After dipping its toe in the FIA Formula E Championship waters in a technical partnership with MS Amlin Andretti, BMW has confirmed it will be a full works entry from the series’ fifth season of 2018-2019, as part of BMW’s overall motorsport program.
The German manufacturer will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018 with a new GTE entry and will then see this program come online later in the same year. BMW AG was confirmed a little more than a week ago as one of nine homologated manufacturers for the fifth season of Formula E, when the series is expected to make its largest technological gains, yet.
“Since its inaugural season, Formula E has enjoyed rapid development and is now regarded as a high-level racing series,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt.
“BMW i has contributed actively as Official Vehicle Partner from the word go and has left its mark on the series. Other manufacturers have now followed suit.
“Everyone involved is delighted to be taking steps to get involved on the sporting and technological side of Formula E. Planning is underway to compete with a works team in season five. This required our registration as a manufacturer. This was completed by the required deadline.”
As noted, BMW i has been involved with Formula E since the series’ inception as the Official Vehicle Partner. In September last year, it formally confirmed its technical partnership with Andretti Autosport.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.