Formula E: MINI Pacesetter is ready to change your mind about electric cars

By Pritesh Ruthun Time of article published Apr 7, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG/ROME - The MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW is the new Safety Car for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race series. As such, it connects the brand’s electrified future with the rich racing history of John Cooper Works. The car was created out of the new MINI Cooper SE as part of an unprecedented collaboration between MINI Design, BMW Motorsport, the FIA and the Formula E.

Let’s take a closer look at three things that make it special:

1) RACY EXTERIOR TREATMENT

The exterior of the new MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW has been purpose-built for life on the track and represents the most dynamic interpretation yet of a MINI with all-electric power.

“The design is an exciting symbiosis of technical precision and emotion,” explains Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design. “Here, function dictates form, and many design elements have been shaped by technical considerations. For example, we worked closely with our colleagues at BMW Motorsport to develop the form of the wheel arches and front and rear aprons, and the optimisation programme for them included weight-saving measures. This visually striking, technically precise design language gives the car its pervasive sense of emotional engagement and excitement.”

At the front of the car, classical MINI icons such as the circular headlights and hexagonal radiator grille create the familiar, easily recognisable MINI face.

At the same time, signature John Cooper Works elements, such as wheel arches adapted to the car’s track width and the deep front apron with additional front splitters to the left and right, enhance the sporting visuals of the front end. The blanked off “radiator grille” and MINI Electric logo point to the electric “heart” of the Safety Car.

As virtually no drive system cooling is required through the upper area of the grille, the front end is largely enclosed to aid aerodynamics. The only exceptions are the area below the grille and the squared-off apertures for brake cooling. The Safety Car’s white flashing lights are integrated into the bonnet. Characteristic MINI bonnet stripes extend over the roof to the rear end.

2) LOW-MASS 3D PRINTED INTERIOR

The interior is stripped back to the absolute essentials; only the front seats remain. The driver’s area consists of an FIA-certified seat with six-point belt approved for both racing and road use, a steering wheel with minimalist-design carbon fibre impact absorber and a digital instrument cluster.

The central information display makes way for a carbon fibre cover to further reduce weight.

The centre console houses the gearshift lever, handbrake and controls for the necessary signal lights – all in exposed carbon fibre. The likewise pared-back carbon-fibre door panels with window and door openers contain cloth straps to make closing the doors easier.

Another central feature of the interior is the welded-in roll cage, which maximises safety. And the remainder of the stripped-out interior structure is also painted in typical racing white (for functional reasons).

The aforementioned steering wheel’s minimalist impact absorber and the boost panel on the right-hand side of the wheel are high-quality, custom-made components, likewise the centre console cowling and door panelling on the driver’s side.

Another highlight are the removable pads on the sport seat, which are likewise 3D-printed and whose innovative structure combines comfort, robustness and modularity. The thickness, hardness and colour of the pads can be adapted as required according to the weight and personal taste of the driver.

3) RACE-READY ELECTRIC SYSTEM

Behind the visually powerful design of the MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW lies the expertise of BMW Motorsport. Rigorous adherence to lightweight design principles gives the Safety Car a kerb weight of approximately 1230kg – which makes it around 130kg lighter than the standard MINI Cooper SE.

The drive system – also based on that found in the MINI Cooper SE – produces 135kW and 280Nm, which enables the MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds (standard model: 7.3 s) and from 0-60 km/h in 3.6 seconds (standard model: 3.9 s).

Even more important for a Safety Car, though, are the mid-range figures. Here, the MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW showcases all the talents of its torque-rich electric drive system with single-speed transmission, enabling a 80-120 km/h time of 4.3 seconds (standard model: 4.6 s).

The drive system teams up with racing coilover suspension (three-way adjustable for rebound, compression, height and camber) to deliver that maximum go-kart feeling. Race-spec suspension control arm mountings, a 10mm increase in track width, plus the four-piston brakes and wheels from the MINI John Cooper Works GP with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres (245/40 R18) round off the overall package. These are the same tyres fitted to the front wheels of Formula E racing cars.

“Agility, performance, a cool looking car: the MINI Electric Pacesetter Safety Car for the FIA Formula E World Championship has got it all,” says official Safety Car driver Bruno Correia. “It’s very fun to drive, it feels like karting.”

The MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW will see action for the first time in Rome on 10 April 2021 at the second event (Race 3) of Formula E’s 2021 season.

IOL MOTORING

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