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Formula E

McLaren must keep 'expectations in check'

Neom McLaren have made a stellar start to Season 10 but Team Principal Ian James is aware that there is still a lot of racing ahead.

McLaren - Diriyah - 2024
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To news overview © Simon Galloway / Formula E

The start of Formula E Season 10 has been an odd one in many ways, given that the three rounds completed so far have been fairly uneventful. However, several storylines have already been discovered, including the solid improvement made by Neom McLaren.

Whilst the Jaguar and Porsche-powered teams have remained at the top of the pecking order, McLaren has closed the gap significantly, as proven by its strong pace both in Mexico City and Diriyah.

McLaren has had one car finish in the top five in two of the three races to date in 2024, with their pace most recently in the Diriyah double-header has been exceptional. Jake Hughes finished seventh in Mexico City and fourth – a career-best result – in the second race of the Diriyah weekend, whilst Sam Bird finished fourth in the first race in the Middle East.

The Woking-based outfit being quick is nothing new, as it demonstrated in its maiden Formula E campaign in 2023 that it was one of the fastest teams over one lap. The same couldn't be said for race pace, with the Nissan customer side having struggled with their energy management.

As a result, this was a key focus for McLaren during the off-season, and it appears the hard work has paid off. In Diriyah, McLaren had the best energy efficiency on the grid, something the side previously could only dream of.

It is now in a position where it can realistically target trying to get both cars in the points, a feat yet to be achieved this year. Nevertheless, despite the positive results, Team Principal Ian James has outlined that more is wanted.

Fighting leading teams 'very encouraging'

"I think on one hand, we thought we could get both cars in the points," James told RacingNews365 in Diriyah after the second race of the E-Prix. "That was very much our intention [in race one], even starting from where we did.

"So it's a little bit bittersweet in that respect. And that's a good thing, because it means, as a team, despite the challenges from last season, gained this season, the fact that we're not completely satisfied with what we've achieved, I think is very healthy.

"But testament to the team and what they've done over the off-season because I think we seem to be a lot more on top of things in terms of the race management and the energy management. Energy was super healthy, so now I think we've got cause for optimism, which is good."

As impressive as McLaren's start to the sophomore campaign has been, James recognises that the style of racing will change in the coming races, where energy management will be more important.

This will be the real test for the British team to see if the efficiency progress is genuine.

"I think we've got to keep our expectations in check for this season and we've had some solid results at the start of this season, but it's early days," insisted James.

"I think the style of racing that we've seen so far, both in Mexico, and here, has been less energy sensitive. I think that's probably going to change in Sao Paulo and beyond.

"So I wouldn't necessarily say that we're in a position to take the fight to the Jaguars, the Porsches, even the Stellantis-powered teams. But having said that, it's very encouraging to see that we're in the mix.

"We've just got to continue to be consistent, get both cars in the points, and I'd love to see some podiums on the table for the season as well."

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