Insight: Jaguar Formula E team gets an F1 engineering upgrade
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Oct 2017   |  3:13 pm GMT  |  105 comments

The development of the FIA Formula E continues with greater interest in the series as season five approaches when Mercedes and Porsche will join the series and the batteries will last an entire race.

The latest recruit from Formula 1 is Phil Charles, who headed race operations for Toro Rosso until 2016 after a long career at Renault.

He has taken a role as Technical Manager of Jaguar’s Formula E team.

Charles worked closely with technical director James Key and was responsible for the track engineering operations through the Verstappen/Sainz years among others. He left the team in summer 2016 due to the pressures of working in Italy with a young family in the UK.

As Formula E grows in interest on people’s radars in F1, we caught up with him to find out what attracts a top F1 engineer to the electric racing series.

Why Formula E?

PC: “I have been watching Formula E since it started. I was interested in the technology and liked the one day race format. I enjoyed watching several ex-F1 drivers I knew race against some of the young F1 hopefuls that I had seen not quite make it.

“I have had some F1 offers but nothing that really jumped out. Then when a couple of manufacturers announced an interest in FE I really pricked up my ears.

” I was pleased to get an offer from Jaguar as it is a brand I have always liked and one of the first of the list of premium brands to make the move to FE.

“I am really enjoying it. F1 could learn a huge amount from it. Its got a lot of things right.”

So what is your role and how does it compare to F1?

PC:” My job is Technical Manager of the Formula E team – kind of like a chief race engineer and team manager rolled into one. It’s a good opportunity to do clever engineering and organise the running of the team – all the things I enjoy.”

Formula E Alejandro Agag

Apart from the growing interest from manufacturers and sponsors, what do you think Formula E has going for it as a race series?

PC: “Having been here a few weeks I really see the value in the rules. They actually cleverly cut costs without taking away the excitement of racing and still give the engineers scope to be clever and push technology forward.

“Some examples: Having fixed aero surfaces saves a huge amount of money compared to F1 and takes away a big potential performance differentiator between cars.

“There is very little telemetry when the car is running and one day race format means that there is little advantage in having a big operations room looking at the data live in sessions. Plus there is no time to simulate all night, like F1 teams do where they bring the reserve drivers in for ‘driver in the loop’ simulator sessions. [JA note: This is what Sebastian Vettel credited Charles Leclerc for doing on Friday night of the Singapore GP weekend, which found the set up for him to take pole position.]

“There is much more focus on mechanical set-up optimisation and in particular brake stability to make the driver confident to push on street circuits.”

What do you think of the way engineers engage with drivers in Formula E?
“The format gives the drivers and the engineers the opportunity to make a difference in the race: the drivers have a high workload so if they are the sort of driver that has some brain capacity still available when driving they will do well.

“Also the race engineers, control engineers and coders can really help the driver manage their energy well with careful preparation and good software.

“It’s a small team (only 20 operational compared to 60 in F1) so you have to work closely and react quickly as a group through the fast-moving race-day.”

What do you think of the development of Formula E? Has the news that Porsche and Mercedes are set to join in late 2018 made you pay more attention? Leave your comments in the section below

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I always found it interesting that both Phil Charles (Piquet engineer) and Dave Geenwood (aka The Pig, Alonso engineer) both left Renault F1 suddenly at the end of 2009 after the crashgate scandal was exposed…..


upgrade is always good


Jenson Button was recently quoted as saying that indycar scares him and that formula e does not excite him.

Sounds like a pretty good endorsment for Indycar.


“They (Liberty) haven’t done anything yet as far as I can see. I got things done quietly. All they do is talk,” Ecclestone said. “They said they wanted six races in America, for example. Chase had preconceived ideas of what needed to be done. But now he’s on board, it isn’t quite as easy as he thought. So I feel sorry for him”

How does that read to you? A little like someone glad they sold that “used car”?


Not really. Sounds like someone doing his best to imprint on people the idea that he was doing a better job than they realised.


Sounds to me like a bitter old man, famous for manipulating the media and being economical with the truth.


