BMW's i and M divisions have finally come together.
BMW may have just entered the FIA Formula E Championship as a competitor, but it's been providing the series with its support vehicles – including its safety cars – from the outset. And this is the latest.
Unveiled at this past weekend's Mexico City ePrix, the new BMW i8 safety car (or what Americans would call a "pace car”) features an all-new livery, penned by BMW Motorsport design chief Michael Scully, to closely emulate the look of the new iFE.18 currently being fielded by the BMW/Andretti team. But there's more than a paint job that differentiates it from the road version.
The Bavarian automaker has also fitted it with a range of BMW M components, including a roll bar, front splitter, rear wing, carbon-fiber engine-compartment cover, carbon-ceramic brakes, beefed-up suspension, emergency lighting on the roof, and a stripped-out cockpit fitted with the seats from the M4 GTS and four-point harnesses.
As far as we know, though, the powertrain carries over from the production version. The 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine is paired with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack to deliver a combined 369 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque for a 4.2-second 0-60 sprint.
"As with the BMW iFE.18, the first priority when designing the Safety Car was the top view of the car,” explained Scully. "We have translated the themes found in the design of the BMW iFE.18 to the very different proportions of the BMW i8 Coupe.”
The BMW i Andretti Motorsport team currently sits third in the championship standings, its star driver Antonio Felix da Costa second, on the strength of his season-opening victory in Saudi Arabia and a second-place finish in Mexico City this past weekend. His rookie teammate Alexander Sims, however, has struggled to land on the podium so far.