Williams to run team in Formula E

Jaguar has announced its return to global motorsport with an entry for the third season of the FIA Formula E Championship, with Williams Advanced Engineering confirmed as technical partner. The racing will commence in the autumn of 2016. The team will be led by Craig Wilson, the managing director of Williams Advanced Engineering, who will take on the role of Race Director for the team.
Williams Advanced Engineering is a long term engineering partner of Jaguar, having worked together on projects such as the C-X75 hybrid supercar, and will be responsible for the operational running of the Jaguar Formula E race team. Williams Advanced Engineering will also be working in close collaboration with Jaguar on research and development.
Best known for its successes in Formula 1 over the past four decades, Williams also has a long standing history of supporting organisations in a range of motorsport series such as endurance racing, rallying and touring cars. Williams has extensive Formula E experience as the sole supplier of the batteries that power the cars in the Championship. This has included on event technical support to each team – a role that will now transfer to Spark Racing Technologies for season 3 onwards.
FIA Formula E offers a unique opportunity for Jaguar Land Rover to develop its own future EV powertrain including motor and battery technology on the track, which will be seen in the brand’s future range of passenger vehicles. The team entry has been granted by Formula E and approved by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
“Jaguar is proud to announce its return to racing,” says Nick Rogers, the Group Engineering Director for Jaguar Land Rover. “We’re at the forefront of pioneering technology. Over the next five years we will see more changes in the automotive world than in the last three decades. The future is more about being connected, electrification and lightweight architectures. Formula E enables us to engineer and test advanced technologies under extreme conditions. Formula E will provide genuine live testing for future electric vehicle powertrain technology, which will appear in our new range of vehicles. We are working with a number of partners on the future of electrification including Warwick University, battery suppliers and of course our long-term partners Williams. We will have our engineers embedded with Williams from the start and our innovations will directly affect future Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.”
Jaguar says that Formula E was the obvious choice given its plans to develop electric cars in the future.
“We looked in detail at alternative ways of returning to motorsport,” said James Barclay, Jaguar Team Director. “This was such an important decision for Jaguar and we wanted to get it right. Formula E was the obvious choice and we believe that the benefits are enormous. The FIA and the promoter have exciting plans for the future of the championship and we are proud to be one of the first vehicle manufacturers to commit to the series with our own team.”

39 thoughts on “Williams to run team in Formula E

  1. Good for Williams and Land Rover, shame they’re taking over Jarno Trulli’s entry spot in the championship because his team failed to get to grips with the new powertrain.

  2. Are Formula E cars not all homologous, chassis and drivetrain?

    It’s still great publicity but I wasn’t aware they could develop their own parts?

    1. They were in the first season 2014-2015. In the second season (2015-2016) the drivetrain is free. In the third season the battery development will be free and who knows, beyond that, we may one day need up with free chassis design. However, the point of Formula E is to develop engines and so the chassis development would be disruptive. racing car aerodynamics are worthless outside motor racing, but in F1, for example,they cannot break the habit… because of vested interests.

  3. I’m sure there are some people who get horribly excited by Formula E but I am certainly not one of them. Setting aside the fact that the cars all sound like scalextrics and can’t finish a race distance without changing to a second car, the actual tracks are awful, narrow, high barriered street circuits with no high speed corners, no elevation and worst of all very limited viewing for anyone actually looking to spectate.

    On TV the spectacle is just as bad. It may not be the “correct” thing to say but I’ve found the whole thing to be completely underwhelming – a view I would suggest is reinforced by the miserable viewing figures Formula E is getting on ITV4

    1. “I’m sure there are some people who get horribly excited by Formula E but I am certainly not one of them.” I find Formula E to be intellectually interesting, but a bit of a snooze on TV.

      The teams and drivers who get involved aren’t daft. The cars will never make much noise and it was a mistake to provide so much aerodynamic downforce on low power cars. Formula E needs squealing tyres in a last gasp manoeuvre, which the first year’s circuits failed to deliver. Last gasps were a smidge too desperate and the corners were too narrow in the races i watched.

      Too much aerodynamic downforce, too wide tyres, too wide cars; Formula E and F1 have much in common.

      If the teams can find sponsors for another year — always a question in motor sport — Formula E deserves time to become a spectacle.