My big gripe with FE is that the cars are so slow. Even on the Micky Mouse tracks they use an FE car would be left for dead by an F3 car and probably by an FRenault. If they were ever on run on a permanent track it would be embarrassing.


How come FE cars have such high noses? I thought the FIA banned them from F1 because they were considered dangerous? Shouldn’t FE have the same?


Its hard to know what can be done with formula E as electric motors are pretty much 100% efficent and they all have the same batteries and cars.
If one team gets a sudden breakthrough with batteries every other team will plug them in as well.
Cars run close together in a snake for the whole race which is curiously a bit boring after a while.
People always seem to adopt the future early like they have an advantage doing it. Bit like canals
for moving goods around on water. A silly idea a few decades later.
When the whole world is running around in electric and hybrid cars the novelty will be going to watch
petrol engine racing with the fuel unlikely to ever run out for many centuries if ever as it will just
be left in the ground one day.


FE is one thing and F1 is another and i simply cannot see any association between the two given the basic parameters guiding the series. Like others have said re viewing, i’ve also tried and never lasted longer than 10 mins at most! Some of the F1 races this year have been boring but seen alongside FE, they are brilliant. IMO there can be no substitute or cross over and why should there be? In my lifetime i admit to having had an unending fascination with ICE engines, with all their derivatives. Not only are they simply examples of the finest engineering design and build but they are also a work of art, in a manner of speaking. As an analogy it’s like looking at a working skeleton ‘tourbillon’ with mulitple complications and a digital watch with a battery and a chip display. Of course one has to embrace technology…it’s impossible not to, but i just hope that we are not going to get stiffed by Liberty and the FIA moving ever closer to this form of motorsport.


Battery that can last the whole race distance is a big step forward for more ‘exciting’ race.

Next one, faster than f1 car?


I was wrong to reckon that the F E would die out in a 2-3 season stretch.
It could really be raced on a temporary track inside a mega city, like london, sydney or Beijing. Sounds like it doesnt require too much preparation. I certainly dont see F1 cars racing inside a mega city (apart frm singapore).


I tried watching FE, but it was just some whining, skittery, and really slow cars. I couldn’t place it, but it’s come to me now – it reminds me of arrive and drive karts at your local indoor centre, where you get dodgy ones that won’t turn left, etc.

Ok they’re changing it to one car/battery in a couple of seasons, but what a horrendous advert for electric cars, having to swop cars as the battery won’t last. I almost bought an electric I3 a few years back, but range was not quite enough. It’s getting better on road cars, and is not far away from being a credible alternative to fossil fuels, just a pity our electricity distribution grid and capacity can’t cope.


I don’t remember Fe cars being that slow. They only batteries after all. If those are standardised I don’t see the point. Making batteries better should be their goal. F1 may actually be doing a better job of this as they do tend to throw more money at problems.

Still a $80 spark plug can be a problem. Solution is to test and replace that and coil packs before every run.

Tornillo Amarillo

What do you think of the development of Formula E? Has the news that Porsche and Mercedes are set to join in late 2018 made you pay more attention?

Nop. Here is what I think, Formula 1 is boring some times and I don’t know what’s the point to do the same but with batteries instead of a PU and with F1 retirees drivers. What ‘s the innovation?
Look, Massa was like a mediocre in F1 and when nobody wants him, so he would like to go to FE. It’s like to buy a house in Florida or Arizona for an active old age whith no noise to bother.

But… if you build a new circuit for a crazy speed of 500 km/h in a science-fiction-like place with oustanding innovations in the paddock and for the fans… I will take a look. But that is not in any plan. So forget it.

Build a Blade runner-like category and I am in.


Yeah those damn flying cars were promised in the 50s. I’m still waiting.



That actually sounds like quite a good viewpoint.

From mine, when I have watched races, I feel that the high walls at the sides of the circuit, negates all the hype about all the cities or parks that FE has been able to go to, as the view is the same, wherever they are.

There was a Formala E race in Battersea Park, in London. I couldn’t tell they were in a park. It was the same sterile road and wall setup as the other races, like a curvy Death Star trench. With less turbolasers.

