BMW is working hard to immerse itself in Formula E and strengthen its ties with Andretti Formula E through Season Four ahead of its full factory takeover in 2018, according to motorsport director Jens Marquardt.
The German manufacturer has enjoyed ties to the Andretti operation through last season before ramping up its commitment for the new campaign that started in Hong Kong at the start of December, laying foundations for its factory takeover of the operation for Season Five.
While Andretti personnel remain focused on delivering results on-track through the current season, Marquardt confirmed that BMW’s attention is primarily on learning more about the championship and completing groundwork ahead of its factory entry.
“We are obviously immersing ourselves even deeper into Formula E this year, and will be more heavily involved in the MS&AD Andretti Formula E team,” Marquardt said.
“We have three employees working full-time with the team this season. We are also supporting wherever and however we can to extract the maximum out of the package, together with the drivers. It goes without saying that we are also using our resources back in Munich.
“At the same time, we at BMW Motorsport and BMW i are obviously also gathering information, which will help us to develop the powertrain for Season Five. That program is running parallel to this.”
Marquardt conceded that the Andretti team, led by CEO Michael Andretti, faces a tougher task through Season Four to balance its focus between the current campaign and the one to come, whereas BMW can shift its attention to the latter.
“It is really a challenge, and is probably more difficult for Michael and his team at the moment than it is for us at BMW,” Marquardt acknowledged.
“They have to be fully focussed on Season Four, the racing side of things, while at the same time setting up the tests for the new car, as soon as it is ready.
“Development of the powertrain is currently mostly done in Munich. However, from next year we will work even closer together on the test and development side.
“The goal is to have maximum performance and efficiency from the start of Season Five.”
The partnership between BMW and Andretti has been particularly significant for Marquardt, who has long admired the family’s achievements through motorsport across three generations.
“As a 10-year-old, I always used to race my brother to school on our bikes,” remembered Marquardt.
“He was always Jackie Stewart, I was Mario Andretti – because Michael’s father used to drive that beautiful black and gold John Player Special Lotus. I even won a few races to school as Mario Andretti.
“I came to America in the late 1990s, where I was involved with IndyCars, in which Michael was a hero. He won a lot of races, including many against the team I was working for.
“This family name – and Michael himself, with everything he has achieved: you don’t find that kind of thing very often in motorsport.”
Andretti also spoke warmly of the opportunity to work with such a prestigious marque as BMW, having previously operated as a privateer team without manufacturer backing in Formula E prior to the tie-up.
“I have always followed what BMW Motorsport have done, and they win in everything they do,” Andretti said.
“Our team already has a strong partner in Formula E, in MS&AD, with whom we work together superbly. The fact that we are also constantly stepping up our collaboration with BMW is a fantastic situation.
“At the moment we are working very hard together toward the powertrain for Season Five. At the same time, we are also working to be as successful as possible this season with the MS&AD Andretti cars.
“The roadmap is the same on both sides.”