      1. “A bit of a snooze”?
        Have you watched the races? Last season, the final double header had the championship on a knife’s edge with bumps, shunts, overtakes and excitement from one corner to the next.
        Formula E is a T20 big bash to F1’s test cricket, and that’s fine. It’s full of hungry drivers and teams that are there to compete every race, not merely protect their entry.
        Honestly, as a long time F1 fan, I’ve found FE a breath of fresh air, action every lap, strategy on battery usage is comparable to the old fuelling strategies and every driver looking to get a win.
        The downsides are the noise, the changeover, the overall speed and the fan boost.
        The noise isn’t going to change, but once the batteries and PUs are developed, it’ll be a lot less of an issue if the cars are up to speed. By that time the changeover should be gone too.
        Fan boost is a bit crap, but the advantage of being a new series is trying these things. Hopefully they’ll find another way to promote fan interaction though.
        All up, Formula E has had the most successful 1st season of an international racing series that I can think of. It’s not without problems, but it’s attracting new crowds, sponsors and manufacturers, while still providing relevant technological development, something F1 could look at doing too.

    2. Thing is John, Williams also run a team in Formula 1…..And we all know that in today’s real world how that effort pans out. So I can’t get too excited over this.

  4. I managed to watch part of the Battersea Park race, but found it uninspiring. Why on earth they did not go for a battery change instead of a whole new car, I cannot imagine. The technology already existed for a floor mounted battery to be automatically swapped on a ramp.
    Next season is to include a driverless autonomous car race, which should be amusing. (or maybe it was to be radio controlled like model car racing)
    (Used to watch the model car racing at Crystal Palace Park on Sunday mornings and tried to put myself in the mind of the owner/racers with left/right steering reversing twice a lap, but then it dawned, its not left and right, it is in (towards the centre) and out which is always the same.)

    Until they get rid of the rule that you are disqulified if your battery meter reaches an indicated zero I shall not bother to watch FE. In the only race I saw part of the clear winner and the second were chucked out an the third place man declared winner. Surely if someone runs ot of power that is their lookout, why have a nanny rule? (I blame Tony Blair)

      1. It is or was actually on tv on ITV4 over here last year but I think next year its only delayed highlights on itv and live online in some countries BUT highlights also to go on Utube a week after race.
        To me that like saying do you want to watch last week’s race. The autonomous race test will be at Donnington in the summer, but likely not on tv. Details here are from the F1 Broadcasting blog. The first FE race was no on UK tv at all apparently.

        1. It’s still on ITV4 in the UK. ITV1 highlights on a Sunday (which bizarrely they won’t stop plugging with an ad bar through the race)

          It needs to build it’s profile a bit and maybe stray onto a few circuits. I was hoping that the Battersea Park race would be shut down and moved to Donnington (Formula E’s HQ) or even Brands Hatch. Battersea was a lousy circuit – too narrow for a proper standing start with trees propped up by the catch fencing a lowing no spectator viewing. The fanzone in the park with screens and the podium was good – but only went to show off the poor attendance with overhead shots!

          1. I think it was Battersea simply because all the races are in major cities. Donnington is much nearer to me and they could re-instate the loop, but I love Brands though it has changed a lot. (all the markers that I learned have gone!)

  5. I think the development advances will be huge. This year they allowed the powertrain development and look what happened, we have each team running different setup with different number of gears. Next year with batteries will be the same especiallly if the big funding from manufacturers is comming in and it is with Audi, renault, citroen and now jaguar.

    Happpy to see Williams jumping in.
    Joe, would it make sense for Williams to have their junior drivers maturing in the team?

    1. According to Pinky: “we have each team running different setup with different number of gears” whatever that means.

      1. FE allows teams to set gearbox options. Some teams run without gears, some have 2,3 or 4. With the instant torque of an electric engine, gears are less important, and the power loss from shifting is taken into account from the acceleration advantage of having a better gear ratio.

  6. Williams are playing a smart long term game. Let’s have a foot in both camps and see what happens.

    The rules are interesting, and a few more years down the road, we will hopefully see a more mixed up grid, car design wise and an increase in speeds which I am sure will happen very soon.

    The general car industry is spending mega money on these sorts of half electric half petrol cars with tons of fancy bits on them to increase your range on a single charge and how to re-charge the cars, while driving them. I am sure there will be a much quicker crossover of Tec from this series than currently in F1.