Contrast that to Formula One in Baku, where the circuit winds through the “Old City”, where actual local architecture forms the backdrop of the television viewing experience.

Maybe this is a problem with the camera coverage, rather than an inherent fault with the race series, but that is, along with the whiny Automan car sound, why I cannot yet get into Formula E.


I would be all for this e-series … but when fans can vote on who gets a boost, that’s NOT PROPER RACING.


Correct. It’s a race, not a smegging popularity contest.
I was willing to give it a chance until the fan boost vote stupidity was added. I’m still willing to watch it if they ever get rid of that feature, but until then, I refuse to watch.


Totally agree. It’s ridiculous. Hopefully as the series becomes more serious it will be dropped…..once they do I’m in.


Fast forward to the future.


Formula E might be the future but it is certainly not fast. But it’s fans do not care.

F1 has been losing audiences since 2009 and it has nothing to do with the racing. And definitely not because of the Mercedes era nor the Redbull era before it.

It has to do with demographics.

The Formula E racing fan is a new breed of motor racing fan. It does not care about the race or the racing itself but rather the technology, it’s perceived impact and most importantly, the event and it’s value for the money. Is it worth spending a whole day there when there are other forms of entertainment, tons, available for the same price or even cheaper?

These fans are also growing in numbers and most will be growing up with the series. You can watch a race with Mom and Dad for the price of a movie and some popcorn. By the time you earn your own coin, FE wil be faster, sexier and more popular than ever before. You might even find it on free-to-air mainstream tv. But it’s better to bring the kids to the race, it’s just a few blocks to downtown. You could take public transport or even park at the office underground parking lot.

Ross Brawn and company can revert back to NA engines and less wing cars that might sound better and produce closer racing but this will hardly make an impact on the dwindling numbers because this is not what the new demographic wants.

I really believe that F1 is on it’s last legs and will suffer the same fate boxing did when UFC, which also started slow, finally exploded onto the fight scene. It will survive because of us, older, diehard fans, but I won’t live forever.

The demographics are changing. Fast.


FanF1. You’vd summed up a lot of what’s going on. Fossilized thinking is no good. Racing has to contend with the stream on which it floats.


It has to do with demographics

I would argue it has more to do with greed, specifically putting F1 behind a paywall to line the pockets of a few rich people, whose only strategy was to take the money and run.

As a consequence of this short-sighted approach the younger generation were exposed to F1 much less than we were and have found other pastimes to engage with.


F1 used to be about high tech and high speed and competitiveness. Remember how many cars would not be able to finish the race because of mechanical breakdowns?
Engines are too reliable nowadays.
Bring back the refueling to stop them using lame engine modes.


Think it’s season 4 that’s approaching?

I get fed up with people dissing Formula E; it’s not F1, it’s a completely different concept based upon the fact that the oil isn’t going to last forever. F1 isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, and isn’t even my favourite form of motorsport, that would be GP2, which I wll start thinking of as F2 when the new car comes in next year.

There are some excellent drivers in FE, and the racing is close and entertaining. OK, so the engines don’t roar or scream like a V10 or V8, and it’s not as fast as other single seater formulae, but racing on street circuits sometimes barely wide enough for a decent kart circuit calls for precision driving.

The fact that more manufacturers are joining in means the industry is taking it seriously as a means of developing non-oil based propulsion technology.

There is life outside Formula 1.


The 2018 IndyCar looks cool.


Batteries that last a whole race – how long is that? Would it be 1.5 hrs?

Hate to always be the curmudgeon, but what is the reason for this series? I cannot get interested in a series when its basis is some wrong-headed social / environmental
objective. Plus it appears to be the spec of all spec series. Then when they speculate on getting rid of drivers and making it remote or self-driving, they they really get over the moon.
If this is such a competitive power source, then lets race.
Iv’e said it before, but there’s the deal. Use the same chassis regulations, i.e.. aero regs, weight, tires, etc. as present F1, and let the power units vary as to gas or pee-you or electric and then lets race.
Until then, it is just a girls league playing with themselves.


