Mini's new electric hatchback could be the next Formula E safety car
I wasn't expecting that
BMW will leave Formula E at the end of the current season, a decision they openly explained with relative candour in a note that read, "When it comes to the development of e-drivetrains, BMW Group has essentially exhausted the opportunities for this form of technology transfer in the competitive environment of Formula E". The German marque might continue to supply the Andretti team with powertrains but other than that, they're out. And on their way out, they're likely to take their BMW i8 Formula E safety car with them while MINI looks like the most likely candidate to replace them at the moment.
A custom made (and roofless) BMW i8 with a massive wing has been used as Formula E Safety Car since Season 1 (2014) and with the i8 going out of production soon and BMW leaving Formula E, it doesn't make much sense to keep using the car. Meanwhile in a recent tweet, MINI (owned by BMW) shared a cryptic teaser image of what might actually be the long-awaited electric MINI JCW... with safety car-style lights on the roof. The caption read "Feels like it's time for a boost. Watch this space... #ElectricThrillMaximised".
A MINI Safety Car may sound a bit ambitious but because of the way Formula E tracks are laid out, the safety car doesn't necessarily have to be a supercar. Performance and power aren't a problem either as the electric JCW will almost certainly be faster than the i8.
BMW and MINI are fully committed to 'electricity', everyone is these days, and the fact of the matter is there aren't that many brands in Formula E that produce electric sportscars as they've been prioritizing SUVs and CUVs. Porsche and Audi, for example, would probably love to use the Taycan and the E-Tron RS as safety cars but at the end of the day, both are 4-door sedan that are way too big and bulky for the street circuits that Formula E uses.