Lucas di Grassi, Audi, Formula E testing, Valencia, 2018

Combustion engine racing will go the way of tobacco advertising, warns Di Grassi

Formula E

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Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi says electric racing is growing faster than expected and expects some countries will ban the promotion of motorsport which uses combustion engines.

Speaking to media including RaceFans ahead of the second round of the 2018-19 season in Morocco this weekend, Di Grassi predicted manufacturers will not enter Formula 1 if road car regulations push them towards developing electric models.

“If in the long-term future all manufacturers are only producing electric cars because they will be cheaper and [they’re] forced by the rules to produce electric cars, why would any manufacturer join Formula 1 if it’s still combustion? And then the question is will Formula 1 go electric in the long-term or not?”

Di Grassi doesn’t see a merger between Formula 1 and Formula E as inevitable. However he said F1 will have to respond to the rise of electrification.

“If they go electric do they merge with Formula E or do they stay separate, one racing in cities the other in tracks? This is more a commercial question or a strategic decision than a technical decision.

“But in the future I would say, apart from classic motorsport, all motorsport will be electric. By the long-term future, not now. It will be cheaper to operate, it will be technically easier to design the car with more performance.

“Some countries will not accept promotion of combustion racing any more, it will be the same as promoting tobacco today.”

Di Grassi believes electric motorsport is growing more rapidly than expected. “How quickly this transition is will be the key point,” he said.

“We are already seeing a much quicker transition than expected towards Formula E, so manufacturers joining en masse here. How this progresses is the key question. This, nobody knows the answer.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 73 comments on “Combustion engine racing will go the way of tobacco advertising, warns Di Grassi”

      1. @Ram A former F1-driver driving for Virgin Racing (later Marussia and then Manor before collapsing entirely at the end of 2016) back in 2010 and one of the many F1-refugees competing in FE, LOL.

        1. @jerejj

          and looks like theyre enjoying it more than F1, even Massa

          1. We’d all surely enjoy it far more if circa half the FE Season’s races were held on real race circuits – for grown-ups…like F1. It”s absurd that it’s still being kept limited mostly to street racing. Famous track venues want to host FE – sadly the likes of VW and BMW still seem to want to push the “EVs are for cities” propaganda/myth.
            So much easier too to organise track races.
            Paul G

    1. Like the tobacco packets, they’ll be forced to cover F1 in pictures of pain, despair and misery. Or “McLaren” as it’s more commonly known.

      1. All F1 broadcasts will focus exclusively on McLaren.

    2. If we want to continue living on this planet [somewhat] comfortably then combustion engines as a whole eventually will have to be relegated to museums/one-off usage(s). Nothing too controversial here despite the petrolhead in me throwing a tantrum.

      1. Ultimately, the planes and ships ferrying the F1 (and FE) circus around the planet are producing far more emissions than the cars themselves during a race weekend.

        Political hacks are going after easy targets (cars) and avoiding the bigger issues like the fact that container cargo ships are the third largest greenhouse gas producing “country” in the world.

        1. Yes, but F1 doesn’t race in isolation. There are millions of people watching, and if F1 can contribute to a cultural shift towards more electric engines, it will have more impact than just the racing cars alone.

          Agreed ships, planes, etc. , but these are much wider issues that cannot be influenced by Motorsport in the same way. People watch the cars, not the logistical operation that gets them to the circuit.

          1. I think you may have identified the chief culprit in the wider picture …. “people”.

      2. “The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself.” — Alexander King Co-Founder of the Club of Rome, (premier environmental think-tank and consultants to the United Nations) from his 1991 book The First Global Revolution

        “We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.” –David Rockefeller, Club of Rome

        “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” — Paul Watson, Co-founder of Greenpeace

        “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” –Timothy Wirth, President of the UN Foundation and member of the Club of Rome.

        “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” — Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment

        “I believe it is appropriate to have an ‘over-representation’ of the facts on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience.” — Al Gore, member of the Club of Rome and set to become the world’s first carbon billionaire. He is also the largest shareholder of Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), which looks set to become the world’s central carbon trading body.

        “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about? The Earth Summit will play an important role in] reforming and strengthening the United Nations as the centerpiece of the emerging system of democratic global governance.” Maurice Strong, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Al Gore’s mentor and executive member of the Club of Rome.

        “The threat of environmental crisis will be the ‘international disaster key’ that will unlock the New World Order.” –Mikhail Gorbachev, Former President of the Soviet Union, member of the Club of Rome

        “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.” — Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, member of the Club of Rome.

        “World population needs to be decreased by fifty percent.” –Henry Kissinger, Former National Security Advisor, Former Secretary of State, chairman of Kissinger Associates, member of the Club of Rome.

