The BMW iFE20, BMW’s Season 6 Formula E car, made its debut in a Facebook and YouTube presentation on Monday, October 14, and then, on the following day took to the track in Valencia, Spain for three days of pre-season testing.
The BMW i Andretti Team’s two iFE20s were driven at Valencia by Maximilian Günther, the team’s new driver for Season 6, along with Alexander Sims, who is returning to the team for a second season. Sims’ return had been anticipated; a formal announcement was made in the week before the introduction of the car.
In the release accompanying the introduction, the close collaboration between racing and production is noted. BMW says, “Despite all the sporting ambition and aspirations on the racetrack, the technology transfer between racing and series production remains a central pillar of our involvement in Formula E. Our objective for the works entry for Season 5 was to establish an efficient technology cycle between BMW i Motorsport and BMW i and we were very successful. BMW i engineers are already benefitting enormously from the technological insights we are getting from the extreme use case of Formula E as they develop future production model engines. We will continue this close collaboration next season, for the benefit of both parties.”
The changes to the new car are evolutionary. As the chassis is set by series regulations, the changes that BMW makes focus on the drivetrain. BMW notes that “The characteristic of the BMW Racing eDrive02 was revised based on the detailed information on the individual racetracks that the team gathered in their maiden season, and modified to suit the specific challenges of Formula E races. The changes affect the E-motor and the inverter. The main goal of the modifications is to improve the efficiency of the drivetrain. The same glycol as is used in production vehicles is now also used for its water circulation system. The BMW i Motorsport engineers also optimized the software that calculates energy management strategies, and the simulator in Munich. The rear-end structure was also reworked, to provide more flexibility for the set-up.”
The Valencia test was successful, with the cars getting in a full three days of running. Günther set the fastest time recorded in the event, but team principal Roger Griffiths noted that the lap time was not the most important takeaway from the test. He said, “It is obviously nice to end the test week with Maximilian Günther’s fastest time at the top of the timing list. However, that does not mean an awful lot. We were also strong here last year, but were then unable to put that into practice over the whole season. For us as a team, it was much more important to optimize our internal processes and work together even better and more efficiently. I think we have taken a good step forward in that regard. That fact makes me more confident about the season ahead than the lap times do.”
Season 6 begins in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, on November 22–23.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]