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Mini Electric Pacesetter 2021: Formula E’s new cyberpunk pace car

John Law

The new pace car for the Formula E world championship has been revealed, and it’s a wild-looking Mini electric hatch.

Mini has today revealed a rather radical concept car – the 2021 Mini Electric Pacesetter – which will serve as the official pace car for the FIA Formula E World Championship.

The car is based on the Mini Electric hatch but has received a treatment similar to the wild Mini John Cooper Works GP edition that launched last year.

Mini Electric Pacesetter 2021-1
It may be electric, but that doesn’t mean this Mini isn’t cool.

Without the need to meet roadgoing design laws, Mini was able to push the JCW GP’s already exuberant aesthetic further for the one-off pace car.

Although the face is distinctly Mini with those round headlights, the rest of the Pacesetter is what you might call ‘out there‘. 

There are more aggressive front splitter extensions at the front and a rear wing with integrated safety lights that verges on the ridiculous. 

Mini Electric Pacesetter 2021-6
A rear wing that has three function – downforce, integrated safety lights and impromptu coffee table.

Mini partnered with BMW’s M division to create a set of wheel arch extensions to cover the 10mm wider track. The spats themselves are 3D printed at Mini’s Oxford plant out of recycled carbon fibre.

Tying the livery together are a set of 18-inch forged alloy wheels finished in lurid neon orange. The wheels are shod in 18-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, the same tyre used by the Formula E cars behind the Mini on track.

Global head of Mini Bernd Körber was quick to remind us that the Pacesetter is the “safety car for Formula E” and is “clearly not intended for use on public roads“.

Mini Electric Pacesetter 2021-5
Lurid neon orange 18-inch alloy wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.

However, Körber indicated that this exercise had been valuable “it does reveal one of the directions we could take with the electrification of the JCW brand“.

Currently, the JCW treatment is available on every Mini product, including the hatch, Clubman and even Countryman small SUV.

While the exterior is all wings, aggression and colourful liveries, underneath the Pacesetter retains the powertrain of the standard Mini Electric hatch.

Mini Electric Pacesetter 2021-4
Underneath though, the Mini Electric Pacesetter is unchanged from the regular electric.

That means 135kW of power and 280Nm of torque are sent to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission.

To do the most possible with such humble outputs, Mini has worked on shedding weight wherever possible, culminating in the removal of the interior – like a Renault Megane Trophy R

Inside the cabin, there is a roll cage for safety, while an exquisite set of lightweight bucket seats are trimmed in spiffing orange fabric to match the Alcantara racing steering wheel.

Mini Electric Pacesetter 2021-7
A roll-cage, lightweight bucket seats and no touchscreen show the track intentions of the Pacesetter.

The 8.8-inch touchscreen has been removed to minimise distractions and replaced with a carbon fibre insert. 

The rigorous weight-saving sees weight down by 130 kilos compared to the roadgoing Mini Electric. The Electric Pacesetter hit the scales at 1,230kg, with Mini claiming a 0-100km/h sprint of 6.7 seconds, which is roughly on par with an R53 generation Mini Cooper S

Finally, Mini has equipped the Pacesetter with a set of fully adjustable coilovers to cope with extended track use the pace car will see.

Mini Electric Pacesetter 2021-1
While the Mini Electric Pacesetter won’t make production, it gives a hint to what might lie in the future for JCW.

The Mini Electric Pacesetter won’t be hitting showrooms any time soon, but it is an intriguing exercise in where Mini could take the JCW brand in the fast-approaching electric future.