Mitch Evans and Jaguar Racing believe they were a victim of a patent flaw in the qualifying system that ruled them out of any chance to challenge for the Formula E title in Berlin as the Kiwi slumped from second to seventh in the space of six races.
Evans had an 11-point deficit to eventual series champion Antonio Felix da Costa widen to a mammoth 87 points after the final race of the Berlin season finale. The Kiwi only scored in three of the final six races at the Tempelhof Airport circuit with a best result of seventh.
It was a drastic drop in form that Evans struggled to explain, admitting preparation levels were strong and team expectations were high considering the opening half of the season had been Jaguar’s most successful start since its inception in the all-electric formula.
“We came [to Berlin] with really high expectations and had really good prep,” said a puzzled Evans.
“But for some reason, it’s not transformed onto the track.
“I would have preferred if these last six races were held in Mexico as that track really suited me and the Jaguar I-TYPE 4.
“It’s a shame, after coming into Berlin in a promising position, but tomorrow I will put it all behind me. We’ll come back stronger next year and have another crack at it.”
Evans and teammate James Calado reported after the first Berlin race that they had been suffering with extensive car handling issues, believing the car had lost its operating window that made it respond well to set-up changes.
But Evans’ team principal James Barclay believes his team was victimised by qualifying regulations that disadvantage those drivers higher in the championship.
The top six drivers in the standings make up the first group of qualifying, essentially making those drivers set a lap time in the worse track conditions and often resulting in the fastest cars starting towards the pack.
The format is aimed at creating competitive grids with an arbitrary flavour but criticised by going against the ethos of qualifying by penalising teams that develop the fastest car.
Ultimately, several drivers who found themselves well down on Evans in the standings before the coronavirus-induced season suspension were able to set a better qualifying position which led to them scoring a healthy bag of points and overtake the Kiwi in the championship.
“Unfortunately, we’ve been victim, again, to the qualifying system – as we have been for all six races here in Berlin,” said Barclay.
“It’s very frustrating for the team as we’ve shown we have an incredibly fast racecar.
“As a team we feel we’ve been disadvantaged here in Berlin but we take away the positives – an incredible win in Mexico City, a Pole position in Santiago and the speed we’ve shown, particularly in Marrakesh.
“Our season seven preparations have already begun and we are more determined than ever to fight for podiums and wins when Mitch and Sam [Bird] get back on track in January 2021 in Santiago, Chile.”
While Barclay’s comments paint a picture of a potential flaw in the qualifying system, da Costa, who was also a part of the same group as Evans in each of the six races, qualified on the front row on three separate occasions.
Evans will also have a new teammate from next season with outgoing Envision Virgin pilot Sam Bird replacing Calado.
As highlighted by Barclay, season seven preparations for Jaguar have already begun and will be the last season under the Gen2 regulations.
Teams will also only be able to modify powertrain components once over an extended two year homologation period. Should Jaguar develop an all-new powertrain for the 2020/21 season, the team will be forced to run that system for a minimum of two years.
Season seven will also be entirely run in 2021 to minimise the effects of the global pandemic with the opening race currently pencilled in for January 16 in Chile.