Munich. Team owner Michael Andretti was one of the first to join what was the completely new Formula E in Season 1. Four seasons later, Andretti Autosport is joining forces with BMW i Motorsport and will contest the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in the BMW iFE.18 as BMW i Andretti Motorsport. In an interview ahead of the season start on 15th December in Ad Diriyah (KSA), Andretti talks about the collaboration with BMW and the evolution of Formula E over the past four years.
Michael, how much are you looking forward to your first Formula E season with the BMW i Andretti Motorsport team?
Michael Andretti: “We are very excited to start the first season of our full factory partnership with BMW. Andretti and BMW have spent the past two seasons learning and working together, all building to BMW i Andretti Motorsport hitting the track in Season 5. I can’t wait to see the BMW iFE.18 on track this season.”
How do you experience the close relationship with BMW?
Andretti: “It has been great working with BMW. Getting to share knowledge and experience with one of the world’s most respected car manufacturers – you can’t put a value on that. We are thrilled to be a part of BMW’s return to open wheel racing, which is very special. We no longer view it as BMW and Andretti, but instead it’s one team – BMW i Andretti Motorsport. One team that will compete in Formula E together, and will hopefully be successful together as well.”
What will be the biggest changes for your team compared to the past seasons?
Andretti: “I think the most obvious change is having the backing of a major manufacturer in BMW. In the past – we developed and built our own powertrain that had to compete with the manufacturer powertrains from Audi, Renault, Mahindra, etc. While our cars were always competitive, being a privateer is always an uphill battle. Now, with the brand-new BMW iFE.18, we expect to be more competitive. We were happy with test in Valencia in October and we hope for good results during the season.”
Did you expect Formula E to become that big when you entered in Season 1?
Andretti: “We were one of the first teams to sign on with Alejandro Agag’s ground-breaking idea to create an all-electric racing series. Formula E was so different to anything we had ever done in motorsport, but we recognized that it was something we couldn’t pass up. Formula E has created one of the most unique, fan-friendly and technologically advanced sports available right now. I’m so excited about how far it has come and can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.”
Your team is involved in a lot of different racing series. Is the future of racing electric in your opinion?
Andretti: “One of the strengths of Andretti Autosport is our diverse racing platform – with top-tier teams in IndyCar, Indy Lights, Rallycross and even Supercars in Australia. I never had any doubts that Formula E would become the future of motorsport and when you look at the manufacturers, drivers and partners that are involved going into Season 5 – it’s one of the biggest things in racing right now. We consider ourselves to be one of the world’s top-tier racing teams, and we can’t claim that if we aren’t one of the teams pushing the envelope and being a part of Formula E.”
What do you like most about the BMW iFE.18 race car?
Andretti: “The first thing you notice about the BMW iFE.18 is the design. It’s a beautiful car, one of the best-looking cars in the Formula E paddock. However, the most important thing is its performance. We saw at Valencia that BMW i has built a reliable and efficient electric drivetrain. Now it’s on us to transfer this strong base into good racing results.”
How do you think the championship will improve technical wise in Season 5 with the Gen2 car?
Andretti: “I think that the Gen2 car offers nothing but improvement across the board. The switch from two cars in a race to just one is very important. It shows the fans, and the world, the incredible improvements in battery and electric vehicle technology in just four years. We are able to put a car on track that is not only faster but also more efficient and can race for twice as long. That’s a monumental improvement.”
What are your general expectations for Season 5?
Andretti: “The Andretti name is synonymous with success and it’s time we show that in Formula E.”
…and regarding the season opener in Ad Diriyah?
Andretti: “I think that everyone is ready to see how the new cars react and perform in a race. We looked good at the test in Valencia, but we need to see how that translates on the racetrack.”