Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

2022 was great, but this year will be a complete reset: Jaguar Land Rover Motorsport's James Barclay

New technologies and new regulations will make 2023 a challenging year, says Barclay, the company's managing director and team principal, Jaguar Racing Formula E Team

Raunak Ajinkya
Published: Apr 12, 2023 02:52:23 PM IST
Updated: Apr 12, 2023 03:05:25 PM IST

2022 was great, but this year will be a complete reset: Jaguar Land Rover Motorsport's James BarclayJames Barclay, Managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Motorsports
Q. You had a very successful Formula E Season 8. What’s in store for Season 9? 
A: The last two years have been really positive for us. We have made really good progress. We took the driver’s championship down to the wire last year (2022), so a lot of positives there. Coming to the new year, though, the new regulations are very different. When you have a brand new set of regulations—you’ve seen in Formula 1, too, for 2022, we’re going through even more changes than that. We have a car that has four-wheel regeneration now, we have 600kW regeneration, we have fast charging coming later on. There’s so much technical change that it’s a complete reset of the competitive order. What this basically means is that we have to approach this year like a new year. We have no carry-over benefit from previous seasons. We have to start from scratch and re-establish our position. That’s the challenge we face ahead as a team.  

Q. Delving a little deeper into the changes for this year, how much of a change is it to change the battery technology from McLaren to Williams? 
A: It is a big change. It’s quite a change to go from a battery that’s 54kWh to a battery that’s basically 39kWH. Yes, there’s a new battery, so yes there’s integration. And one of the big challenges is also integrating new hardware to our powertrain. That’s one of the technical challenges for Gen-3.  
Q. How has it been managing Mitch (Evans) and Sam (Bird)? You read a lot about team principals struggling to keep their drivers in line. Is there competition brewing between them? Does it ever get out of hand? 
It is a really positive relationship. I’m really fortunate. I think that comes down to the culture of the team. In Mitch and Sam, we have two very good racing drivers, both really good, decent human beings as well. They realise that the result of the team is fundamentally why we are here. To get the best results for Jaguar that we can. Of course, we want them to have the success of winning the driver’s championship, but first and foremost, they are Jaguar TCS Racing, and it’s their job to ensure we have the best finish in the championship as possible. But they have a great relationship, naturally, since they’ve known each other a long time. They’ve grown up racing together. At the same time, it’s natural for racing drivers to have a tendency to be a little selfish, but they balance that desire for a result for themselves with a result for the team. 

Also read: Formula E World Championship: A new way of watching motorsports live

Q. What additional responsibilities do you have now as the managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Motorsports, aside from being the team principal of Jaguar TCS Racing? 
We established the motorsport function last year, and the whole point of that is that we’ve been back in the sport now since 2016. We’ve created a structure that allows us, along with our technical partners, to run a successful motorsport programme. So, in that sense, we have a bit of experience running this programme now, so should we ever need to coordinate anything else, we could. Our long-term focus is on Formula E, but it does mean that, should we ever need to, our team is in the business that can activate and can make other racing programmes happen.

2022 was great, but this year will be a complete reset: Jaguar Land Rover Motorsport's James BarclayJaguar TCS Racing cars
Q. What is Jaguar’s future looking like in terms of a pure electric luxury manufacturer from 2025 onwards? 
It is a really exciting future. There’s more to come on that in the future, but the simple fact that Jaguar is being reimagined as a modern luxury all-electric car company is a really exciting time for the company. The race team is the heart of that. We’re helping, as we race around the world in the world championship, to communicate the benefit of electric vehicles and our future as an electric car company. But then we also use it as this real-world test bed for the electric vehicle technology. The thing we’re announcing, our partnership with Wolfspeed? This is technology we started in the race team. We evolved that technology in 2017 with the same partner, and now we’ve announced them as a long-term supplier to Jaguar Land Rover. But it started in the race team. So, the future’s exciting, the race team is a core part of that, both at the communication level and also at the technology test bed level. We are really proud of the work that we do to help shape that future.