Using spec parts was their path to establishing the series – already teams are allowed to use alternative motors. They are opening up further and always planned to let teams develop their own parts – which is also part of why more manufacturers are moving in.


Ooh, aah; can’t agree more and disagree more with differing bits of your post…

F1 (for me at least) is inextricably linked to the concept of being the pinnacle of motorsport. That inevitably implies a technology driven series with freedom of design given a rule book. What that technology should be can and is debated here at length. Technology is invariably expensive.

On the other hand, I don’t have a problem with a series (FE in this case) having a function of bringing the concept of a technology to the masses. I am not sure that having batteries that cannot last a race or such a tight spec series does it any favours.

Unless you believe that hydrocarbons are here forever and/or that batteries will only ever be capable of lasting half a race, there will inevitably be convergence of these series. But by then electric technology will most likely be understood by the masses and FE will have successfully done its job.

F1 in the future is most likely to be unrecognisable to today’s audience in terms of the aerodynamic understanding or PU characteristics. The key is for the rule book to support those technologies that give great racing or inspire race craft and to avoid other aspects that diminish the sport, particularly through knee-jerk reactions to self-inflicted problems.

Roll on technology, roll on racing…


ChilliF. Hear! Hear!!


What does hydrocarbons have to do with motor racing? Once you take that bait, motor racing is banned. That is what the FIA is dallying with at the moment with Todt and the other bleeding heart officials.
Re; battery life – let it prove itself without taking in motor racing as a causality. Let the Musk/Tesla develop the battery without government subsidy – Motor racing is not a proving ground for political causes. That is what is huge in F1 today.


Now the self driving car series will cost nothing. DARPA along with the US taxpayers will pay for this.

A robotic military is a very dangerous thing I think.


Which series do you think has more actual road relevance today? Which is representative of what the automotive consumer marketplace will look like?

That’s why these manufacturers want in. They don’t have the product yet to sell you, but want you to think of their brands when you will be buying your next car 3 years from now, which is more and more likely to me electric.

There is so little real technological differentiation with electric cars I feel quite a few car brands will die in this transition. And if we choose to buy rides and not cars it will be slaughter in the automotive industry as probably less cars on the road would satisfy our needs.


I don’t know what series is most road relevant. I guess many think it’s Fe. I dunno.

Someone said Tesla batteries are crap. I’m not so sure that they have completed their production plant. If they are crap racing seems a good way to improve that unless batteries are standard for Fe. Ford seems to think NASCAR is relevant to them. The body shape has to match production models. Maybe software and fuel injection. I dunno.

It would be cool to see Ford building an F1 engine by maybe giving money and getting data from an interested 3rd party like Ilmor.

I dunno if any racing series applies to every day road cars. With that being said why not at least make an F1 car that has a clutch on the floor and a gear shift etc. It seems you can’t really drive bad and reduce reliability unless you wreck one.

F1 could make things much simpler and still be faster than any other racing series. I just don’t see the top team drivers having to fight the car much even though they pull higher g loads. The old V10s had to be fought more making them look faster. The side by side videos show the 2017 ones passing sectors quicker but they look slower except in qualifying to me.


It has to do with weight as well. People are so obsessed with horsepower but don’t also consider how much weight that HP is carrying around. The 2004 cars were much lighter and nimble sublime to watch flow through the Suzuka esses. Now the F1 are following road cars by becoming bigger heavier and less nimble. Colin Chapman had the right idea “simplify and add lightness”


why not discuss what is currently on the roads rather than future roads?
the sale of hybrids have gone up but majority of cars sold today are petrol powered. the demand for full electric is minimal.


Actually, latest data is that Electric market share is now 1.1% of all car units sold. That was very fast to that mark of 1% with the limited model offering to choose from and considering hybrids are 2%, and it took them two decades to get there and huge model selection.

The thing is, that anyone who’s a bit into technology and follows the car knows that electric adoption will be very fast. Customers are itching for it, and the manufacturers are just not giving us the product.

