Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s new Formula E driver James Calado says the points he salvaged from last Saturday’s Diriyah E-Prix saved him from could have been a disastrous debut.
Calado was a surprise signing for Jaguar when he was chosen ahead of Alex Lynn who had impressed on several occasions after replacing Nelson Piquet Jr. midway through last season.
A difficult start to Calado’s rookie Formula E campaign began on Friday when he clipped the wall after being forced wide by Daniel Abt’s Audi.
Calado then crashed in the qualifying session and finished his first race a lowly 16th.
A further error in Saturday morning’s Free Practice session put Jaguar in a race against time to get the car prepared for the qualifying session and Calado was left to claim 21st on the on the grid with a hastily repaired car.
A strong opening few laps in the race preceeded further progress to an 11th place finish at the checkered flag, which was upgraded to a seventh place classification after several penalties were applied to other drivers.
“The championship’s so difficult and I made two critical mistakes. I just overdrove the car and it cost me, especially [on Saturday] because the car was really damaged for qualifying,” Calado told e-racing365.
“So although it was repaired the steering wheel was to the left, the brakes didn’t work and that is why I qualified so far back.
“I got a great start, overtook a few people, the pace was pretty good and everything was really well managed. I was picking people off, ok a few of them made mistakes, but my pace was good and I scored some points.”
Calado revealed that he feared his first Formula E weekend would continue to a negative conclusion but he immediately made progress in the early laps before capitalizing on others’ misfortune in the second phase of it.
“At the end of what could have been the worst weekend of my life, it ended up not so bad,” he said.
“I think deep down I knew this was one of the hardest tracks to come to as a rookie. You know Brendon [Hartley], myself, and Nico [Mueller] all crashed too, but it’s really a learning experience.
“I’ve learnt so much at testing, all the sim work that I’ve done, but in just these two races that we’ve done I’ve learnt twice as much.”
The British racer believes that the pace he achieved in the Saturday race can be built upon for further improvements as the season progresses.
“I’m still a long way from being optimal, but you know that shows some real potential, the car was really good, the guys did a very good job in getting the car back together, because honestly it was touch and go at one stage so I feel happy,” he concluded.