Daniel Abt, Audi, Formula E testing, Valencia, 2018

Hamilton unlikely to race in Formula E: “They’re slower than Formula Ford”

Formula E

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Lewis Hamilton says he has no interest in switching to all-electric series Formula E.

The five-times Formula 1 world champion said the lower performance of Formula E’s cars was a major reason.

“I don’t think you are ever going to compare Formula One and Formula E,” he said. “Maybe in five, ten years maybe, but the technology that we have, it’s quite far advanced compared to what they would be having and they’re slower than Formula Ford at the moment so they’ve got a long way to catch the speed of a Formula One car. I don’t know if that’s their target.

“But I think it’s really impressive. I’ve been watching their cars on social media and they look pretty cool, so I wish them all the best and looking forward to seeing it progress.”

However Hamilton, whose Mercedes team will enter the championship next year, admitted he is “conflicted” about the effect conventional engines have on the environment.

“It’s a difficult one,” Hamilton said. “The gasses that we emit with our cars are not particularly helpful for the climate and for the world, so on one side that’s a concern for me.

“But on the other side, as a racing fan, I’m a petrolhead and I will always be a petrolhead. There will never be a time when I’m an ‘electric head’. I hope, at least, in my period of time, it’s always going to be a fuelled car with at least some sort of V-shaped engine, with some sort of sound.”

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Formula E has attracted a broader range of manufacturers than F1 has at present. “I think it’s great what Formula E are doing and it’s a great start, it’s great to see all the top brands – Audi, BMW, Mercedes – are all getting heavily invested.

“Because, particularly on the roads – just coming here, for example – you see the traffic every single day, there are thousands and thousands of cars on the road. There’s the same in every country you go to. So the sooner we can get rid of the majority of those cars and then turn them into hybrids, then I think that would be a massive difference.

“But there are a lot of other things we can do around the world with businesses to help with those emissions.”

Max Verstappen said he also expects to remain powered by an internal combustion engine for the rest of his career.

“I think the boss clearly said of Formula E already that they don’t want to compete or be seen competing against Formula One so I guess that says enough. It’s just a different category.

“It seems like it’s getting more interesting, of course, with all the big car manufacturers joining in but at the moment I’m happy where I am and I will probably be one of the last people in the world to try and buy the last barrels of oil.”

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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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16 comments on “Hamilton unlikely to race in Formula E: “They’re slower than Formula Ford””

  1. …and they’re slower than Formula Ford at the moment …

    Yes, slower at the moment. However, don’t be surprised if the speeds they use rival those of F1 in 10 years time. The big difficulty I see for Formula E is the range of a car while travelling at high speed, but that too improves every year.

    1. 10 years is not enough. The formula e is a single seater and formula ford is the slowest single seater series pretty much and at the moment they can’t even match that. Not over single lap nor over race distance. To get to f1 level in 10 years would be massive massive step ahead. The battery tech alone would need to improve to be hundred times better than it is.

      I did some calculations and posted them here some time ago but I can’t find them now. But still for formula e to get to f1 levels the battery tech is just one piece of the puzzle. They also need to spend a lot more money and open the rules a lot more to get even close. They’d need to add huge amounts of more downforce on the cars, put big slick tires on them… Only thing where formula e can rival f1 car in 10 years is the cheaper cost of the car.

      1. 1) The statement that formula E is slower that formula ford is simply not true. Two seasons ago in testing at Donnington Buemi did 1:28.910 while the fastest formula ford lap is 1:31.730

        2)The top speed for an FE car this year around 180pmh that is no slouch.

        3) I agree that the regulations should be opened up a little bit more, especially on battery development. However, this should never be opened up to chassis/ aero development. Development in these areas is already well trodden. Development costs should be focused on Motor/ Inverter/Component Cooling & in the future batteries.

        4) I also understand the reason why (even though I don’t 100% agree) with restricting development. New race series like A1gp & Superformula have gone under due to spiralling costs and is one of the reasons why the European F3 one of the few semi-open development feeder series is closing its doors this season. It makes business sense to slowly open the regulations for the longevity of the series.

  2. Hamilton has just earned himself another enemy in @hazelsouthwell :-)

    (I’m joking)

    1. @phylyp ha – he can race where he likes! Without question he’s the driver who’s best mastered the hybrid era of F1, I think he’d probably have more fun than he thinks he would in Formula E (unlike, say, Alonso who I think would genuinely hate it and struggle) but as he says it’s just a different series.

      We also can’t afford him, tbh. ;)

      1. We also can’t afford him, tbh

        Get him involved in some of the entertainment aspects of FE, I’m sure he’d be happy to take a driver’s pay cut in exchange :-)

  3. “They’re slower than Formula Ford”.
    Hamilton’s ruling out any potential return to McLaren then.

  4. Hum…Gen 1 lap record at Donington is around 1 second shy off the F3 record.

    Considering the 3 seconds pace improvement, Gen 2 on quali mode will be faster than a F3 car!

    Hamilton is a bit wrong about it!

  5. Hamilton’s comments seemed balanced to me. I’m a fan of electric cars, but it’s an evolving technology and at the moment the Formula E cars are a lot slower. It’s fair to say that. They’ll get faster each year and then there will be a crossing point where they are better than fossil fuel cars. In passenger cars this is much closer than any of the incumbent car manufacturers understand, but in race cars it’s a long way off. Petrol has a very high energy density. It’s pretty damn light.

    I always thought it was a shame that the electric part of the hybrid Formula 1 cars was so hidden. Everyone is so secretive about their powertrains that the amazing things they have done don’t get enough attention. For example think how many oil companies are mentioned. Have you ever heard the name of a battery cell supplier mentioned during a Formula 1 race though? It’s secret sauce.

  6. “The gasses that we emit with our cars are not particularly helpful for the climate and for the world, so on one side that’s a concern for me.” – says the man who flies back and forth all over the world, all the time, in his private jet…

    1. To be fair, probably like 1% of people know fuel consumption from jets can be measured in liters per second.

    2. Lmao Formula E is flying around the world on jets….

  7. I always thought FE and F1 would merge once electric technology is ready. And I certainly don’t think that will happen within Hamilton’s career, so no surprise at this comment from him.

  8. Formula E could be SO much quicker,if the promoters simply decided it to be.
    – Racing slicks vs all weather road tires. Only rain seen was in testing. And why so narrow?
    – Power restriction. Why? Could be done smarter.
    – Fake aero bits. Open up the aero regs and see what’s possible. Especially with a Robo race (cockpit) type proto “bodied” car. We have seen cars losing whole wings and lap times were flat. Now, come on!!
    – Spec battery. The new one is a step up but to be road relevant, open that tech up!
    – Swappable batteries would invite pit stops and higher power output. A half hour stint is way more than enough. We all want F1 back to 2-3 stops rather than the one, right?

    1. Pretty much all of those sound like great ways to inflate costs and ensure that FE goes the way of LMP1; only one dominant manufacturer left. And battery swaps are incredibly lengthy and if rushed, potentially unsafe, especially when you consider how massive these battery cells have to be; so unless you’re okay with hour long pitstops then it’s not gonna happen. Formulino E tried to start up a series with battery swaps and they never got off the ground because it was simply too expensive to do.

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