I think the electric new comers are determined to roll out automation and electric at about the same time. This may be a big hurdle to clear.
I’m betting Apple will be the first to clear it and make the market shift. I doubt any other brand can make it anything else but a novelty.

The established makers know that to automate the driver away means to take control away from the one paying for the purchase and the want to keep it non-automated for the electric shift. Plus, they really don’t have products you can buy, do they? It’s all been on the backs of Tesla and Chevy that electric sales have been carried. So really, while the established guys do a lot of talking, they actually keep selling petrol cars mainly like you say. Same like Mercedes in here with this hybrid PU AMG thing, while really top selling AMG engine is a V8.

However, Tesla is asking some real questions of the industry by including all the necessary hardware to go fully autonomous on the Model 3.

Because it is just batteries and coils and magnets, there isn’t much here. Battery tech is most important really. This is why I wonder how we’ll differentiate things when every car is running on basically an intel CPU. Then, who can make us want to pay for it more, and why will be the real question.


Sebee, not sure where your numbers are from, but here in Europe last year full electric sales rose by 2.9% to 90795, plug in hybrids rose 17% to 112999 and none plug in hybrids rose 29% to 303506. So it’s pretty clear to see which way the wind is blowing….


Road relevance is only a manufacturer thing at the moment. I don’t remember a push by the manufactures when the Mobil Gas Economy Run was teaching people to drive with an egg between the foot and accelerator peddle. That was when a petrol company was promoting against its own product! There was no political or social move against the internal combustion engine in that time.


So you prefer racing where finishing order is determined by money, instead of driver skill. Ok then. Very manly lol.

Don’t mistake me for some FE fanboy…it’s alright, has its pros and cons. But this kind of elitist attitude needs to follow Bernie out the door.

What’s the point of bicycle racing? What’s so good about pedal technology. I’ve said it before, you want to prove bikes are still worth while, let’s race. Put a guy on a bike vs a guy on a horse vs an F1 can, see who wins. Obviously the losers would have no point in existing.


Q. How fast do you want to go?
A. How much money do you have?

That is motor racing.


“…it is just a girls league playing *amongst* themselves.” Fixed that for you. This is a family friendly website, yaknow. 😉


Gene, a FE race lasts for 50 minutes. I can’t get interested in the series either, the cars a really slow.


All this talk about software, maps, etc…how would you guys feel if F1 made a simple announcement that 6 speed gated manual and clutch is back in F1 as regulation? Would you think of F1 as low tech because of that change?


If F1 announced “6 speed gated manual and clutch is back in F1.”

I wouldn’t know what the heck they are talking about, and wait patiently for people to start talking English again.

All your technical mumbo jumbo is lost on me, Pal. But I can generally tell when you are bad-mouthing my favourite sport.



It’s not just your favourite sport. Come over, I’ll show you a slide show. 🙂

When data experts start crunching data and declaring that driver is now 10%, probably less, and then you take that and watch them work, and you think about how the man&machine combo work and you can see it is true…doesn’t it take away from your favourite sport? Unless you’re an engineer that is. Perhaps that gets you excited like Mr. Charles here, all thrilled about how much he can do “for” the driver, when really he’s just taking away from the necessary driver skill.

I mean, here is a perfect example….Vettel, 4x WDC, he can’t figure out the perfect pole setup, so instead engineers do it for him at home base and he arrives to a ready setup. Now I know some will admire this, but I don’t. I want Vettel to deliver his setup. I want Lewis to deliver his setup. I want them to crack the chestnut, not a bunch of engineers working overnight. And honestly, who knows what they were working on? Setup? Engine software? We don’t really know. We only know what they say they did, and I’m sure that info release is not reviewed by PR before release to media.


Maybe Vettel actually relies less on this the others… As someone mentioned (probably you Sebee!), if it adds nothing to the show/race/spectacle then why is it allowed? But then, setups can get very complicated so what difference does it make to us? One team does better than another with the same rules, it makes little difference really – especially considering they all have simulation rigs, test drivers and teams back at base.


