Posted Aug 30th 2014 2:00PM
Racing series typically select a safety car appropriate to the kinds of racecars for which they'll be setting the pace. So you might find a Mercedes SLS pacing a Formula One grand prix, for example, and you're more likely to find a BMW M4 on duty at a DTM race and a Chevy Camaro or SS on an oval speedway for a NASCAR or Indy race. It would only stand to reason, then, that the FIA Formula E Championship kicking off next month in Beijing would press a plug-in into service as its safety car. But the organizers didn't go for your run-of-the-mill Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius.
No, the safety car for Formula E will be a BMW i8 specially modified for the occasion. As you can see from the video below, the hybrid sports car packs a full roll cage, racing buckets with harnesses, special communications systems and on-board fire extinguishers. But that's not all.
In partnership with technological partner Qualcomm, the Formula E support fleet – including two examples each of the i8 and i3 – will feature inductive charging. So while one is out on the track, or at least sitting at the end of the pit lane waiting to be deployed – the other will be charging wirelessly. The vehicles are still pending FIA approval, and only one has been outfitted with the Qualcomm Halo wireless charging system (with the others to be retrofitted later), but they were all on hand for the recent practice race at Donnington Park.
The Qualcomm Safety Car, as it will officially be known, will be driven by longtime WTCC safety car driver Bruno Correia of Portugal. Although no mention is made in the press release or the presentation video below, it's not hard to imagine that the Formula E series might seek to adopt this technology for the racers as well in the near future.