BMW unveiled the livery for its 2018–2019 Formula E car, the BMW iFE.18, in a September 14 press event at BMW Welt in Munich, and announced that Alexander Sims will drive for the team along with António Félix da Costa.
Sims, coming off two consecutive GTLM class wins in the IMSA WeatherTech Series along with Connor De Phillippi in a Team RLL M8 GTE, will become the Formula E team’s second driver in Season 5, which begins in Saudi Arabia in December. Félix da Costa, who has been competing in Formula E since season one, returns for his third season with Andretti.
Sims and Félix da Costa have run together in BMW GT racing, sharing an M8 GTE at Le Mans in 2018 along with Augusto Farfus. Sims has been testing Formula E cars for BMW for two years. Sims said, “Formula E has quickly become the place for top manufacturers and top drivers to meet. I am honored to be entrusted with taking on this adventure in collaboration with BMW i Motorsport.” While there are conflicts between Formula E Season 5 and the 2019 IMSA races at Daytona and Long Beach that would affect Sims, there are no conflicts between Formula E and remaining events in the 2018-2019 WEC season, including Le Mans 2019.
The Formula E team will be known as BMW i Andretti Motorsport. Until this season, BMW has partnered with Andretti. The partnership continues, with Andretti’s Roger Griffiths continuing as team principal. But now BMW takes the lead and supplies the powertrain for the new car.
The presentation of BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt and other BMW executives at the Munich briefing focused on the relationship between the production i cars and the race car. Marquardt said, “BMW’s expertise in the BMW iFE.18 is primarily in the heart of the vehicle, the drivetrain. We told the production engineers designing the electric motor and inverter: ‘Forget about all the considerations you would usually have in development, and just think about performance, the greatest efficiency, the lowest weight. When we’ve reached that point, you can think about how to integrate that into series production later on.’ Our BMW Motorsport engineers designed the rear-axle including suspension and had to integrate the drivetrain in the rear end of the race car. The knowledge we gain in this highly competitive environment then flows straight back into production development. This is the perfect implementation of our motto: from the racetrack to the road.”
The livery of the car was designed with the street circuits on which Formula E runs in mind. Michael Scully, BMW motorsport head of design, noted that the design of the BMW iFE.18 is defined by the urban context of Formula E. He said, “Formula E races are held on tight circuits in city centers, and we recognized that spectators typically see the cars from positions that are higher and closer to the track than many other forms of racing. We’ve embraced that unique constellation, and the top view of the car is where we started: it sets the overall schematic for the livery of the BMW iFE.18.
“The iconic blue-and-white quarters of the BMW logo are the basis for a bold scale composition; structuring each key view of the BMW iFE.18. The alternating sequence of contrasting colors and shapes provide maximum visibility at racing speeds and make the BMW iFE.18 unmistakably a BMW. The daring asymmetrical layout also shares the functionally-derived non-reflective matte black cockpit element seen on 2018 BMW M Motorsport liveries.
“A color gradient from light blue at the front of the car to dark blue at the rear conveys motion and transition: both relevant themes in the context of E-mobility. Imbedded within the livery is a connective graphic network of blue and purple ‘veins’ carrying the natural colors of raw electricity throughout the BMW iFE.18. Occasional purple ‘synapses’ propagate at network intersections and grow in number within proximity of the BMW i drivetrain. On the BMW iFE.18, no two perspectives are the same, literally.”
Season 5 marks the debut of Generation 2 cars for all manufacturers. The Generation 2 cars have a new chassis and aerodynamic package, more power, a drive-by-wire braking system, and enough battery capacity to last an entire race. This feature means that drivers will no longer change cars on pit stops, as they did in previous seasons.—Brian Morgan