Ivé always thought of F1 as the peak of auto racing, always pushing the technical boundaries. Over the years many innovations have come out of F1 and many have been banned for what ever reason. F1 must continue to embrace the future where ever that takes it. Unless I’ve missed something over the last 40 or so years that’s usually where the big manufacturers are going.

But for those who still yearn for the “good olé days”

Sometimes I do as well.


all the lower series prepare drivers for f1 and they don’t use manual gearboxes.
even gp2 didn’t.


You’re right, we’re removing the necessary skill and they aren’t ready to arrive in F1 and change their own gears.

But that’s not the question. The question is, would you think less of F1 if gearbox was manual?


I looked and GP2 and Indycar use semi automatic boxes too. GP3 appears to be manual? No road relevance, already damned good auto or DSG boxes around if you want an auto for the road. A racing box is way too noisy for the road with straight cut gears, sequential, etc. FE had a few 3 speed boxes, but fastest were single speeds….

F1. Put back the manual cable or rod shift, but make it sequential and remove any electronic interfaces, so drivers have to watch hitting rev limiter, can fluff a change under pressure, and more importantly change gear while steering one handed. I prefer sequential to an H gate simply as it promotes heavier braking and spectacle.

The cars this year are separating the men from the boys, it was way too easy in the recent past. Make the cars harder to drive again still, then people will see more hero’s. Last year from onboard, it looked like a car I could drive in the race, this year it certainly doesn’t.

Reigning back the suspension will be harder, but the pre active cars in the Senna film were beasts on the bumps. Wonderful to watch. Watch Senna in a Lotus qualifying, and the car out of shape all over the place. 😀


“men from the boys” – i’d like to have seen verstappen in the mansell / senna turbo days!


Ahh the art of the driver. I will always remember the ’78 British GP and Brands watching Peterson getting very sideways out of Dingle Dell and then learning over the tannoy that he had got pole by a second from Mario. All the fans there just looked at each other in amazement!!


gp3 use a 6 speed longitudinal sequential hewland gearbox.


I used to be exemplary in reversing and driving backwards. I recently got into a 850 Ci and I was very rusty without the reverse camera with that long thing. Just a little example of what technology (driver aid) does. Somehow, we all managed before we had those cameras, right? Is that a lost skill?


Not so sure that making a car harder to drive is quite the answer, but one requiring more car control skill with less dependence on electronics and aero with more dependence on the ability to coordinate inputs is what your post suggests.

As long as you have all that down force and it’s working, they are glued to the road. The car control which we witnessed in the past is no longer that evident – though it may be there through other means we don’t see or understand.

Turning an engine up or down should only require attention to throttle control and rev count. Coordination of inputs by the pilot would be more responsible for production of lap times – not software.

Simply one “fan’s” opinion.



It all comes down to the simple basic fact.

There is a processor and software in each driver’s head.
There is a processor and software in each driver’s car.

The more software you run on one, the less software runs on the others.

Are engineers getting their way here too much? Why do we ever care bout who Phil Charles is and how excited he is about software, when everything he does is designed to take away from the driver.

And to be honest, I’m not sure drivers protest, because at the end of the day it makes their job easier. And who doesn’t want to have an easier day at work?


that’s all very well but they would have to permit teams to spend fortunes on more engines – software control of modern gearboxes is the driver for the massive reliability gains.


Oh my god, I agree with you Sebee. 😱

Was watching Senna this morning, seeing how much harder the cars were to drive with manual boxes was an amazing reminder of the different skills back then. Wonder if it’s on Ross Brawn’s list?


they were not much harder with manual gearboxes. taking the hand off the wheel is not a difficult task. we saw kubicca drive one handed a couple of times. we recently also saw hamilton drive one handed in baku while holding his headrest down at speeds over 200 mph. we also heard him saying “it’s ok, it’s ok” when the team asked him to pit.
nothing speacial about using a manual gearbox.


