Formula E editor Sam Smith looks at how the need for more track action during Formula E weekends has been filled by the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY and how it will accelerate the electric tech ‘Holy Grail’ message.
There’s no two ways about it. At the Montreal ePrix, on the second race day, I stalked the President of the FIA, Jean Todt.
I assure you there was good reason to do so.
I had been promised ten minutes with the main man, but had to ‘tail him’ to make sure I didn’t miss out on my chance to quiz one of the busiest men in racing. My iPhone voice recorder was turned to rapid response mode.
At one stage I grabbed his slipstream as he went to a temporary TV studio high above the outside of Turn 1.
There, the atmosphere was building as the crowd gathered by the funfair. A mixture of families and young people were waiting for the action to begin.
It was approximately 2 p.m. and Formula E qualifying and Super Pole had long since finished. The lull was palpable and expectation built.
Twenty-or-so minutes later, I met with Todt and asked him about the hours leading up to the second ePrix of the weekend.
“I think there is a space to maybe introduce a different discipline as a support race,” he said. “It is something we are thinking of. We need to use this period between one and three o’clock.”
The elephant in the room was actually the lack of activity beyond it.
Yes, the crowd had plenty to see and do. There were attractions over here, Formula E drivers crashing in to each other on racing games there.
Yet, still the track was devoid of that magic ingredient: competition.
Jaguar brought more than just a team, four cars and a uniform marketing plan to Formula E last season.
‘The Cat’ brought a vision, and a clear one at that.
It embraced electric technology and engineering for the future. Yes there was a bucketful of PR and marketing gloss but the intentions were genuine and well thought through.
It is a strategy which, if any doubters still existed, has been extinguished by the news that up to 20 Jaguar I-PACE sports cars will fill that gaping hole in the Formula E timetable from 2018 onwards.
Everyone should be a winner with the newly announced Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY.
Formula E, the fans, general ‘tech heads’, the events as an overall entity and the bigger picture of expanding the global image of electric cars in reach, performance and aesthetics. Jaguar really seem to understand the more expansive questions on where e-mobility and EV tech is heading.
It’s this final point that’s considered the Holy Grail for electric mobility. The product has to be attractive; it has to be desired.
Ask Alejandro Agag or any of the heads of manufacturers in Formula E, what is at the top of their long-term wish list for a return on their time and investment, it will be to make electric vehicles desirable.
The likelihood is, that this objective is met, and maybe even surpassed in the next two to three decades.
Should the momentum continue and these aims completed, then it will be an efficient sign-off to the hopes and dreams of those that have been involved in Formula E from an early stage.
After all, it took the present century’s technological revolution, mobile phones, the best part of two decades to mature and become a central and largely indispensable part of day-to-day human life.
Now, after accelerated technology, the like of which we have not seen before, a mass of those same tiny devices are capturing new, clean and forward-thinking events such as Formula E.
You can even stalk the FIA President with them, should you wish to do so.