Jaguar frustration grows after messed-up race in Cape Town: "Setback for championship ambitions"
Jaguar TCS Racing once again fell far short of its potential at the Cape Town E-Prix and was unable to bring home anything worthwhile. Especially with Sam Bird, who could not even start the race after an accident in qualifying, the frustration sits deep. But Mitch Evans was again deprived of points by a penalty..
The qualifying could not have run more differently for the two Jaguar drivers: Mitch Evans moved into the duel stage as the runner-up in Group B, where he defeated Sebastien Buemi. He was defeated by Maximilian Günther in the semifinals, which meant 4th place on the grid for the New Zealander.
Sam Bird, on the other hand, crashed in the high-speed section of the track shortly after Edoardo Mortara also hit the wall there. Bird slammed backward into the wall and subsequently hit the side of Mortara's car, which was parked on the side of the track. No flags were waved at the scene of the accident at the time. According to Bird's own statements, he was distracted by race director Scot Elkins, who announced a red-flag stop to the practice session in a radio message to all the drivers.
After qualifying, Jaguar mechanics determined that the carbon fiber monocoque on Bird's car had been too badly damaged in the crash and would need to be replaced. However, this was not possible in the short time available before the start of the race, so Bird missed the race.
Bird laments "really dangerous situation"
"If there has been an accident, drivers should at least be warned, especially in a high-speed corner," Sam Bird laments to colleagues at 'The Race'. "That put me in a really dangerous situation. I feel like my weekend was ruined because of factors outside of my control and beyond my control."
"The team worked super hard," Bird described further. "We were well prepared. We put so much into it and we're always fast. We're in the top three or four every time we're on track. And when that gets taken away from us, it's really tricky."
"The guys are really down - I'm down," he continued. "I just want another good result, but it's been a long time. I feel like I deserve it. I'm driving well, but I don't have anything countable to show for it."
It is the third race Bird has failed to compete in, following the "double-header" in Seoul last summer. Previously, he had competed in all 98 E-Prix in Formula E history. In addition, because Bird was unable to drive, the accident has consequences for the race in Sao Paulo: the drive-through penalty he received in Hyderabad for causing the collision with Mitch Evans will apply to the next race in which the driver competes. Bird will therefore be moved back five positions in Brazil.
Evans: "Another disappointing setback"
Mitch Evans had a good start and managed to defend fourth place. He managed to build up an energy cushion for the rest of the race in the early stages. But then the bad news for the New Zealander: he received a drive-through penalty for drawing more than the maximum permitted 300 kW of power from the battery at the start of the race. Although the cause of such a violation can be found in the technology or the software, the driver is still penalized, although he can do nothing about it.
Evans dropped to last place as a result. However, since there were no more safety car phases until the end of the race, he drove behind the field with a clear gap. In the end, he benefited from the retirements of Günther and Sacha Fenestraz, so that he finished in eleventh position. Accordingly, he did not receive points again.
"Today was another disappointing setback for my championship ambitions," described Mitch Evans. "We know we have an incredibly fast car. But I wasn't able to score the points I think the team deserved. We will try again in Sao Paulo."
"We are still analyzing the data to see how the overpower infringement occurred with Mitch," described team boss James Barclay. "Depending on that, we will decide how to proceed. It's very frustrating because again we were very strong. Mitch kept fourth place safe, and we saved energy for later in the race. But it is what it is. We need to understand where the problem was and fix it."
Team boss Barclay: "Sam is devastated"
"Sam is devastated," Barclay said of his second driver. "He drove well, performed really well, and the car was fast. It was an avoidable accident, to be honest. The red flag should have come right out. We all, the whole championship, have to learn from situations like that. It's not a reproach, but we have to improve on that."
"We have a completely destroyed car, and Sam didn't make it back to the race," the South African explained. "As a team, we've already shown that we can get the cars ready for the race even in difficult conditions. But with this much damage, it was just impossible today. It's a really tough day for us. But we showed that the car is super fast. Luck will be on our side again, we just have to keep at it."
Instead of fighting for the championship, Jaguar TCS Racing is only sixth in the team standings with 42 points. Porsche has already collected three times as many points. The drivers are also far behind their potential in the overall standings: Sam Bird is eighth, Mitch Evans is 12th.
In just over three and a half weeks, the drivers will have the opportunity to change that: Formula E will race in Brazil for the first time on March 25, hosting the Sao Paulo E-Prix.