BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt says the manufacturer’s Formula E team has a better handle on its position as early championship leader after winning the Diriyah season-opener for the second year in a row.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport led the drivers’ standings this time last year after Antonio Felix da Costa gave the team a win on its debut in the 2018-19 Diriyah E-Prix.
However, this was to be the only time that a BMW driver would reach the top step of the podium until Alexander Sims claimed his first career victory at the same track last month to put himself on top of the points table.
While the Brit is in a near-identical position to that of his then-teammate da Costa, Marquardt believes the BMW Andretti team is better positioned to consolidate this position.
Da Costa’s promising start to the previous campaign was thwarted by an inconsistent remainder of the season that included a clash with Sims in the next race at Marrakesh.
“The team has learned and matured [since this time last year],” Marquardt told e-racing365.
“We, all together, have brought things together better. The challenge is going to be to convert this good start into a good season.
“But I think with one season already under our belt, we have a better grip on that compared to last year.”
Marquardt suggested that a limited amount of turnover within the team between the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons has helped BMW to approach the new campaign with more confidence.
“We’ve done some modifications [but] not really a lot,” he said.
“For example, Valentino Conti, who leads our organization from BMW’s side, was the race engineer on Alexander’s side last year. He knows the team really well and knows the setup.
“And Loic [Descamps] was on performance; he’s now [Sims’] race engineer. We have moved a few people around, but we have moved a lot of them from within the team’s setup.
“I’m pretty positive, but it’s early days.”
Marquardt added that the extra season of experience, despite not heralding any championship silverware, should give BMW at least an early edge over its German rivals Porsche and Mercedes that are new to the grid.
“I think, in Formula E, the experience is worth a lot,” he suggested.
“Look at the champions over the last few years. Look how many rookies have been successful. That is not only for drivers, but it is also for teams.
“It’s a very special environment. There are always situations where there’s a first.
“Last season was the first for our team in full-blown setup, but we have worked with Andretti for one and a half years before and that has also helped us.
“We are definitely in a better position this time this year than we were last year.”
Sims Can “Definitely” Be Team Leader
Sims’ victory in Saudi Arabia has led to Marquardt suggesting that the former BMW sports car driver can be the team leader of its Formula E operation this season.
“For sure, [Sims] is with the team for his second season and has been with us for quite some time,” said the BMW motorsport boss.
“He definitely sees that he can be and is successful in the series, so by all means he can definitely be the leader of the team on the track.
“I think Maximilian is definitely the guy next to him, his wingman, who will give him fire over the course of the season.
“I think that with the two of them, we have a very strong combination in place there.”
When asked how BMW will approach the second round of the 2019-20 season in Santiago, Marquardt offered a curt response:
“Make sure that your two guys, if they are in the leading positions, don’t crash into each other! That would be Plan A…”