You haven’t see a driver flat out with one hand then. Even with power steering it’ll make a significant difference to cornering between good and average drivers. Hamilton did it on the straight, don’t remember Kubica doing it. You could do it for a few corners and lose a little, but over a race? The gearshift needs to be a bit away from the steering wheel though to help. The skill would be a driver still changing gear mid corner to extract the absolute maximum from the car. Watch any Monaco Senna qualifying lap with a manual box…


….and great point about Lewis driving one handed with the headrest. It really shouldn’t be possible…in my opinion.


are you suggesting he’s that much better than the rest of them?


Oh brother…come one. I’m suggesting that F1 car should require your entire attention the whole time, and most importantly all 4 limbs.

With no clutch, the foot is on the brake pedal all the time and there are no errors in shifts, and no errors in braking, and this leads to less passing.

With no shifter to reach for, drivers are driving with one hand. It’s just too…convenient.


Agreed aveli. But it would really make automation harder and it would make it harder to run those engine modes, yes?

It would also open the door to driver mistakes in shifts, which would promote real racing. You miss a shift, you make a mistake in a shift, you pay for it perhaps.


we only watch the sport sebee, so how would manual gearboxes make it more exciting to watch?
it doesn’t make a difference. it just frees up the drivers concentration to display better movement of cars through corners..


As noted above, you have a clutch, suddenly your feet have to handle 3 pedals. It’s an art form, and it’s also open to human error. Maybe your braking won’t be as perfect, maybe your shifts won’t be as clean. It opens a real human factor based opportunity for passing. Little more to do there in the cockpit, to ensure you don’t have time to hold a loose headrest and still drive a normal lap.


I would love to see purely manual shifting although I’ve no problem with “manual” paddle-shifting rather than the need for a “stick”. I think all the engine modes, engine maps and so on are ridiculous. Driver should pick his gear ratios and leave it like that. Setups are so complex now and the car going into one corner is essentially a different one going into the next. Not a great fan of that myself


how would such proposed changes improve the viewing?


Flappy paddles allow the driver to keep both hands on the wheel, I want one handed and changing gear within corners to maximise the car performance. Men from boys and all that.


post some of the old style races you enjoy so much..i’d love to enjoy to enjoy them too.


Even NASCAR uses a lot of software. I see no end to it.


NASCAR also uses manual and clutch.


no clutch in nascar!


I believe they have a clutch, but they don’t use it. They rev match. That’s a skill.

Plus, nature of the racing doesn’t require as many shifts, with exception of the 2 road races.


Yes. The argument is that the auto boxes are way faster than humans, thus better. It’s a never ending argument. Even the boys who took the Viper ACR V10 to Nurburgring admitted that manual transmission impacted their time and they don’t like the “fastest manual” tag, but want the fastest outright title.

Soon we’re going to automate and jobs will be lost. Many. I wonder if humans will admire the same automation in entertainment then.


Yes, although it would make precisely zero difference, except make the cars slower.
Could you explain how ghis is in anyway relevant to the appointment of Phil Charles to the Jaguar Formula E team?


Absolutely none!


Well, he’s all about software, and engine maps, similar things that manage the PU here. I mean in that last answer he’s beaming about engineers making a difference. When really they just take away from driver’s contribution with theirs.

And I was just curious if that is critical/necessary for is and if not having it would be perceived as not high tech. Like if a team was to not have these engineers do software, would that be bad? If software was…written by drivers during Grand Prix with hardware in hand, would we be OK with it as fans?


[JA note: This is what Sebastian Vettel credited Charles Leclerc for doing on Friday night of the Singapore GP weekend, which found the set up for him to take pole position.]

When you write something like this James, I bet you people think car setup like wing/aero when in reality it is related to Engine Modes map sequence automation for the specific circuit lap and associated software setups.


I think I’ll take the word of James Allen over your “theory”.


And yet another reason costs are out of control in F1. Easy to ban surely? Same with all the banks of people monitoring things during a race. Standard data logging system with a maximum number of sensors please, set limit of two people allowed to monitor the stream during the race. All these costs that add nothing to the show.


I would so dump all of that if I was in charge. What a waste of money allowing this is?


