Ecclestone: electric F1 cars in pits ‘could kill someone’

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Ecclestone opposes plans to have F1 cars run on electric power in the pits.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Formula One electric avenue is not for Bernie Ecclestone (Daily Express)

“Formula One is absolutely not the right place to have electric engines. […] There’s no way that it will be electric in the pit lane. People could be killed because they won’t hear the cars coming.”

Lowdon: Fans will judge TV deal success (Autosport)

“[Sky] also said that’s good news for the fans, and I think, with the greatest respect, that is up to the fans to determine. We wouldn’t say whether is great for the fans. We have to wait for the fans to respond on that, and I’m sure they will in this day and age.”

Keep Formula 1 Free To Air in the UK (UK Government)

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Comment of the day

Another interesting theory on the lack of new manufacturers in F1 from Mahir C:

The biggest reason for manufacturers staying out of F1 is that they are shying away from racing all together.

From touring cars to rallying to endurance racing, the manufacturers are not racing anymore, especially in the top categories. Look at the state of Le Mans after 2000. The reasons are twofold I think.

One, they don’t believe in the ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday mantra anymore’.

And secondly, racing series have become a lot more boring over time. There are far too many restrictions, trying to keep the performance of car equal etc…

It is not in just F1, Le Mans also have same engine performance equalising clauses, even more blunt such as air-restrictors.

Now they only compete on GT racing (SLS, 911 category) which requires minimal expenditure and they do it very stealthy with no publicity. OK, the racing is close and very good, but where is the challenge when the race cars produce 120-150 bhp less than the road going version of the same car.
Mahir C

And I must give an honourable mention to Magnificent Geoffrey’s poem in honour of Katy’s birthday yesterday!

From the forum

A topical debate from Girts: How does being an F1 fanatic affect your personal budget?

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On this day in F1

Stirling Moss scored his final F1 win at on the Nurburgring Nordschleife 50 years ago today.

Moss persuaded Dunlop to let him use a set of development ‘green spot’ tyres for wet conditions on a track that was wet and dry in different places. He took his Rob Walker-run Lotus to victory after Jack Brabham went off early in the race.

Image © Red Bull/Getty images

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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81 comments on “Ecclestone: electric F1 cars in pits ‘could kill someone’”

  1. Wow, a quiet day in Formula 1!

    I realise F1 is often the fore-runner of road car technologies… but it’s a bit early to discuss electric engines on cars yet…

    2014 is a while away though, so there’s some time to perfect it, and hopefully it’ll be unreliable! I miss the lottery that was mechanical failure!

    1. If it’s anything like KERS reliability it will be a disaster.

  2. And for once, I agree with Bernie!

    1. Charging bull
      6th August 2011, 1:36

      bernie by 2014 we will all have gone bankrupt to afford coverage :-p

    2. sliding virgins and firey renaults (last race), bouncing wheels (recent history), of course.. are much safer.. come on!

      People could be killed because they won’t hear the cars coming.

      And yet, fork lift trucks are electric, and they have sirens fitted when it’s an issue. Talk about a million pound problem being fixed with a £10 solution. The sound issue is much easier to get around than the open cockpit issue currently being looked in to.

      1. *Rubs eyes*


      2. Fully agree with that Hare!

        Its a perfect place where F1 can have a go at finding the most practical and easy solution for a real life complication that might arise with electrical cars in cities.

        PS. Nice to see you here again Hare!

      3. But electric power in the pits wont stop the Renaults from catching fire, or the virgins to spin or the tyres to pop off. It will just add another risk to that list. Just because there are other risks we shouldn’t just stop considering whether we are adding new risks or not.

        1. Is it really a risk? Are people stumbling around in the middle of the pitlane oblivious to what’s around them?

          Also, even at the moment, do you really think the noise of a car going at 100kph (or 60kph in practice) on the limiter can be heard clearly over cars going at 300kph down the straight?

        2. You have electric power in the pits already. Whats new?

  3. Perfect timing for Bernie to say such stupidity, considering D’Ambrosio nearly ran over the whole team of mechanics last sunday.

    And lets not forget about Hungary 2010, when Rosberg’s wheel came loose, bounced down the pitlane and fell close to the Williams mechanics at the same time that Kubica and Stuil crashed also in the pitlane.

    The pits will always be dangerous. Electric cars or not.

    1. Yes but the spin probably would have happened regardless of the way it was driven, and the the same with wheels flying off, so I don’t see your point. Ecclestone was making the point that silent cars could add to the danger.

      1. Ever thought they might attach some kind of sounder to the actuation button for the electric motor, then as they switch from engine to electric the sounder kicks in, could be a bell, klaxon, anything, more likely a piezo like an ambulance, come on it’s not rocket science is it.

