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The “lottery” that Jaguar faces in its bid for a maiden Formula E title

Two wins from the opening eight races have given Jaguar a small lead in the 2024 Formula E standings, while drivers Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy remain in title contention themselves. But the divisive style of racing seen at points in the series this season means any further success can’t be taken for granted

Mitch Evans, Jaguar TCS Racing, 1st position, James Barclay, Team Director, Jaguar TCS Racing, Nick Cassidy, Jaguar TCS Racing, 2nd position, and the Jaguar TCS Racing team celebrate

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

A crushing 1-2 after a strategic masterclass in the last race, a 44-point lead in the teams’ standings and one of, if not the most, competitive packages in the Formula E Championship at the halfway point of the 2024 season.

Heading into the second half of the campaign, which gets underway this weekend with the Berlin E-Prix double-header, Jaguar and its drivers Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy are the in-form team. That the British manufacturer occupies such a position might not come as a surprise to many given where it finished last term – second in the standings behind only customer outfit Envision – and it entered this season as one of the favourites for both titles.

Cassidy, having moved from Envision, hit the ground running with his new team and secured a hat-trick of podiums in the first three races which included a win in the second Diriyah contest. On the other side of the garage, Evans had shown pace but minor car issues kept him off the podium until the fourth race in Sao Paulo, where overheating issues meant he fell short of victory by just three corners as he finished behind former team-mate Sam Bird.

He eventually ‘took the monkey off his back’ with an impressive display last time out in Monaco, as Evans headed home fellow Kiwi Cassidy after a superb team display that was a statement of intent.

Evans’s sluggish start means he sits 25 points, or a full race win, behind championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, with Cassidy just seven points behind the Porsche driver having non-scored in Sao Paulo and the opening Misano race.

In both races Cassidy was left out of the points after suffering front wing damage, the former example due to contact back in the pack which sent him into the barrier in Brazil as the offending bodywork became lodged under his car.

The latter damage was caused after a collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in Italy, for which the DS Penske driver was handed a five-second penalty, in a race which Jaguar team principal James Barclay described as a “lottery”.

Mitch Evans on track at the Misano E-Prix

Mitch Evans on track at the Misano E-Prix

Photo by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images

“There are certain circuits which create more of a lottery,” Barclay told Autosport. “You can have the fastest car, it doesn’t necessarily help you towards the outcome, it’s a combination of everything now and that kind of peloton-style racing is a bit more of a lottery.

“For sure when you look at adding circuits like that into the mix it changes [things], they’re not like the true DNA Formula E tracks which most of us planned for. There’s been a real shift in circuit strategy and that has introduced a few more variants.”

Although every motorsport season is full of ifs, buts and maybes, there’s a feeling that Jaguar’s points advantage could be even greater if a more traditional style of racing was taking place across the season more akin to previous campaigns when using the Gen2 machine.

"There are certain circuits which create more of a lottery." James Barclay

But with drivers forced into not leading races due to the Gen3 car creating much more of a slipstream to those behind, dropping back into the pack has become a necessary evil in the hopes of prevailing. The problem has been exasperated by the addition of more and more permanent race tracks and a move away from street circuits that previously have been at the very core of the championship.

Evans had taken pole for the opening race in Misano, only to immediately concede the lead due to the excessive benefit of sitting in the slipstream to save energy and finished fifth.

While Cassidy was able to salvage a podium in the sequel such races have added a new element into a team’s strategy, while the increased chance of incidents has meant a greater degree of luck is needed.

“If I look at somewhere like Misano, which is a real extreme, pole position on Saturday and podium on Sunday shows we’re in that performance window but now the key thing is you have to execute everything else,” adds Barclay.

Evans with the Julius Baer pole position award at Misano

Evans with the Julius Baer pole position award at Misano

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

“The race strategy, avoiding contact, all come into play and it feels a bit more like a lottery for us and of course that’s frustrating.

"As a team, you know you have done the hard work developing the best car possible that gives you an advantage. The reality is these tracks do blur that line a bit more, but we can’t change it and we just have to go and do the best job that we can.”

A new circuit layout has been created at the Tempelhof Airport venue which will be raced this weekend in a bid to make use of the greater capabilities of the Gen3 car over its predecessors. Even so, a peloton style of racing is still expected where leading from the front throughout is almost certainly going to be out of the question.

Following that there is a double-header at the Shanghai International Circuit where, although on a shorter configuration to the full grand prix layout, the wide expanses more suited to Formula 1 machinery will again mean a repeat of the style of racing seen in Misano.

The penultimate round of the season will be a return to Portland, where after last year’s single event a double-header will be held at the permanent track as cars ran five wide at times in a chaotic contest 12 months ago.

In theory, it means the next six races could be something of a free-for-all where outright pace might count for very little as staying out of trouble takes priority. Both Cassidy and Evans have expressed concerns in recent months about the second half of the season, given the unpredictable races that are likely to occur on weekends which will offer a double haul of points and have a significant impact on the outcome of the championships.

With seven different drivers from six teams winning across the opening eight races already, Formula E has proven to be one of the most unpredictable and dramatic forms of racing which, in all likelihood, means a championship battle that will run until the final round in London.

Evans leading team-mate Cassidy at Monaco

Evans leading team-mate Cassidy at Monaco

Photo by: Dom Romney / Motorsport Images

While that’s fantastic for the championship and fans, for Jaguar, the style of racing at more permanent race circuits has created a frustrating situation. Having pumped millions of pounds into developing possibly the fastest package on the grid, that could count for very little when visiting Germany, China and the USA over the next month.

Barclay, though, is focused on the present and sealing a maiden title that the Big Cat has been seeking since entering Formula E in 2016, but he admits that long-term it’s a situation that needs addressing for the benefit of the championship.

PLUS: The strategic masterclass that secured Jaguar a Monaco Formula E 1-2

“I think longer term the focus should be that we have a really clear circuit strategy and car strategy,” he says. “The two go hand-in-hand and what we want to make sure is we have the best blend of both, to produce the best outcome for the championship.

“If the likes of Misano racing is what’s going to hugely grow this championship, then should we close our eyes to that? No. If it isn’t and it isn’t growing the championship and it isn’t producing authentic sport, then should we be going to those kinds of circuits? No is the answer.

“I’m really pragmatic, things need to be done in the right way. We are where we are this season, we take what we can learn from this year and we ensure that we learn from that and shape the future accordingly.”

Barclay celebrating the team's Monaco win

Barclay celebrating the team's Monaco win

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

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