No buddy the larger teams have a test driver doing simulator work based on data from free practice.

It can make much more difference than engine modes. Software is a huge part of F1.


What software specifically do you mean, if not engine modes? ECU is standard, right?


That’s not what Vettel told me…but you have your theories ..


It’s gone beyond theories, it’s more of an illness.


How about a correction then James and explanation about what could have made such a difference in this setup from a stationary sim setup? We know software is a huge difference maker and it would make sense that engineers and software guys were working on the Q3 engine map there to me.

Surely I cannot be the only one here who would like to know how a guy who’s never actually driven this car around this circuit gave a pole setup to a 4x WDC.


Tells you a lot about your 4xWDC , doesn’t it.


It’s not a”stationary sim” it’s at least a 7 poster hydraulic rig, set up with every little bump and ripple in the track. They can duplicate everything that the real car feels and deals with in a lap, except aero. That the wind tunnel does.


He drove variants and the team measured lap time

When they found the answer they sent it through to the track

No one was suggesting that Leclerc Led the exercise but he’s fast enough to evaluate a chsnt
And of course he learns from that

Believe me he is a bright lad

I feel the same about Ocon – really bright

We will see if Leclerc is another on Verstappen’s level of speed in an F1 car – but he has a great racing brain


Thanks James for the insight. Indeed, makes sense that engineers would be evaluating options, and of course I didn’t not mean that he’s not capable. Just wondered how much he knows over a guy who’s driving the car for thousands of kilometers.

In the sim the engineers only test physical aero setup variants or can they evaluate other aspects as well, like those engine maps/software variants? Do bigger teams “waste” their money on software guys at track or do they happen to run 2 teams, one at track and one at engine shop?

Much appreciated…the light you shine on software in F1 and processes.


i don’t think it’s a matter of what he knows over someone else, but more a matter of having some guy of reasonable skill doing highly repetitive stuff over many hours. if the actual driver does those hours, i’m not sure he’ll be in the proper shape for the race/quali the next day.


I know this might sound dumb but are the batteries rechargeable or are they used once then binned?


@Michael G – The battery is a structural element of the car. They couldn’t afford to throw them away after every race, let alone rebuild the cars between practice and the race. The battery used up until now was required to charge in a hour.


Rechargeable and replacing them too soon gives a penalty.


Mercedes Porsche Jaguar big teams joining in a development battle in Formula E . Rather exciting. Sounds great.
Hopefully we’ll get the same “pad chargers” used for mobile phones, on the “E and Hybrid cars”. You just drive on a charging mat and “Bob’s your Uncle !!” your car is charged 😉
Unless you have a Apple iPhone battery that would need charging every hour on the hour 😄
Waiting Elon to bring in a “Big F Charger Mat” for garage drive ways 😁.
Jaguar are getting ready for the fight to come.
Mahendra have already decided to bail from Moto GP 3 and concentrate on F-E. Pity would like to see a Mahendra Hybrid Moto GP 3 bike in action .


I’m dumb too. I don’t think I watched one Fe race from front to back.

Will Formula E cars use regenerative braking since one car must last a race? That 2 car switch was a turn off to me.

I think Tesla is starting to make their own batteries and they have one of the largest automobile plants in the US since they outsource so little. I wonder why they don’t get into this?


Williams previously made the 28 kW/h, 170 kw batteries that weighed 200 kgs for FE and they were far superior to anything Tesla makes. They can handle higher loadings (more power output) for longer, due to superior liquid cooling.

Next season McLaren are supplying new batteries rated at 54 kW/h, 220 kw and weighing 250 kgs.


So you are saying the batteries are standardised? If so it seems to defeat the point. I now know that I know nothing about Formula E.


they have always used regenerative braking! Battery development has come on fast which s why they can now move to making them last the whole race.
Also there is a lot done with Teslas in motorsport – acceleration is enormously quick but drains the battery v quickly. 1/4 mile drags are quite something to watch.


I once saw a motorcycle that was battery powered for drag racing. That thing was quick.


Tesla batteries are crap compared to the Williams batteries used in FE.

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