McLaren FE team principal talks about his first meeting with F1 boss Andrea Stella

McLaren Formula E team principal Ian James (Image courtesy: McLaren media images)
McLaren Formula E team principal Ian James (Image courtesy: McLaren media images)

Ian James believes McLaren’s multiple ventures in Motorsport are a good synergetic exchange and benefit each other significantly.

The McLaren FE team principal claims they share a very close relationship with the F1 team and have received a lot of support from them.

Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda in Rome, James explained the symbiotic relationship between the McLaren F1 team and the FE team, saying:

“I think the key difference is now more the fact that we are a customer team as opposed to a works team and a manufacturer. It’s less do with the Mercedes dynamic and more to do with the fact that we are now partnered with Nissan, who have been incredibly supportive and collaborative throughout which is great."
"But when I look at the link between the F1 team and the FE team, actually we learnt in the past that if we can leverage those synergies, then we’ll all benefit from that. What I found at McLaren (was) they were incredibly open to it. When Andrea Stella took on his new role, one of his first meetings that we had together was really just focusing how can we learn together and we are very fortunate.”

He further explained the symbiotic relationship between the McLaren FE team and the F1 team, saying:

“We have got Hiroshi here this weekend who is chief engineer from the F1 side. He is taking a look at how we operate and I’ve seen him scribbling in his notebook, taking a few notes back as well. Of course beyond that we’ve got Extreme E which we look after from the NEOM McLaren Electric Racing side of things and we’ve got the Indy Car team as well so I’ve had the opportunity to go out to Indy as well and see how they operate."
"As long as we keep that open dialogue there’s nothing stopping us from learning from each other. I think that will turn into a real competitive advantage going forward.”

After Mercedes' departure, McLaren acquired the team and have now extended their presence in almost every important series in Motorsport. Ian James, who heads the McLaren team was spotted in the F1 paddock and felt the two divisions in Woking and Bicester Heritage work closely together.

Formerly a championship-winning works team member under the Mercedes badge, James believes the only difference now is that they are a customer team. He mentioned that Hitoshi Imani, who is the Director of Race Engineering at McLaren Racing was present at the FE weekend in Rome to analyse their performance.

Having visited the Woking brand’s Indy car team too, James feels their various ventures in Extreme E, F1, and Indy can benefit each other significantly.

McLaren FE team principal hopes they can live up to the brand’s heritage with their current team’s progress

McLaren FE team principal Ian James feels fortunate to be able to continue their FE project in season 9, after the departure of Mercedes at the end of season 8 of the series.

The Briton claims that they’ve received great support from their manufacturer Nissan over the course of the season. While they are not in the same position in the championship as they were before, James believes the support they’ve received from Zak Brown and the Woking division of the brand has benefited them greatly.

Asked by Sportskeeda how their maiden season had progressed so far, James said:

“First and foremost we are just glad to be able to continue this venture with Formula E. that was very much the priority when things changed at the end of season 8. And obviously we were looking forward to starting a new chapter. The fact that we are here, the fact that we are racing , the fact that we have a competitive car and team and overall package is fantastic.There is a lot of hardwork that has gone into achieving that."
"And you know it’s been challenging, its a new generation of cars. As I mentioned before a new partner with Nissan as well, two new drivers and we are on a steep learning curve again. Maybe some of the results haven’t been quite as we would have liked. But overall I am pleased that we are here and we’ve got a solid foundation on which we can build and get where we want to be.”

He added:

“We are very fortunate in the fact that we’ve got great support back from the team in the UK and we are split between Bicester Heritage and Woking of course. Zak and the rest of the exec team love the fact that McLaren’s in Formula E. They’ve been nothing other than fully supportive and at the same time leave us alone to get on with it."
"So I’m hoping that over time we’ll be able to do the McLaren brand proud and they are celebrating their 60th anniversary in Motorsport this year and its now upto us to make sure that we continue those steps to get us back into that race winning and hopefully championship winning status.”

After the doubleheader in Rome, McLaren are currently seventh in the team championship standings. Their drivers Jake Hughes and Rene Rast are 12th and 13th respectively in the driver’s championship. Hughes is currently tied at points with ex-FE champion and former Mercedes FE team driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who is now with the DS Penske team.

The Papaya Orange FE squad is currently ahead of their powertrain supplier Nissan, one of the signs of their progress. In the first race in Rome, Hughes did not start the race whereas Rast retired from the race. In the second race, Hughes finished 11th while Rast finished 13th.

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