        “A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”–Ted Turner, founder of CNN and major UN donor, member of the Club of Rome.

        “Some even believe we (the Rockefeller family) are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure ‘one world’, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” –David Rockefeller, Memoirs, page 405

        WAKE UP!

        1. “World population needs to be decreased by fifty percent.” –Henry Kissinger

          Kissinger supports Thanos? Who’d have known! :-)

          1. @phylyp Maybe Ted Turner ultimate goals are to send head blown frequency via CNN, like Valentine in Kingsman did.

        2. Is your point to highlight that global warming is a massive conspiracy theory? Maybe you should look at this and tell me it’s fake news with a straight face:
          https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46384067

          1. It’s on the BBC, so it’s fake news.

            1. AH, the tRuMpiAn use of the word fake, defined as “Don’t like it, don’t wanna think about it, can’t scam people with it”

      3. This is actually where you’re wrong. There is NOTHING inherently wrong with combustion engines. In fact, they can be more efficient than the grid if done right. HCCI combined with puled detonation could create an ICE with a thermal efficiency exceeding 80% and MUCH higher power to weight ratio’s than any electric motor. Furthermore, the electric grid itself has 70% losses via resistance to the lines, so even if a perfect battery or capacitor is made and has similar energy density to liquid fuels, which BTW is scientifically impossible given that the BEST battery’s we have right now have 1/20th the energy density of a ham sandwhich meanwhile diesel has 4,000% higher energy density than the best battery tech we have now. LNG is even higher than that.

        The electric motor has already reached its zenith. There is still much to be improved with ICE. the future may in fact be clean, adiabatic diesel engines.

    3. I seriously doubt his assertion that MOTORSPORT will all be electric, even if one will find little but electric vehicles on the roads (I doubt it will ever come even to that point though)

      1. @bascb well I’m not sure. I can easily imagine the situation where facilities are limited for ICE cars and events. In the UK at least, most circuits are limited by local government in the number of days that they can stage racing (because of noise and traffic pollution mainly). It would be perfectly possible for the Council to limit a circuit to 10 days per year for events involving ICE and 40 days per year for events not involving ICEs.
        Faced with that kind of obstacle (right or wrong) I can’t see many petrol/diesel powered championships being able to survive. In ten years time, the only events involving ICEs may be the Goodwood-type historical commemorative days.
        Just before Christmas I looked at the car I bought new about four and a half years ago. It’s a large diesel beast and has plummeted in value. Having decided not to sell it for another couple of years, I wondered if this would be the last ICE vehicle I would ever own. Probably.

        1. I get what you mean. And I think that for most travel inside and around cities we will get a mix of using electrical vehicles (mostly public transport of some sort though rather than private vehicles), maybe allowing hybrids on electric mode etc.
          And that goes both for deliveries of goods and transport of people.

          But once you get outside of town, I seriously doubt we will get in that situation within the next 2-3 decades. Where I live, the current state is that cars are on average some 23 years old. How long until every poor guy in the country can afford anything but their combustion vehicle.
          And how long do you think it will take before the shaky grid in farout places will even be able to support more than a few EV being loaded at once? It will take serious government involvement to EVER get that kind of grid coverage or even loading stations in lesser populated areas, because it just won’t be worth the investment for a private company

          You are certainly right that in most western countries it can help a lot if the racing is not as smelly and loud, as noise is probably one of the most obvious things that runs into local limits for tracks. But I really don’t see the infrastructure changing that fast as Di Grassi envisions.

      2. I tend to agree – I know synthesizing fossil fuels has been largely written off as uneconomical, but in motor sports, it might find it’s niche.

    4. Tobacco is still around…and thanks you.

      FE should also charge green snd ship/fly electric or not race – or cut this false crap!!!

      1. Might be crap, might not. It’s public perception that matters, not facts.
        But as the public’s opinion turns against petrol/diesel powered cars, fewer manufacturers and sponsors will wish to be involved – and that could kill the upper levels of motorsport very quickly.

      2. I’m not sure it’s entirely reasonable to suggest that FE has to completely overhaul our entire energy and transport infrastructure before it can tout its green credentials. Transition to non-fossil fuel industries has to start somewhere and the eventual (and probably not too distant) demise of ICE is one useful contribution to that, and will be particularly beneficial once our energy infrastructure is dominated by renewables.

        di Grassi is fundamentally correct, ICE racing will become, at most, a niche area of motorsport; the only question is will F1 manage to make a meaningful transition to (presumably) electric before it becomes irrelevant (I hope so).