        1. in some pit lanes they have an alarm that goes off when a car enters the pit lane, i agree i think that theres no reason not too

          1. Bernie talks, to generate problems, it’s how you keep the buzz going..

        2. … What is the point of having efficient electric motors only to pump the energy into making noises.

          I don’t mind F1 being green, but they should at least do it for the right reasons.

          1. a bit of noise is not all that much energy, really!

          2. Yes, and on the roads we’ll miss a great opportunity to cut traffic noise, because someone’s worried that quieter cars will lead to thousands of lawsuits (and, less importantly, injuries).

            I’m gonna start a business selling ringtones for cars.

          3. @Mike I’d hate to see your iPod, you must run it fresh crude oil to warrant sound being a significant energy cost compared to propelling an F1 car.

        3. Exactly. It’s a trivial problem that can be easily rectified — this sounds like the anti-car tirade of early-20th-century luddites who insist that a runner precedes a car to warn pedestrians!

    2. I don’t see your point either??? Surely though, everything going on in f1 involves reducing the risk of what potentially could happen. This electric pit lane rubbish adds more risk to what potentially could happen.

      We all know that all these incidents you mentioned are always possible but why flirt with an idea that could have castastrophic consequences?

    3. I don’t know… an extra danger can certainly be avoided, but considering reliability I don’t know how many probabilities it will have to happen.

  4. I suggest people take a look before crossing the road. Thats how I do it. On the other hand even at the moment sometimes its pretty close. Suppose nothing will change there.

    About the comment of the day .. looking bad for a year damages an image more than 5 good years improve it. Therefore manufacturers (as much as they would like to shine and feel awesome) enforce regulations that are as tight as possible in order to ensure that worst case they are a few percent worse than their competitors or make weird rules to make sure racing is artificially close. Thats how it works with so much at stake. Its not a sport for enthusiasts anymore.

    1. MVEilenstein
      6th August 2011, 0:24

      By that reasoning, then, the less manufacturer involvement there is in F1, the better.

      1. That’s what he said, do you disagree?

        I think manufacturers definitely have a grand place in F1. But it always needs to be moderated by privateers.

  5. MVEilenstein
    6th August 2011, 0:20

    the race cars produce 120-150 bhp less than the road going version of the same car.

    This is one reason why ALMS GT racing doesn’t interest me. What’s “grand” about GT racing if they’re bogged down with restrictions?

  6. Put a siren on it, Bernie. NEXT

    1. agree, good point

    2. A nice big horn button in the middle of the steering wheel.

      1. just imagine, here comes the F1 start… everyone is excited, moment is building up 1 light, 2 lights 3 lights… and go go go.. , suddenly all you hear is.. whooooshhhh…, then.. beeep beeeep,… beeep beeep… honk honk…

        I don’t think anyone wants to see that. If you like that sort of thing then please go and watch the cycling …

        1. If you want to “watch loud noises” then maybe you should stand behind a jet at takeoff or something. That would be the ultimate.

        2. I agree.
          A siren would be safe, but it would be absolutely horrible to listen to. What we want to hear is the engines roar, not sirens going off every time people pits. Especially with the new tyres where the cars in total have to drive though the pits 75 in a single race. It would be horrible for the spectators at the S/F line if sirens had to go off all the time.
          What will the electric only in the pits give us anyway? More overtakes? No. Exciting racing? No. Green? Not really. It would save like 2kg of fuel or something per car, per weekend that is a total of 50kg of fuel per weekend when the 24 cars in total burn something like 3 tonnes of it during the race ALONE! Based on 1.7kg for 70 laps and 24 cars completing every single lap.
          Not to mention the spectators that burn hundred times that.
          Bottom line is, there is no point in doing so. And it only creates dangers.
          And what about if a car has a long pit stop, the engine temperature falls and when it reaches the end of the pit lane and wants to start it, the engine has cooled too much for it to start and then they have a car stuck at the end of the pit lane.
          Added with the reliability of the KERS these days, chances are, we will see a lot of cars not being able to pit because the KERS unit has failed on them.

        3. Mark Hitchcock
          8th August 2011, 1:00

          Honestly, that sounds hilarious and the sooner it’s implemented the better.
          Could even combine it with Bernie’s sprinkler idea and give all the drivers one of those flowers which squirt water.

          1. Mark Hitchcock
            8th August 2011, 1:01

            But I also enjoy watching cycling so what do I know?

  7. Bernie is senile

    1. Do you not remember BMW Sauber’s pre-season testing in 2009? They were trialling KERS and the system wasn’t grounded properly. One of the mechanics went to work on the car and received enough of an electric shock to land himself in hospital. And that was just with a basic KERS unit in place – the 2014 cars will store much more enegry in them.

      1. If Bernie would have brought that up as a point, it would be a bit tardy perhaps with most teams working with KERS already, but it would make some sense, as the teams do have to be careful. Maybe he did forget about that issue already.

