MINI Electric Pacesetter debuts as the new Formula E safety car – 130 kg lighter; aero kit; racing suspension

MINI Electric Pacesetter debuts as the new Formula E safety car – 130 kg lighter; aero kit; racing suspension

This is the new safety car for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race series, which was created as part of a collaboration between MINI Design, BMW Motorsport, the FIA and Formula E. It’s called the MINI Electric Pacesetter and will see action for the first time in Rome on April 10 at the third race of Formula E’s 2020-21 season.

Based on the regular MINI Cooper SE (or MINI Electric as it’s known in certain markets), the track-only special features plenty of modifications inspired by John Cooper Works brand. While the front end retains the familiar circular headlights and hexagonal grille of the road-going model, the wheel arches have been widened and the deeper front apron receives additional front splitters.

Squared-off apertures have also been added on below said grille for brake cooling, while a good portion of the face is blanked off to aid in aerodynamics. As is typical of MINI, bonnet stripes stretch from the front over the roof and to the rear end.

Along the sides, carefully placed aero edges and sporty side skirts add to the extremely dynamic figure. These items, along with the sizeable spoiler at the rear, are 3D printed from recycled carbon-fibre and receive a visual flourish thanks to yellow accents. Those 18-inch forged wheels are lifted from the MINI JCW GP, but are treated to a bi-colour black-neon/orange design.

MINI Electric Pacesetter debuts as the new Formula E safety car – 130 kg lighter; aero kit; racing suspension

Another unmistakable visual highlight is the matte silver body colour that is paired with a high-gloss wrap, the latter promoting a two-stage colour gradient from Highspeed Orange to Curbside Red. A chequered flag-inspired pattern also showcases a large MINI Electric logo, while regulation-specific and sponsor-related graphics take up key positions.

At the rear, cutouts around the wheels provide a clear view of the Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, while a prominent diffuser takes its place in the middle. The accents in Energetic Yellow and lack of exhaust tailpipes identify this as a car powered by an electric drive system.

Moving inside, the stripped-out interior only retains the essentials like the front seats, which come with six-point safety harnesses. For the driver, there’s a digital instrument cluster and carbon-fibre steering wheel, but the centre display has been replaced with a carbon-fibre cover to save weight.

Meanwhile, the centre console houses the gear selector, handbrake and controls for the necessary signal lights, all in exposed carbon-fibre, as are the door cards with cloth straps for ingress and egress. Elsewhere, there’s a welded-in roll cage for safety and the interior space is painted white for functional reasons.

This lightweight diet results in the Formula E safety car having a kerb weight of approximately 1,230 kg, or about 130 kg less than a regular MINI Cooper SE. The drive system is carried over unchanged, so there’s 184 PS (181 hp or 135 kW) and 280 Nm of torque available.

However, due to the reduced weight, the Pacesetter takes just 6.7 seconds to get from zero to 100 km/h, which is 0.6 seconds less than the donor car. More important are the mid-range figures, with a 80-120 km/h time of 4.3 seconds instead of 4.6 seconds.

For track purposes, there are four-piston brake calipers and three-way adjustable racing coilover suspension, the latter complementing the 10 mm wider track, race-spec suspension control arm mountings and 245/40R18 tyres – the same ones used on the front wheels of Formula E racing cars.

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.


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