Alexander Sims says he didn’t initially expect to get the call to drive for BMW i Andretti Motorsport in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.
The 30-year-old Englishman will make his debut in Season Five of the electric racing series, having been announced along with BMW team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa on Friday.
Sims had almost totally discounted his chances of racing in Formula E when he partnered Felix da Costa and Augusto Farfus at the 24 Hours of Le Mans three months ago, telling e-racing365 that he received a call to race the BMW iFE.18 only a few weeks after.
“I’d been reserve driver for the season just gone and I wasn’t a part of the Season Five development at that point,” he said.
“Not a huge amount of Season Five development had passed but I thought, fair enough, they’ve gone with Tom [Blomqvist] or Bruno [Spengler], who have been doing the testing.
“Tom’s got experience and in my mind, it would have made perfect sense to have gone with him. But for whatever reason, they didn’t.
“I think that’s to no detriment of Tom’s abilities or the performance he did. I just think that for whatever reason, they decided to go with me.”
BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt said that Sims, who last raced a single-seater car two years ago, was an obvious choice for the seat.
“Looking at Alexander’s history, he is a super quick single-seater racer,” Marquardt told e-racing365.
“Every car that we put him in, he has performed on the top level. It was a pretty straightforward thought for us.
“He has a very open mind. To be a Formula E driver, you have to be very open-minded, because you have to adapt very quickly and very differently.
“Driving a Formula E car is very different from driving a normal race car. Alex can switch really quickly.”
Sims said that previous drive time in Andretti’s Gen 1 cars helped to prepare him for the championship despite being a rookie.
“I think the bulk of the testing that I did before Season Three and Four got me in the Formula E mode, in that I know what it’s all about,” he said.
“These last two days [at Calafat] have just been about dialing into this car and the specifics.
“I also needed to re-learn some aspects of Formula E because you forget them after a year of not thinking about it, but at least it’s not like I’m jumping into it completely raw.”
GT Racing Future in the Balance
Sims’ move to the BMW Formula E team has raised questions about his status with the manufacturer in GT racing next year.
When asked about 2019, Marquardt told e-racing365 that “we have to concentrate with him fully” on the Formula E season which runs from December through next July.
Sims has expressed a desire to remain in GTs but suggested another year racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with BMW Team RLL might not be possible.
“I would guess that a full season of GTs is not going to happen, but there’s absolutely nothing confirmed at this stage,” he said.
“I’m hopeful of still being able to be part of some form of GT racing because I’ve really enjoyed it over the last five or six years.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to lose out and do none of it, so hopefully we can find a calendar that works and slots in with Formula E to continue some of that.”
Sims added that the continuation of his IMSA GTLM role, either full-time or in a Michelin North American Endurance Cup capacity, would depend on the confirmation of a yet-to-be-announced E-Prix that provisionally clashes with the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“I’m waiting to see if that happens or not,” he said. “If that happens, then IMSA’s out of the question.”
“In my mind, if I was able to do Daytona then I can do Sebring, I don’t know about Petit. To do the Endurance Cup in IMSA could be a possibility if Daytona came out.”
“To be honest, if you can’t do Daytona, you can’t do the others.”