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Q&A: TG chats Formula E with Jaguar Racing’s Adam Carroll

Jaguar’s Irish driver describes what it’s like to race an electric single-seater

Northern Ireland’s Adam Carroll won the 2009 A1 GP championship, the British F3 series back in 2002 and has raced in IndyCar, DTM and GT cars. Next month, he’ll lead Jaguar Racing’s, ahem, charge in Formula E. TG grabbed Adam for a quick chat at the Jaguar launch ceremony to see how electric racing cars compare to the noisy petrol-drinking stuff…

TG: Adam, you’ve done loads of single-seater racing – what’s it like managing all the torque of an electric racing car?

Adam Carroll: They’re interesting when you first jump in one and drive it. As soon as you ask for the power, it’s just there, and then it keeps on pulling. 

They can be quite lively on these little small street circuits But in the future, as [the regulators] allow the power to creep up and up and up… when we get to 300kW on these tyres, that’ll be very lively.

TG: To a layman a Formula E car looks like it’s got masses of aero, but you don’t have that many high-speed corners. Do you generate any downforce to work with out there?

AC: For a single-seater, there’s very little downforce. That’ a good thing, because the cars are very mechanical-based. It keeps the costs down, makes it all about the powertrain. As you see in Formula One, aerodynamics is a black art once you open it up. Even the biggest teams with the biggest budgets can get it wrong, so it’s very nice that these cars are consistent. 

The aero does work, but it doesn’t overpower the mechanical grip, which is why the cars can follow so closely and get right in behind the car in front. That’s exactly what you want. 

TG: But does that mean Formula E cars are a bit easier to drive that something depending on huge downforce?

AC: They have their own personality. It’s electric, it’s got grooved tyres [not slicks], and not tonnes of downforce, so it’s not like the thing is stuck down in the corners. 

It’s a good balance, but to extract the best out of them is quite a narrow window. There’s a new tyre as well which has made them more challenging – the performance is still there for the taking but it makes the drivers work a little bit harder. 

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