Tales from the paddock: Ian James: “Adaptability and flexibility play a key role”

Dec 22, 2021

As Mercedes-AMG Motorsport rounds off the year with another title in Customer Racing, Ian James is already looking ahead to Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

  • This is what happened: Results and facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
  • Five questions for Ian James
  • Social media news: What’s new online?
  • Our next Motorsport Newsletter will be published in the new year. We thank you for being such great people to work with over the past season and wish you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • Imperio Endurance Brasil: Ricardo Baptista and Cacá Bueno clinch championship title in grand finale at the Autódromo Internacional de Goiânia

News snippets

Title win for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in the Imperio Endurance Brasil: In the season finale of the 2021 Imperio Endurance Brasil series, the Customer Racing teams added another title to Mercedes-AMG Motorsport’s handsome haul for the season. The Team RC pairing of Ricardo Baptista and Cacá Bueno (both BRA) were crowned the new GT3 champions of the series, thereby contributing a 31st title in the Customer Racing sphere. A P5, equivalent to third in class, in the final race was enough for the driver duo in the number 27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to lift the trophy. Their team-mates Maurizio Billi, Marco Billi and Max Wilson (all BRA) in the number 83 sister car took third place overall and the class win in the GT3 class. Second place in the GT3 classification of the four-hour race went to Xandinho Negrão and César Ramos (both BRA) in the number 9 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Team Mattheis Motorsport.

Fourth and fifth in class were the cars of AMG CAC Competiçoes (#8) and Racing M3 (#3). With Mercedes entrants monopolising the Top Five in the GT3 class, it would be difficult to conceive of a more perfect end to the Brazilian Endurance Championship.

Podium success for Mercedes-AMG in the DNLS: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport is also becoming a force to be reckoned with in virtual motorsport. In the second round of the Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series (DNLS) presented by Goodyear on 12 December, a Mercedes-AMG E-Sports team once again ascended the victory podium, with Norbert Kiss (HUN) and Jack Sedgwick (GBR) in the number 57 Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team WINWARD taking third place in the NIMEX 3-hour race. Of the five digital versions of the successful GT3 model competing in the race, two more finished in the Top 10: Marek Böckmann, Lucas Müller and Jan-Philipp Springob (all GER) driving the #111 of Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team M&J Performance by HRT came home in seventh place, while Florian Denzler, Danny Giusa (both GER) and Morris Schuring (NED) finished eighth in the #101 of Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team Landgraf. Despite a problematic race in which they had to settle for 12th place, Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team HRT still top the championship table.

Five questions for Ian James

With Nyck and Stoffel, Mercedes will once again benefit from having the services of a well-proven driver pairing in Season 8. How important is this continuity for the team?

Ian James: Continuity and stability definitely play a big role. How does the saying go? ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ But at the same time, there’s another old adage that being successful does not automatically mean that there’s no room for improvement. Yes, we’ve stuck to our plans to consolidate here in the UK at Brackley and Brixworth and to ensure that we achieve the synergies there that we need to deliver, but that has to be balanced with a certain amount of stability, and it’s fantastic that the central players in the team remain intact going forward into Season 8. Nyck and Stoffel both play an absolutely key role in what we do. They’ve been phenomenal as drivers so far while also making a huge contribution to the development of this team that we’ve built up from scratch. Having that continuity going into Season 8 is definitely a tremendous advantage.

Are you all looking forward to new venues and fresh challenges on the racing calendar?

Ian James: Everyone is really looking forward to a return to racing, but it’s also important to accept that there’s still a long way to go if we’re going to put the challenges brought on by the pandemic behind us entirely. We must continue to be cautious in our approach, but at the same time, you can feel all over the world that we’re making steps in the right direction. With that in mind, I hope that we’ll get closer to where we want to be in Season 8 as regards events and engagement with the fans. We’ve got an incredible racing calendar ahead with plenty of exciting new venues such as Vancouver, Seoul and Jakarta. We’re really looking forward to putting Formula E back where it belongs.

What are your expectations as regards the new qualifying format?

Ian James: The new qualifying format should prove fascinating, be even more exciting for fans and bring fresh challenges for both drivers and teams. Quite apart from that, I think there will be a greater emphasis on performance once more, which is what we all wanted to see this season. While we may be well underway with preparations, obviously, you never know how things are going to pan out until you’ve tried them. But still, I feel very optimistic. It’s going to be a step in the right direction. Energy management has always played a crucial role in Formula E. It will become even more important this season with changes to the rules (more power, possible race extensions).

Will that have a big effect on your approach to strategy, do you think?

Ian James: The fundamentals will remain unchanged, but the devil is in the detail, as we all know. It will certainly have an impact on strategy, and we’re already working hard to get to grips with the details. Many hours are being worked on the simulator at the moment. Our engineers, be they race, performance or strategy engineers, are looking at all the various elements, trying to predict the different scenarios that we might come across during the year. Of course, it’s impossible to predict every single permutation, which is why the ability to adapt and remain flexible plays a key role. Still, I’m confident that we have the right team to meet the challenge head on.

Why is Season 8 going to be the best, not just for the team, but for Formula E as a whole?

Ian James: We’ve seen over the years since Formula E came on the scene that the series and level of competition have improved. The pandemic has curbed that upward trend to some extent. Being able to hold events at all has been tremendously challenging, and the FIA, FEO and everyone involved deserve some recognition for ensuring that we could continue. Hopefully, we’ve now reached the stage where normality can return when it comes to hosting events, which will give us an amazing opportunity to demonstrate our full potential and enable us to continue to make progress. The new Season 8 regulations will really serve to liven Gen2 up again, which should be terrific this season, but we mustn’t lose sight of Gen3 and the future. We’ve got an incredibly exciting nine or ten months in prospect and everyone in the team is well up for the task ahead.

Social Media News

#TripDownMemoryLane: Five years, five fantastic racing cars, five championship-winning cars – Valtteri Bottas takes a trip down memory lane and shares his fondest memories of his five Mercedes F1 cars, from the W08 to the W12.

Watch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ke4SDsaBco

#LastVideo: At the end of five fantastic years at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas and Team Principal Toto Wolff sit down once more to reflect on their time together.

Watch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np-syubcb9Y

#ValenciaReview: Team Principal Ian James talks about the future of mobility, the vital role played by  team spirit in Season 8 and the special allure of #WeDriveTheCity.

Watch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx7CCPAgMDQ

#57 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team WINWARD
#4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team HRT
#101 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team Heusinkveld
#70 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG E-Sports Team Landgraf
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, Launch
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, Launch
Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, Launch
Ricardo Baptista (left) and Cacá Bueno, Team RC
#27 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Team RC