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Formula E’s latest safety car is the new, lightweight BMW i8

Stripped-out, stiffened BMW hybrid spaceship will keep the e-racers in check next season

By now, you’ve seen the new Formula E racing cars, complete with their sensational bodywork, halo safety bars, and doubled battery capacity. And you’ve thought: “cor, blimey. I wonder what a cluster of those will look like crashing and knocking lumps out of each on a street circuit?”

When there is what TopGear.com likes to call a KERASH (Kinetic Electrical Racing Accident Send Help), this new BMW i8 will be called upon to act. It’s based on the recently restyled and re-engineered hybrid sports car, but it’s had a few choice one-off tweaks for keeping a field of super-EVs in check.

BMW has stiffened the i8’s suspension, fitted a carbonfibre rear hatch, plus a front splitter and rear wing to add downforce – and a light bar to ruin the aero. There’s a roll bar inside, joined by featherlight bucket seats from the special edition BMW M4 GTS. Stopping is handled, for the first time ever in a BMW iCar, by carbon-ceramic brakes. Useful if there’s what TopGear.com likes to call an OHCRAP (Overconfident Helmsmith’s Car Rams Alain Prost).

The biggest innovation is one you can’t see, but will keep the i8 in zero-emission safety action: wireless charging. No, not for the driver’s smartphone: for the i8’s batteries. BMW has gone to the trouble of fitting a ‘Qualcomm Halo Prototype Technology’, which means the batteries can be juiced just by parking directly on top of an inductive charging plate. 

So, not only will this i8 lead possibly the cleanest, greenest parade lap of any motorsport event, but it’ll also have a clear conscience when responding to what TopGear.com likes to call a WHUPSIEE (Wild High-Speed Upset Provides Sizeable Interface of Expensive Electric). 

Oh, and we quite fancy one of these lightweight BMWs… i8 GTS, anyone?

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