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BMW confirms season five Formula E works role with Andretti team

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Just as Audi formally confirmed its works status within the FIA Formula E Championship last week and will take over the name of ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport from season four of the electric open-wheel championship, BMW has now done the same on Tuesday morning to confirm its works status and name takeover of the MS Amlin Andretti operation.

BMW and Andretti have enjoyed a technical partnership and by season five of the series, set for 2018-2019, BMW will build an all new powertrain as the works entry into the championship.

JF Thormann, Andretti executive vice president, told my colleague Luke Smith at the Hong Kong season opener in October 2016 the partnership was a “match made in heaven.”

BMW confirmed it would be a works entry in the fifth season back in April, but didn’t specify its team partnership, although it was anticipated it would continue with Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport operation.

“Through our involvement in Formula E, we are addressing the development towards sustainable and emission-free mobility in the automobile industry and are also making a contribution to the brand’s progression to BMW iNEXT,” said Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development.

“This project is thoroughly driven by technology. We are using Formula E as a development laboratory, operating under the unique conditions that prevail in motor racing – with very unique demands and opportunities.

“The borders between production and motor racing development are more blurred at BMW i Motorsport than in any other project. The result is a technology transfer on a whole new level. We are certainly confident that the BMW Group will benefit greatly from the experience gained in the field of electrotechnology during this project.”

Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director, added, “The series represents a completely new challenge for us – a challenge we are happy to take on together with Andretti Formula E. Andretti is the ideal partner for this mission. The name needs no introduction in international motor racing. Our cooperation is already working very well, and we look forward to taking the next steps together.”

Michael Andretti said, “We are excited to expand our partnership with BMW i and serve as BMW’s official Formula E works team beginning in Season 5. The ongoing collaboration between BMW and Andretti Formula E has provided a strong foundation for BMW’s entry as an official manufacturer. We look forward to running BMW’s first all-electric racing drivetrain and competing for the Formula E Championship. BMW is leading the automotive future with the BMW i line and their innovation in electric car technology. I couldn’t pick a more prestigious or historic manufacturer to work with in Formula E.”

The Qualcomm New York City ePrix runs this weekend, where the pair of MS Amlin Andretti entries driven by Robin Frijns and Antonio Felix da Costa look to get back in the points after a tough weekend in Berlin.

Andretti Autosport’s four-car IndyCar team runs the Honda Indy Toronto (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, CNBC) this weekend.

F1 2017 driver review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Haas
Car No.: 8
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Austria)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 28
Championship Position: 13th

After leading Haas’ charge through its debut Formula 1 season in 2016, Romain Grosjean once again stepped up as team leader for the American team through its sophomore campaign despite scoring one point fewer.

Haas did not expect any major step in performance heading into 2017, having dealt with building all-new cars for two different sets of regulations, but the team was able to match its season one points total by the halfway mark this time around.

The big boost was the addition of a second points scoring driver – Kevin Magnussen – to partner Grosjean. Grosjean looked increasingly comfortable at Haas even if the car often presented problems, particularly under braking.

Radio rants were frequent, with Grosjean unable to drive around the issues as Magnussen did. But he was nevertheless able to finish the year as Haas’ top scorer, with his highlight moment being a perfect run to sixth in Austria.

Greater consistency was evident from both Grosjean and Haas through 2017, yet there were still swings in form that need to be ironed out in the future. The team was unable to capitalize on Renault and Toro Rosso’s late season difficulties that could have seen it jump to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Grosjean once again proved himself to be a very competent and talented racer through 2017, but needs a little more panache – perhaps down to the car more than anything – if he is to put himself in the frame for a top-line drive in the future.

Haas continues to offer a good platform, though, and its third season should be its best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations. It will be a real chance for Grosjean to show what he can do.

Season High: A perfect run to sixth in Austria, leading the midfield cars.

Season Low: Crashing early with Ocon in Brazil, hurting Haas’ constructors’ hopes.