        As it is, he was only talking about missing the noise, something he has been talking for a while, now with an extra supposed issue. Which can indeed be solved with a siren or something.

        1. It makes him sound like a really grumpy old man even more.
          Just cut it out Bernie, and move over.

          For me the interview was interesting to see because of how Bernie had a little dig at Mad Max and tells us its not Todt being bad. Wonder what tactics are going on there.

      2. What has that got to do with being run over.

  8. They are only going one way,
    look before you cross.

  9. I can see this Sky deal killing Virgin and HRT. Virgin will struggle for advertising considering they’ll be seen by the majority of the UK audience only 10 times a year, live at least, and HRT will give up altogether as they know a Pay-to-view model will kill any chance they have of bringing in meaningful revenue.

    1. You know there are many other countries to get sponsers from

    2. I think HRT might actually be one of the few that have only to gain. How much sponsorship do they get? Exactly, so if they get a bit more for the TV rights it will boost their budget.

      By the way, A big cheer for Virgins CEO Lowdon for being the first team insider with a more critical, or realistic approach to the SKY deal and PR talk:

      “But I think they also said that’s good news for the fans, and I think, with the greatest respect, that is up to the fans to determine. We wouldn’t say whether is great for the fans. We have to wait for the fans to respond on that, and I’m sure they will in this day and age.

      I certainly hope that the petition gets to Parliament and the fans do show a clear signal, as it might help all fans worldwide on a longer term to secure F1 being shown free-to-air in as many places as possible.

      1. Nothing to do with Sky being a direct competitor to Virgin in the Cable business in the UK.

        I can’t see how F1 ends up on SS1 or SS2 with the football season but if it goes to SS3 or SS4 then that keeps it away from BT Vision and Virgin customers.

  10. The only way electric cars will work in the pits is for Bernie to give the OK on where the “slot” will be placed.

  11. I agree, look before you cross, but electric cars are something completely new; there’s always going to be safety issues, and while I agree Bernie isn’t our safety guru, he has got a point: one stray renault mechanic going for a whizz…he might be done for. I nearly got run over by an electric car just last week. There is no substitute for sound.

  12. I have to disagree with the COTD, because Le Man is looking absolutely brilliant at the moment.

    Not only are Peugeot and VW under the Audi name continuing to perfect road relevant diesel powered performance cars, but both manufacturers seem willing to go a step further with their ‘eco performance’ and develop hybrid power in the future.

    VW are also committed to providing another factory team in LeMan for 2014, when they will introduce the Porsche brand back into top level endurance sports car racing. This is a huge deal for LeMan series, Porsche are the most successful LeMan entrants, their return would be like Ferrari retuning to F1 after a long sabbatical – great for fans of the series.

    In LeMan racing, there is also an Aston Martin factory team, it is not ad quick as the diesel two, but Aston will be much improve next year when they get to grips with their first ever self produced car, their 2010 car was built by Lola – an they underperformed in 2011 with a factory built car.

    Jaguar, another big name in motorsport, and who have had battles in Leman with Porsche in the past, have spoken out about looking into a possible LeMan return in the near future, published in autosport in July, and who is to say they won’t give it a go, they have the finances, thanks to parent company TaTa.

    And finally Toyota, entered in 2010 as an LMP1 engine supplier, the first steps on the way to a return to a factory team in cooperation with Dome?

    I think with the confirmed new 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, and the confirmed return of a huge manufacturer in the sport, that we are in for a golden age of LeMan series.

    Just hope Jag are in. ;)

    1. Agreed – WEC for me next year, hope a FTA channel picks it up so fans can watch live would be good and far cheaper to televise than F1. Without Ecclestone or Murdock in the mix will be fantastic.

    2. Yes, it’s looking good for a great era at Le Mans, let’s hope any pending economic crisis doesn’t ruin that!

  13. Sush Meerkat
    6th August 2011, 3:02

    Ecclestone also fears the smaller engine will lack F1’s distinctive high-pitched scream which attracts spectators.

    Am I the only person in the world that thinks “loud” does not equate to “sexy”, high loud whinny engines to me sound like high loud whinny engines.

    Posh Spice of the Spice Girls fame hit 135 decibels, it doesn’t make her voice beautiful, same goes for engines.

    Noise doesn’t mean beauty, noise in a symphonic way, now to be that’s beautiful.

    And no having an F1 engine burp the top gear theme tune isn’t beautiful either.

    1. And no having an F1 engine burp the top gear theme tune isn’t beautiful either.

      *sad face*

    2. And no having an F1 engine burp the top gear theme tune isn’t beautiful either.

      *sad face*

      But in general I agree. I hope the turbos might provide for a lower rumble. But if the Manufacturers posh F1 towards F1 it would be for naught.

