Formula E

eChampion: Safety Car driver Bruno Correia

As the driver of the official Safety Car, Bruno Correia has one of the most crucial jobs in Formula E. In the latest of our eChampion's series, Bruno tells us more about his role and the innovative e-mobility technologies he is trialing with the Safety Car.

Bruno Correia is the official Safety Car driver for the most innovative racing series in the world.  Before the start of each race weekend, the Portuguese driver puts in several laps of the circuit to familiarize himself with the configuration: "I am a racing driver myself, so I'm able to get a good overall impression and to appreciate the special characteristics of the track."

Bruno has been part of Formula E since its inception, having a special responsibility for safety during races. "I'll never forget the day I led out the shakedown for the very first race in Beijing and all the drivers lined up behind me," he recalls. "So you might say that I put in the first lead lap in the history of Formula E in my BMW i8! That was the beginning of a great story."

So you might say that I put in the first lead lap in the history of Formula E.

Bruno Correia

Since making its debut in China in 2014, the Formula E series has undergone a continuous development process. This also applies to Bruno's working vehicle, the BMW i8 hybrid sports car, and one of his jobs is to test these developments directly on track.

The official Formula E Safety Car is now recharged by the Qualcomm Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging system. When Bruno parks his modified BMW i8 on top of a special base plate, a resonant magnetic inductive power transfer is generated. The car is thus automatically charged - without any need for cables. In readiness for the second season of Formula E, the performance of this innovative and exciting system was improved even further.

"It's simply fantastic and definitely the cleanest way to recharge the car," says Bruno. "The wireless system on our BMW i8 works perfectly. We use it at every opportunity on race weekends. This allows me to deploy only the electric motor of the car in certain circumstances, for example on the inspection laps or in the pit lane. In this way, I'm making a direct contribution to a better environment."

The hybrid sports car is a perfect fit for the formula E concept: "I try to use the electric motor as much as possible. By doing so, I'm upholding the ethos of the series. Whenever I have to produce a burst of speed to bring the field together during a Safety Car period, I obviously use the power of both motors." The futuristic BMW i8 with its 362hp accelerates from 0 to 60mph in just 4.4 seconds.

"It's a great car which is tremendous fun to drive," says Bruno. Which is fortunate, because he spends a lot of time in the cockpit of his BMW i8 over the course of a race weekend. "On race Saturday, I get up at 4.30am in the morning and by 6am I'm at the track carrying out all the major system checks on the car. In the evenings, we are usually the last ones out. It makes for a very busy day."

I very much hope that such great technologies will be making their way into the home and also into public transport.

Bruno Correia

In this strenuous job, any labor-saving device is welcome and Bruno certainly appreciates the ease of the wireless car charging: "I very much hope that such great technologies will be making their way into the home and also into public transport."

A major barrier to the expansion of electric powered cars is range, but with such technology now emerging, what's to stop cars from being charged wirelessly while driving? What if the solution to the range problem doesn't lie in the battery technology itself but in an independent technology that could be integrated into infrastructure, enabling the vehicle to charge while driving? Formula E shows what is already possible. The all-electric racing series isn't a glimpse into the future. It is the future.

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