Formula E

Team Principal Ian James: McLaren FE “ready and at fighting strength” for debut in Mexico City

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Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

The wait for the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team is virtually over, with the side being just a couple of days away from making their debut appearance in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, at this weekend’s season-opening Mexico City E-Prix.

The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez is a “great backdrop” for the Woking-based team’s first race in the all-electric series, having successfully taken over the team that was previously known as the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, who are, of course, the reigning Constructors’ Champions. With that in mind, the majority of staff who worked for the Mercedes-EQ outfit have transitioned across to McLaren, including, rookie driver Jake Hughes and Team Principal Ian James.

Hughes was previously Mercedes-EQ’s reserve driver, whereas for McLaren this season he is part of a very talented driver line-up, which also includes the returning René Rast. Rast last competed in Formula E in Season Seven, before leaving the sport at the same time as Audi‘s departure. Hughes and Rast form an interesting combo, and one that looked strong during pre-season testing.

For Season Nine and the start of Gen3, McLaren are a customer side of the Nissan Formula E Team, with the British outfit having the Japanese manufacturer’s powertrains at their disposal. There is much anticipation surrounding the new papaya-coloured outfit, who looked like one of the only teams capable of challenging the DS-powered cars during testing. Hughes was often in the top five of the timesheets during the week of testing, and even claimed victory in a mock-race, highlighting both his and the team’s potential.

With Formula E entering a new era anything is possible, with James certain that his team are “ready and excited” for the journey ahead. The team’s boss believes Gen3 will be the “most competitive” era of the all-electric series, meaning that the domination that Mercedes-EQ enjoyed is perhaps not going to be replicated anytime soon.

Looking ahead to the season opener, James is adamant on one thing, that his squad are “ready and at fighting strength” for Mexico City with a “strong foundation” having been set.

“Since our transition into the McLaren Racing family, we’ve been working with a clear intent: to be ready and at fighting strength for the first race of the season in Mexico City. The first race weekend is now less than a week away, and we are ready and excited for the challenges that will face us during the weekend.

“Challenges that will most certainly come from our competitors; we’ve seen that everyone has taken a significant step forward in every aspect of their performance, meaning that Gen3 is likely to be the most competitive Formula E generation yet.

“From our side, it hasn’t been an easy or straightforward task and we are definitely not fully satisfied yet, but from what I can see so far, we can be happy with what we’ve achieved to date in such a short amount of time. We’ve been able to build on the strong foundation we have put in place over the last couple of years, and have started to enhance this with the unique strengths of the McLaren Racing.

“It’s a fantastic time for the sport, for the championship: this weekend will see the official debut of a new generation of cars, as well as new teams on the grid. For us, it’s our official debut as the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, with a complete new driver line-up in Jake and René.

“Mexico City is a great backdrop; one of the most exciting races on the calendar with a fanbase like no other. I’m looking forward to kicking off this chapter in style in this amazing city.” 

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