    I wonder if Williams might use this as a test bed for any of their young drivers. As for Jaguar, it does get them some – limited amount so far – Global exposure, but then you are up against some of your car rivals and beating them on a track is more satisfying then getting brand awareness off the film screen – James Bond.

  7. to each their own, but formulaE is like watching a computer screensaver. the cars are abysmally slow, are sprung soooo stiff that it looks silly, and sound like an entry level RC car. hopefully this evolves for the better and perhaps ill get interested.

  8. I see some fellow commenters would describe Formula E as “a bit of a snooze” and “uninspiring”.

    While they are entitled to their opinions, of course, I wonder if they may have been watching a different series than the one I’ve been enjoying?

    Or, perhaps, they struggle the see past the foibles and differences – of which FE has no more than other motorsport series. Do they just see fanboost, car changes and limited top speed and look no further? I’d perhaps change these things if I could, but in a way they also make FE stand out and who knows it may even be a poor series if they were removed.

    I wonder what someone viewing F1 for the first time ever, without any knowledge or nostalgia for its history, would see. Would they look beyond the almost baroque maze of rules (case in point, next year’s tire allocations)? What would they think of the strange motorway-passes aided by an uninspiring gizmo that is, at best, artificial and, at worst, surely cheating? I wonder how entertaining they would find the constant talk about an aging billionaire and an inept governing body, and the off-track soap opera which plays out insanely slowly, frustratingly and in a quite boring fashion; but on many weekends it does seem to be all there is for us to talk about.

    Chances are, perhaps, they’d land in front of one of the ~75% of races over the past two years which are more or less processions after the first race. They’d certainly wonder why every person at every single race is hyping up this rivalry between the two drivers in silver like it was a heavyweight championship boxing match – when inevitably they spend 95% of races driving 10 seconds apart or more.

    But back to FE, I really do think some people have been watching a different series. Or perhaps the highlights package is extremely poor. Because at least 90% of the series so far has supplied more action and sporting drama in a single race than we typically see in half an F1 season. It’s just different – I enjoy it in almost the same way I enjoy Indycar; it’s a break from the ultra-serious, clinical world of F1 – it’s got an air of “fun” about it that F1 lost years ago.

    Can’t wait for another cool day out in Battersea Park next summer. For a fraction of the price of any general admission Grand Prix ticket you can’t argue with the value. It’s not quite the prestige of a GP, but it’s dead easy to get to on public transport, you’ll get a full day of action and there’s a lot of nice touches by the organisers – the free radio earpieces for commentary should literally be a legal obligation at every Grand Prix. Even my 9 year old enjoyed the day and he HATES F1.

  9. Some of the comments regarding Formula E that have been written here are directly from the handbook of comments that Bernie uses. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but to disregard FE is ridiculous. Electric bikes at the Isle of Man TT couldn’t do a full lap a few years ago but can now finish with an average speed of nearly 120mph. This rate of development is huge and the top riders are involved. Ignore it and disparage it as much as you want to but I think it will develop well and as teams are allowed to do more development the tie in with road cars without the politics if F1 will payback the teams investments. the organisers got it right by having a control chassis and drivetrain intitially and staged development thereafter.

    1. I do not doubt this, but how long before the electric car industry has batteries and prices to match petrol engines?

  10. An interesting exercise in semantics, and, on a different blog, a possible source of much discussion, but as someone who’s spent a lifetime working and playing with electric motors, I wouldn’t dream of calling one an electric ENGINE. The term is actually painful to me.

  11. I agree with the general consensus here, Formula e has come a long way in a couple of years. City races, attracting global manufactures it new, hi-tech and relevant. Having watched a few races in since inception, the only thing Formula e is missing a splash of glamour. For myself as a long time motorsport enthusiast, it hasn’t quite got there yet (I think only the BTCC has it the last couple of years). Time will tell, but these are early days for Formula e, I think it can only improve. As F1 spirals in the opposite direction with the off track politicking being more entertaining than races.

  12. I like the concept of Formula E and there have been the odd moments of excitement but its weakness is the circuits. Far too square far too bumpy and extremely narrow (especially Battersea)
    I know they are aiming to get the races into City Centres to promote clean racing and low emissions but ……
    There are so many great circuits close to major urban areas which could be used.
    Brands Hatch springs immediately to mind.

    Imola isn’t far from Bologna

    Indianapolis Motor Speedway is within the city limits.

    Zandvoort is close to Amsterdam

    I’m sure there are many many more.

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