The first ever MINI Safety Car, the MINI Electric Pacesetter

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The MINI Electric Pacesetter, inspired by John Cooper Works, is the new Safety Car for the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship race series. It combines MINI’s electrified future with the rich racing history of John Cooper Works. The car follows the creation of the MINI Electric, as part of an unparalleled collaboration between MINI Design, BMW Motorsport, the FIA and Formula E.

The exterior of the MINI Electric Pacesetter has been purpose-built for life on the track and maximises dynamism. At the front of the car, classic MINI icons, such as the circular headlights and hexagonal radiator grille, create the familiar MINI face. Simultaneously, signature John Cooper Works elements, such as wheel arches adapted to the car’s track width and the deep front apron with additional front splitters to the left and right, give the front end a classic, sporty visual.

In addition, the Electric logo signifies the electric “heart” of the Safety Car. The front end is largely enclosed to aid aerodynamics, whilst the white flashing lights are integrated harmoniously into the bonnet. Iconic MINI bonnet stripes extend over the roof to the rear end.

“The design is an exciting symbiosis of technical precision and emotion,” explains Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design. “Here, function dictates form, and many design elements have been shaped by technical considerations. For example, we worked closely with our colleagues at BMW Motorsport to develop the form of the wheel arches and front and rear aprons, and the optimisation programme for them included weight-saving measures. This visually striking, technically precise design language gives the car its pervasive sense of emotional engagement and excitement.”


The MINI Electric Pacesetter also cuts an extremely dynamic figure from the side. The geometrically accentuated spats and sporty side skirts give the appearance of the car powering forward before it even turns a wheel. Along with the increased-diameter wheels, which almost fill the wheel arches, these elements strengthen the longstanding MINI “stance on the wheels”. Both the spats and spoilers are 3D-printed from recycled carbon fibre in Oxford.

The respective colour worlds of the MINI Electric and John Cooper Works brand merge into a single statement here. The main body colour is a matte silver, with a high-gloss wrap of a two-stage colour gradient – from Highspeed Orange to Curbside Red metallic – and on the flanks is a chequered flag-inspired pattern. The Safety Car also displays regulations-specific and sponsor-related graphics, which add further visual intensity to the car’s racing character.

The rear end in black and Curbside Red metallic uses yellow accent surfaces to make a modern, dynamic statement. The flared wheel arches accentuate the car’s wide track and transition seamlessly into the pronounced rear apron. The rear apron has cut-outs around the wheels, clearing the view to the higher-grip racing tyres.

“We have already shown how well driving fun and electric mobility go together with the MINI Electric,” says Bernd Körber, Head of MINI. “However, the MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW goes at least a step further and blends the performance character of the John Cooper Works brand with electric mobility.

This extreme version of the MINI Electric has been developed as the Safety Car in the Formula E, so is clearly not intended for use on public roads. But it does reveal one of the directions we could take with the electrification of the JCW brand. For me, the message is clear: electrification and John Cooper Works are a good fit.”

The interior is stripped back to the absolute essentials to decrease the car’s weight; only the front seats remain. The driver’s area consists of a certified seat with six-point belt, a steering wheel with a carbon fibre impact absorber and a digital instrument cluster. The centre console houses the gearstick lever, handbrake and controls for the necessary signal lights – all too in exposed carbon fibre.

The carbon-fibre door panels with window and door openers contain cloth straps to make closing the doors easier. The remainder of the minimalist interior structure is also painted in typical racing white (for functional reasons).

The steering wheel’s impact absorber, the boost panel on the right-hand side of the wheel and the door panelling on the driver’s side are high-quality, custom-made components. The removable pads on the sport seats are also 3D-printed, with comfort and robustness in mind as a priority. The thickness, hardness and colour of the pads can be adapted as required according to the appearance, weight and personal taste of the driver at hand.

Behind the visually powerful design of the MINI Electric Pacesetter lies the expertise of BMW Motorsport. Rigorous adherence to lightweight design principles gives the Safety Car a kerb weight of approximately 1,230 kg, which makes it around 130 kg lighter than the standard MINI Electric.

The drive system enables the MINI Electric Pacesetter to sprint from 0-62 mph in 6.7 seconds and from 0-37 mph in 3.6 seconds.

The MINI Electric Pacesetter debuts in Rome on 10 April 2021 at the second event (Race 3) of Formula E’s 2021 season.


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