    3. I agree Sush.

      I found it totally ignorant when the circuit directors complained about too little noise, when all tracks running racing in/close to cities or in countries with developed democracies are being heavily restricted mostly for making too much noise!

  14. ”Wow Bernie, why i am not surprised by your retarded quotes ?” or maybe he thinks that people in the pits are blind or are going to wait for some f1 car to ram them and kill them… seriously, who cares about this old-dinosaur fool? Formula 1 needs a younger ”boss” with cooler and new ideas that could make the sport better, and not just looking about making a show just to earn more and more money

    1. kind of allarm, clackson, siren or something= problem solved

      1. Yeah a claxon! Away with the angry hands from the cockpit: beep beep, go away, backmarker!

        1. I thought he said a CLARKSON. D’oh!

  15. Adrian Morse
    6th August 2011, 7:50

    I think Bernie just doesn’t like electric engines, and is keen to exploit any argument against them. But perhaps I am being to cynical.

    1. Not really, Bernie is though, I think.

  16. We just need a sound played from the car “Warning, Vehicle Approaching” or something. I can just imagine 12 of these going off at once in the pits when it starts to rain… perhaps they could harmonise?

    HRT in the key of E#.

    1. Or in the key of Tyre♭? ;D

  17. Electric cars in the pits dangerous? What about cars carrying hundreds of litres of explosive liquid with parts whose operating temperatures reach hundreds of degrees? The difference is that F1 has had a long time to develop systems to reduce the risk from fire etc, whereas having large electrical charges on the cars is a new thing, and F1 cars have never been able to run silently.

    That said, after the BMW incident in the early days, F1 teams have put measures in place to keep their mechanics safe and keep electrical charges contained. You’ll never completely eliminate the risk, but then neither can you completely eliminate the risk from petrol.

    As for the noise issue, as many have pointed out on here, it is very easily solved – you could even play a recording of a V8 engine out of the cars as they drive down the pit lane!

  18. How about this: When the speed limiter is switched on and the engine is switched off, a forward facing speaker on the nose-cone belts out the sound of a V12 super-car, at full chat, in a tunnel. Same technology could be used to bellow “Get out of my way you waster (or similar)”, in six different languages. How about laser guided missiles, armed only when a back-marker is about to be lapped for the second time.

  19. All Bernie needs to do is sit everyone down prior to the race and show them this…

  20. I simply do not believe a word Bernie Ecclestone says anymore. He says whatever he wants to suit whatever negotiating position he’s taking at the time, using everything from distortions of the truth to outright lies. This isn’t a comment on his effectiveness in running F1 over the past few decades, just that you can’t take anything he says at face value.

  21. Have sprinklers in the pitlane that turn on when someone is in the pits?

  22. So could hosting a race in Bahrain

  23. On pimp my ride they put a speaker under the car hooked up to a database of car sounds. This allowed the car to sound like lots of different supercars.

    Maybe they can give us a nice sound instead of the ear blistering whine of an F1 car.

    Usually the only nice sounding car driving around during a F1 weekend is the safety car.

  24. Shut up Bernie.

  25. surprised bernie does not put a electric meter on em and sell it back to the national grid

  26. Since when has Bernie been interested about safety, he was the one that suggested having artifical rain to liven it up a bit, imagine if that had taken place and someone had been injured in a crash caused by Bernie turning on the sprinkers… He is a hypocrit and always has been, he doesnt really care about safety, only his other agendas.

    PS i dont like the idea of electric engines in the pits anyway.

  27. It could kill someone Bernie, maybe someone slow, deaf and old taking a bit too long to cross the pitlane. No such luck for the fans eh, it’d be like the satellite, Astra, falling out the sky and hitting Rupert Murdoch’s house, killing him (slowly, fingers crossed). Can i write this? Oops too late!

    1. Bernie thinks people will be killed in the pitlane because F1’s gone electric? Can he not hear the rather loud pit lane siren at every race? If not, could he not simply get the tracks to install additional speakers by each pit box and garage to ensure everyone hears? It would be a relatively cheap solution to the problem that would also be useful for the occasional person who nearly gets run over by petrol cars in other formulae (Enrique Scalabroni, I’m looking at you).

      1. Another thought: he could even make the pit lane siren the sound of a nice meaty F1 petrol engine if he really wants that hit of nostalgia during a Grand Prix :)

        1. Yeah, fire up a BRM H16 whenever someone crosses the pit lane entry line…

          1. Amen to that.

  28. This counter-argument by Nigel Roebuck really got my attention:

    The silent threat in pitlane (Motor Sport)

    Good arguments in the comments too, about background noise.

    1. duh, that’s not a counter-argument is it. Well worth a read though!

  29. Youre completely correct on this piece…

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