Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver James Calado believes that making improvements in qualifying will result in better race finishes during his debut Formula E season.
Calado, who is currently 14th in the drivers’ standings, achieved the second points finish of his electric racing career last time out in Santiago but has yet to qualify higher than 18th in the 24-car field.
In Chile, his timed run was compromized by him overheating the Jaguar’s tires before getting bunched up behind Daniel Abt and Robin Frijns during his flying lap attempt.
The Englishman, whose teammate Mitch Evans clinched the Santiago pole, has since labeled qualifying as his main area to focus on in a bid to achieve higher race finishes.
“I spend a lot of time at the Jaguar simulator in Grove so I think that has been helping,” Calado told e-racing365.
“In terms of controls and systems on the steering wheel, procedures during the race and reading out energy numbers, I’ve found that fine.
“The pace is there during the race, but I just need to work on qualifying. Mitch has got three years’ advantage on me in that aspect, so I need to learn what changes are the right ones, but it’s all coming.
“The objective is to improve qualifying, from my side and the team’s side. It was a bit of a misunderstanding when they released me in Santiago, so getting all that combined I think we can qualify in the top ten and be in the top five.
“Third, fourth or fifth would be a great result in Mexico. The track [layout] is different to last year which should play to my advantage.”
Calado explained that getting stuck in the tail end of the Formula E starting grid often compromizes a driver’s ability to manage his energy stores during a race.
“I’ve not made it easy for myself starting at the back but qualifying is vital because you use energy overtaking, scrapping and defending,” he admitted.
“The further up you are, the quicker the guys are, and the less energy you use making these overtakes and getting into these scraps. You save more energy.
“I’m using energy trying to overtake people whereas I’d love to be able to use that energy for performance and lap time at the front.
“But I’ve still managed to gain without losing much time to the leaders in Santiago – I lost 15 seconds in two crashes at the hairpins, but I finished 18 seconds behind so it was a really decent showing.”
Podium Goal for Calado in 2019-20
Despite having a clear objective to work on, Calado believes he is adapting well to the demands of Formula E.
The 2017 FIA World Endurance GT champion hadn’t raced an open-wheel car or competed on a street circuit in six years prior to his signing with Jaguar and so needed to adapt quickly to compete with his more experienced Formula E rivals.
“It’s such a fast process of learning,” he said. “I feel comfortable and that the team are on my side and believe in me.
“The car has got superb potential and is probably in the top three in terms of performance, maybe more so in qualifying than the race but we’re there or thereabouts.
“We know DS Techeetah and BMW are extremely strong in the race, so it will take a little bit more to catch them, but we’re up there.
“We could see from Saudi Arabia and Santiago that I can come through the field with good pace so if I can just start further forward and apply that same principle then I’ll be close to podiums, if not on the podium.
“The team are doing a good job in helping me learn. There’s obviously a long way to go still in terms of learning, but I’m enjoying the championship and being in a competitive field of 24 cars with a lot of manufacturers.
“It’s a good environment to be in and I’m looking forward to Mexico City.”