      3. He said tobacco advertising, which is more taboo now than in the past.

    5. He’s not wrong about combustion engines, even tho his views are very biased… But Peugeot already pulled the plug from rally cross because they are not going electric and Volkswagen already announced they are not going to develop ICE further in the next decade, so the end is clearly near.

      F1 as it is right now will die, ofc. As much as I hate it, it’s just going to happen. And it’s not as entertaining as it was to keep going as a “show”.

      1. @fer-no65

        ” Volkswagen already announced they are not going to develop ICE further in the next decade” …can you provide a source for this?

      2. European politics may have decided the time is right to cease production of car engines that run on petrol, but Europe isn’t everywhere. As Edward Heath once said, “24 hours is a long time in politics”, so it just needs something to suddenly compromise Europe’s ability to generate electricity and suddenly petrol powered cars will be back in fashion.

        1. That’s not really how Europe has historically responded, I think it would be far more likely to see Europe push production of electricity to the individual in a few short years, whilst using the event to scapegoat their enemies, probably Russia, and use it as an excuse to attack them economically.

    6. Even though his point could be right, I always think that its always sour grapes and not him being ethical talking. Especially after when he promotes that stupid roborace using the death of someone in an AI car accident.

    7. After driving a Tesla I really think that it’s a technology maturity thing more than anything else. Once we crack battery storage and can get similar weight and mileage to combustion engine and 100L of fuel I think that the electric option is going to be faster.

      I want formula 1 to be the fastest racing on the planet and if that means an electric car I’m down for that.

      1. Part of the reason it’s hard to get close on weight per mileage is that electric vehicles rely solely on “energy storage” and combustion is “energy conversion”. Energy potential in a conversion-able pound of gasoline is immense compared to what we can store in a pound of battery. It’s not apples to apples, but it’s interesting thought.

    8. Never mind that almost all electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels…anything is possible in this politically correct world, I am afraid.

      1. I think you may have asserted that before. but let’s look at the figures of the UK.
        In Q2 2018 power came from-
        40.7%: Gas-fired power stations
        28.1%: Renewables
        22.5%: Nuclear plants
        1.3%: Coal-fired power stations
        7.4%: Electricity imports
        So if we ignore the ‘Electricity Imports’ because we don’t know the source. We have 42% Gas and Coal i.e. fossil fuels. Versus 50.6% Renewables plus Nuclear.
        Now let’s look at the pace of development of supply.
        In 2008, UK off-shore wind produced 0.8 Twh of energy, but in 2017 it was 20.9 Twh. On-shore wind showed similar rapid growth.
        There are many more sources of wind power (on-shore and off-shore) being built and brought on stream. In the next two years I would not be surprised if Renewables topped 40%, Nuclear remained at about 22% and gas-fired declined to around 30%.
        So I would refute your claim that “almost all electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels” unless @gpfacts you live in an oil rich country where fossil fuel prices are kept artificially below world prices in order to pacify the population. This is not an insult, I do not know where you are contributing from.

        1. @nickwyatt I appreciate that, but UK or western EU in general are way ahead of the rest of the world. Since racing is a global sport, we need to look at global electricity generation and I believe that no more than 20% comes from renewables. Coal is king and the supply still in the ground could yet last for centuries! Good chunk comes from nuclear, but that presents its unique challenges, spent fuel storage primarily…Chernobyl and Fukushima being rather more extreme examples. No doubt in another ten years and beyond this balance will keep shifting, but by then electric battery will be old technology of its own. Maybe racing should go the way of hydrogen cell to be more cutting edge and relevant?

          1. No-one is demanding an instant solution, Paris is a generous timeline to catch and overtake countries like the UK, and no-one is insisting on perfection in a solution, but the best we can possibly do – and if the UK can do it, any other country in the world can too, if allowed and have the will.

          2. It takes more energy to make hydrogen than what they release, so its not profitable from an energy sense to use them. Also hydrogen cells cars are basically electric cars anyways just with the hydrogen as the energy storage medium instead of batteries.

            Electric cars aren’t the end all solution either, it must be followed by more conversion to other power generation sources. However one big advantage they have over ICE is energy efficiency. Most of the energy you burn in an ICE engine is wasted away compared to a battery powered electrical motor car. So even if you create no new renewable energy sources, you’ll get better results just from having more energy to go around

      2. Correct. From the Forbes article linked below. Worldwide electricity generation:

        Coal 41%
        Gas 22%
        Nuclear 11%
        Other 26%

        To me this means that at most 26% of the world’s electricity usage is some form of renewable, and probably a large part of that 26% is hydro, which can have it’s own massive environmental impacts. See Science Daily link below.

