BMW have announced a surprise split from MS Amlin Andretti for season five of Formula E, when they now plan to enter their own manufacturer team.
The German car giant had increased their role in the Andretti team this season, providing mechanical expertise and loaning them driver Antonio Felix da Costa.
Although they had been expected to increase their involvement in the sport in the coming years, it had been expected that they would continue in their current set-up.
However, they decided to switch to having their own BMW works team for the 2018-19 season ‘due to the long-term global motorsport strategy for the BMW Group’, they went on to state that given their push on electric innovation in their road cars, it seemed ‘only natural that BMW would duly field their own team’.
Speaking after the announcement BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said that planning for season five is already underway.
He commented, “Since its inaugural season, Formula E has enjoyed rapid development and is now regarded as a high-level racing series.
“BMW i has contributed actively as Official Vehicle Partner from the word go and has left its mark on the series. Other manufacturers have now followed suit.
“Everyone involved is delighted to be taking steps to get involved on the sporting and technological side of Formula E.
“Planning is underway to compete with a works team in season 5. This required our registration as a manufacturer. This was completed by the required deadline.”
BMW hinted that they will continue to collaborate with Andretti for season four of the championship, but after that their future relationship is uncertain.
Their affiliation got off to a positive start this season, with both Andretti cars finishing in the points in the opening race.
However results have gone downhill from there, with a basic error on minimum pit stop times costing the team last weekend in Mexico.
The split is likely to mean that da Costa will switch over to the new BMW team in 2018.
The announcement also means that spaces on the grid for the 2018-19 season are already become scarce.
Mercedes announced that they had taken up an option one of the available team slots, and are due to decide on whether to take it up closer to the time.
Ferrari have also spoken several times about their desire to be involved in the all-electric series, with President Serio Marchionne stating last week that ‘Ferrari needs to be in Formula E’.