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BMW goes wild with i8 Roadster for Formula E

As the Formula E racers get more interesting, so the safety car follows suit...

By Matt Bird / Monday, May 13, 2019

The BMW i8 is never a car that's wanted much for visual drama, its concept car looks having drawn lots of attention since its 2013 launch. They still do, in fact, particularly as a Roadster. But that's not enough for BMW, which has now taken the i8 Roadster one step further with this, the i8 Roadster Safety Car.

Really that sells the car short, as it's more an i8 Speedster than a mere Roadster, the windscreen chopped, the spoiler enormous and the roll cage prominent with the roof gone - BMW says this is the first open top safety car in history.

Thanks to the i8's carbon construction, its maker reckons that the "no major modifications were necessary" in creating this car, the most work having gone into hacking down that windscreen. Interestingly the centre of gravity for this Safety Car is 15mm lower than the road car, and it's fitted with ceramic brakes, and that front splitter contributes to additional downforce - thinking what we're thinking?

Yes, all the signs are there for a more track-focussed and exciting i8 road car, albeit in quite an extreme case with that windscreen. Of course that's not being entertained just yet, BMW happy just to boast of how "i engineers, designers and communications crew have dared to explore new horizons and create an absolutely unique car." But if M Division does need to broaden its scope into an electrified future, where better to start than with the mid-engined, carbon tubbed, £100k sports car that's already built on hybrid architecture?

For now, the i8 Roadster Safety Car will only be seen at Formula E races in its jazzy new livery, which began at Monaco over the weekend. There remains space for a passenger hot laps, too. Is this i8 something you'd want to experience from the passenger seat? Or the driver's seat perhaps, this arguably as interesting as the i8 has yet looked. Seems a lot of work for a one-off car, after all...

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