“When we entered in 2016, we hadn’t been involved in motorsport for a very long time: even in the F1 days, the team was really a separate thing,” Barclay continues. “Once we had sign-off from the board, we had to create a whole new structure and build the whole thing from scratch. We had to take massive steps to catch the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche: they’ve always had some form of racing programme. So, being honest, the timeline is what we were expecting.
“The first year was just about learning how to race again. Year two was starting to compete, year three fighting for points, year four going for podiums and then year five going for wins. We’ve always been super-clear about not overpromising and underdelivering in the world championship with the best line-up of manufacturers.”
Evans has been part of Jaguar’s team since day one, and the 27-year-old Kiwi took its first win in 2019. “The contrast between the first season and now is huge,” he says. “We’re a completely different team and operate at a much higher level. It has been really special for me: it’s rare for a driver to be able to experience that growth. The team has always been realistic, and the timeline has played out exactly as was set out to me.”
Bird, who is second on Formula E’s all-time winners’ list, joined this year from Envision Virgin Racing. He says the lure of racing for a British manufacturer “was a big part of the move for me” and admits he came close to signing three years ago. Although that didn’t work out, he says: “Over the past three years, they’ve got better and better. In one race last season, I watched Mitch fly past me on the straight as if I was standing still, and that was a switch in my head: it was time to make the move. And I’m so pleased I have.”
The slow growth of the team has in part been because Jaguar wanted to learn as much as win. “Formula E is genuinely a real-world proving ground for us,” says Barclay. “The point of doing it was firstly to tell the world we had an electric car and EV expertise, and a medium- to long-term view that we would learn about electric technology.