McLaren’s Ian James: “We have kicked off the season with a solid performance”

The NEOM McLaren Formula E Team produced a solid debut at the Mexico City E-Prix last weekend, to kickstart Gen3 and the 2022/23 season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

Formula E’s newest team were already tipped as an outfit to watch ahead of the weekend at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, after performing strongly at the official pre-season test. Jake Hughes was one of the fastest drivers during pre-season testing and started the season in fine fashion, after making it to the Semi-Final duels in qualifying. The rookie driver was sadly knocked out by eventual race winner Jake Dennis; however, his lap-time against his fellow ‘Jake’ was the second fastest in qualifying.

Hughes started the first race of the year from third and maintained the position for the majority of the race, before being overtaken by Pascal Wehrlein whilst trying to activate his second Attack Mode. The rookie driver was then caught napping by André Lotterer on the last-lap, who snatched fourth from the Brit. Hughes’ unawareness resulted in him finishing fifth rather than fourth; however, it was still an impressive result given that it was his debut.

For the returning René Rast it was a disappointing weekend, after qualifying in fifteenth. The German’s race wasn’t much better despite having made up some places, after retiring in the closing laps of the race following a collision with Oliver Rowland, breaking his suspension.

Whilst Rast’s result wasn’t what was hoped for, McLaren certainly have a car that can challenge for the points, as proven by Hughes. With that in mind, Team Principal Ian James has labelled the team’s first weekend in the sport as “solid”, with the McLaren boss being “massively proud” of what the team have achieved so quickly.

“It’s been a long time in the making but, finally, we have been able to celebrate the race debut of the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, here in Mexico City. A phenomenal location to be able to kick off the season, as well as our journey as part of the McLaren Racing family in Formula E and GEN3. Mexico City never disappoints and the fans here seem to embrace electric racing with a passion.

“As a team, we have kicked off the season with a solid performance. Jake has been outstanding all weekend and showed what he can do with a P3 in Qualifying and P5 in the race. For René, it was less a less straightforward weekend. However, it’s clear the foundation is there, and he will be able to build on that. I am massively proud of the team. A lot of work and effort has been put into getting us ready for the season over the past few months, and that effort has resulted in some solid points. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings! Next up: Saudi, in less than two weeks’ time.”

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown was also present at the race and shared his thoughts on the Woking-based team’s first appearance in Formula E. Brown was impressed by both Hughes and Rast and is incredibly pleased to see McLaren in “yet another racing series”, one that they certainly look set to be competitive in.

“What a start to our Formula E journey as the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team! The team has been working really hard in the build-up to the season and that has started to pay off here in Mexico. It’s super exciting to be part of this series and now finally get it underway.

“Jake delivered superbly on his debut, starting the race from an impressive P3, finishing P5. René put in a solid performance, but unfortunately wasn’t able to finish the race. I can’t wait for more to come from this team in 2023 and beyond, this is just the start of the journey. Having the McLaren Racing brand represented in yet another racing series shows that we are serious about what we do: racing. Bring on Season 9!”