Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has said that the sport should consider a dramatic move to all-electric cars in the future.
It’s a typically explosive comment from Ecclestone, in much the same style that he used to keep teams in line when he was in charge.
But this time it’s new owners Liberty Media that he’s aiming to keep on their toes. Ecclestone hasn’t exactly been on the best terms with them since they ousted him as CEO a year ago.
“Let’s speak to the manufacturers and start a new all-electric Formula 1,” he told The Guardian newspaper this weekend. “A Formula 1 for the future.
“We still own the name Formula 1, we still have contracts with promoters,” he continued. “Let’s make different types of cars!
“Can’t we do this?” he said. “The manufacturers provide the cars themselves but we aren’t going to pay them because they get massive worldwide publicity.”
The FIA already operates Formula E, the all-electric motorsports championship which races on city street circuits around the world. But Ecclestone feels that Formula 1 could do it better.
“It would be a super Formula E, if you like,” he explained. “You can make cars be like an F1 car and the only thing you would miss would be the noise.
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“I do not believe that people could not come up with something to make more or less the old F1 noise,” he insisted.
Another issue would be in developing batteries capable of powering cars at F1 speeds for a full Grand Prix distance. But Ecclestone believed that this too would soon be possible.
“They [Liberty] would need to have the balls to do it today. I think they will have to do it.”
Liberty is already facing opposition from existing teams about its plans to revamp engine regulations after 2020.
The proposals include a 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid with engines running at 3000 rpm to improve the sound. The current MGU-H heat energy recovery unit would be ditched in favour of a more powerful MGU-K kinetic system. There would be a standardised battery and electronic control unit.
But even this proposal – designed to curb costs – has been under fire, with Ferrari even threatening to quit the sport if it went ahead.
“If we change the sandbox to the point where it becomes an unrecognizable sandbox, I don’t want to play anymore,” Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has said.
What the top brass in Maranello would make about the prospect of an all-electric Formula 1 can only be imagined.
However, it’s not considered a serious plan for the future of F1 – at least, not right now. Despite holding the title of ‘chairman emeritus’, Ecclestone has admitted that he has little input into the way that the sport is run now.
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