Closed Circuit: Panasonic Jaguar Racing in Hong Kong
In an incredible turnaround from last season, Panasonic Jaguar Racing have gone from propping up the field to a front-running team as Mitch Evans looked to be one of the favourites for the weekend and in the process took the team’s maiden podium, while Nelson Piquet Jr ensured both sides of the garage came away with points.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing welcomed season one champion Nelson Piquet Jr to its driver line up for season four, a move which proved itself positive as the Brazilian came home in fourth place in the opening race of the weekend, equalling the best result for the team in his first outing.
There was promise on the other side of the garage as well, with Mitch Evans producing a surprising turn of pace by topping FP2 and heading into qualifying as a dark horse for pole position.
It wasn’t to be for the Kiwi, as a timing error by the team meant that he failed to cross the line in time to start his 200kW lap, leaving Evans at the back of the grid and with an uphill struggle in the race.
Sunday proved to be a more successful day for Evans, as he once again assumed the mantle of pole favourite but was pipped to the post by Mahindra Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist by a mere 0.054s. There was disappointment as his Super Pole lap was deleted for exceeding his maximum power usage, but his efforts were soon rewarded.
A solid race to fourth pace consolidated the new-found pace of the Jaguar team, but Daniel Abt’s disqualification promoted the Kiwi to his and the team’s maiden podium in the series, while Piquet was stuck in a titanic midfield battle and came home 12th.
Team mate comparison: qualifying
- Nelson Piquet Jr
- Mitch Evans
Team mate comparison: race
- Nelson Piquet Jr
- Mitch Evans
“The key takeout is that we have a competitive car which is really positive news. Pre-season testing didn’t really give us enough of an indication, and what we have seen today is that we have a car that has got a solid pace and is also efficient during the race. For Nelson to finish fourth today was fantastic. Now we just need to continue to improve and be regularly competing for points.”
“Well that was a very pleasant surprise! We felt like a podium was on today so I am delighted for Mitch and the whole team. This weekend has exceeded our expectations but we won’t let it go to our heads and we still have many areas to improve upon. Hopefully this is the first of many podiums ahead and we will raise a glass tonight.”
James Barclay, Team Principal
It was a fantastic start to a new season with a new team for Nelson Piquet Jr, who proved himself to still be one of the fastest drivers as he piloted his #3 Jaguar to fourth place.
Tenth on the grid might not have seemed much for the Brazilian, but in shades of his season one title campaign he managed his energy well and crossed the line in fourth place to get his and the team’s 2017/18 season off to a point-scoring start, less than three seconds away from a podium.
P12 on the grid for Sunday’s race set the tone for a race spent in the midfield for Piquet Jr, as ten seconds separated Nico Prost in eighth and Andre Lotterer in P13 following a close battle for the final points paying position.
Amidst the close competition, Piquet Jr crossed the line in the same position he started in and left Hong Kong seventh in the driver’s standings.
Best time in FP1: 1:04.269s (P7)
Best time in FP2: 1:03.562s (P7)
Best time in qualifying: 1:03.993s (P10)
Best time in race: 1:04.989s (lap 21)
Pit stop time and difference to minimum pit stop time: 38.544s (+1.544s)
Best time in FP3: 1:03.193s (P14)
Best time in qualifying: 1:03.310s (P12)
Best time in race: 1:04.088s (lap 41)
Pit stop time and difference to minimum pit stop time: 38.770s (+1.770s)
“Firstly, I’m really happy and thank you to everyone from Panasonic Jaguar Racing for working so hard in the off season. It’s great to be back racing and to be competing in the points in our first race is encouraging. We are trying to keep realistic about our results as it’s a long season ahead but in general we did a great job. The team can take a lot of positives from today including the pace and efficiency of the I-TYPE 2. The race was quite hectic, so I’m very happy to have secured the result I did today, and look forward to getting back on track tomorrow.”
“Mitch’s podium is a great start to the season for the team. The car is definitely on a different level to last year. The whole team have improved a lot. Our hopes are high after this weekend’s results. It was a bit of an unknown coming into the weekend so after these two good results on both days hopefully we have a bit of confidence and can continue to score points throughout the year.”
The apparent ace in the pack, Evans turned heads with his practice pace on Saturday, as he went P2 in FP1 and fastest of all in FP2, entertaining thoughts of challenging for pole position. Anticipation grew for Jaguar’s first Formula E pole, but a timing error meant that the Kiwi was unable to start his 200kW lap in time and subsequently started from the back of the grid.
The 23-year-old made good progress through the field but 12th across the line was all he could manage in a tightly-contested midfield battle, proving the pace of the I-Type II in the face of adversity.
Evans’ pace carried through into the second race day of the weekend as once again it appeared that pole position was achievable, but on this occasion there was no stopping the Mahindra Racing of Felix Rosenqvist, who beat the Kiwi to pole by a slender margin of 0.054s.
Jaguar soon lost their first front row start as Evans’ Super Pole lap was deleted for exceeding the maximum power usage and had to settle for P4 on the grid.
While unable to keep up with Edoardo Mortara and Daniel Abt ahead of him, Evans kept his head down and looked on for a podium place before Rosenqvist came through for third in his own recovery special. The Kiwi crossed the line fourth, but after Abt was disqualified from the race results he and Jaguar started to celebrate their first ever podium finish in Formula E.
The podium elevates Evans to sixth place in the driver’s standings, while Jaguar enjoyed a fine season opener to lie fifth in the team’s standings.
Best time in FP1: 1:03.776s (P2)
Best time in FP2: 1:02.875s (P1)
Best time in qualifying: 1:19.616s (P20)
Best time in race: 1:04.788s (lap 38)
Pit stop time and difference to minimum pit stop time: 40.627s (+3.627s)
Best time in FP3: 1:03.133s (P13)
Best time in qualifying: 1:02.577s (P1, P2 in Super Pole)
Best time in race: 1:04.863s (lap 35)
Pit stop time and difference to minimum pit stop time: 41.950s (+4.950s)
“The day started really well, and it was great to finish top of the second practice session. There were some timing issues in qualifying which lead to starting the race in nineteenth position, and then the restart on the second lap, which meant today’s race was frustrating. The car feels good, and I was setting some good lap times so I’m hopeful for a better result tomorrow.”
“I am proud to secure Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s first podium in Formula E. It is bittersweet as Daniel (Abt) is a good guy and a mate of mine. After a tough year in our first season this is a great reward for the hard work of everyone in the team. Tonight we will celebrate this achievement together and then work hard to repeat it.”