        The same Forbes article also mentions that adding one electric car to a household can increase household electricity usage by 50%. In a world where we are mostly still relying on coal and gas for electricity, this is going to seriously increase the amount of coal and gas we burn, and put extra loading on electricity networks.

        Then looking past where the electricity comes from, we have the lithium mining issue and the environmental impact of that. See Wired article linked.

        Like banning single use plastic bags, I think electric cars are another thing that makes people feel good, rather than being significant changes that will help the environment and address climate change.

        Forbes Article
        Wired Article
        Science Daily Article

        1. @formulales

          “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” — Paul Watson, Co-founder of Greenpeace

      3. Even if this was true which it is not in my region it would still mean the city I walk around in would be much more pleasant. The air is horrible here in the winter and summer and if there were only electric cars this would be no problem at all. The electricity that is made in fossil fuel burning plants is outside the city and doesn’t contribute in any real way to the problems with the air I breath. Sounds like a Foxnews talking point that you keep repeating. At some point you have to start fixing things.

    9. If your electricity is generated by grinding up puppies, kittens and unicorns how good is it really? Lithium requires very deep mining which is not good for the earth or environment, and unless a different type of battery can be developed, to say all cars will eventually be electric is reaching pretty far.
      Given the current battery technology, the lack of charging stations and the power of the oil companies I think something like CO2 fuel will end up being the next “solution” as it can apparently be used now without modifying our cars, still needs to be processed by someone (oil companies) and delivered via a pump (again oil companies).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb_8DJF6Hp0&t=6s

      1. @velocityboy

        Lithium car batteries are recycled, your phone and tablet batteries go in landfills. Nice work.

        1. Recycling magically creates every bit of lithium?

          Your being dense, deliberately…

          1. Lithium will not be the be all and end all of battery technology. We will move on to better, more efficient chemicals just like we moved on from nickel, just like we moved on from cadmium, just like we’re moving on from lead.

    10. If all cars were electric the generation of electricity would need to increase substantially. Not just generation but the whole electricity grid will need to be upgraded and future proofed.

      A New Zealand study found that;

      “With a fleet of four million cars, vans, utes, small trucks, and large trucks, charging all these vehicles could take up almost the entire currently installed generation capacity we have for electricity.”

      http://www.infometrics.co.nz/big-ev-fleet-can-new-zealands-grid-handle/

      Would be interesting for other countries to do the same exercise and come up with a figure on cost and time to upgraded electricity generation and distribution to suit a 100% EV fleet.

      In New Zealand at least the electricity generation and distribution networks would need to be twic ethe size they are now.

      Bottom dollar is that the cost of the electricity infrastructure expansion will be handed down to the EV car owner through user charges.

      1. Most countries should be working to improve their energy infrastructure anyway, it’s simply a good investment. It’s also worth noting that massive infrastructure investments were needed to support the existing fossil fuel based infrastructure. Why shouldn’t such investments be made again, it’ll be an awful lot cheaper to make the investments now and try to avoid the enormous future costs of failing to do enough.

      2. ‘a new zealand study’

        They could have had a look at Holland (e.g Old Zeeland) Germany and Belgium to see people actually dumping their cars altogtehr for cheaper EVs such as bikes and scooters. People often overlook how the massive improvements are bringing us fun and reliable vehicles even without the ‘green’ bonus

        1. Another dense comment from big joe.

          If you live in a big city…. GREAT! Go ride that bike…

          But to be so dense, as to think the entire world can work that way… wow.

          “You take a bike to work?… I walk… why are you so lazy? Don’t you know how much pollution it makes to build bikes? Big bike is ruining the planet because x…”

          See how easy (and useless) that was? This thread has the same problems global warming does, people trying to over simplify things to prove their own agendas.

          1. It is simple.

          2. His point, that you have not at all refuted was that NZ based that study on current usage. Granted not everyone can start using bikes, but plenty of people could, and would if it was made possible for them to do so. So their numbers were flawed because part of converting a country from fossil fuels to renewable is most definitely encouraging and creating the infrastructure to allow more bike use in the cities. As they did a one to one conversion, their numbers are flawed, this was the point big joe made, and you made it look like you have a personal problem with him as you ignored his point and threw a slur.

    11. And if that happens fans will go the way of dinosaurs. I’m not going to watch that crap.

    12. Combustion engine racing will go the way of tobacco advertising, warns Di Grassi

      So…that means the still-tobacco-sponsored Ferrari will stay in F1 and win consecutive championships for…decades. ;-)

      The only eco-friendly racing series is soapbox derbies, mountain bike racing and maybe Tour de France too. Although many dinosaurs died to provide that much lycra livery.

    13. Cristiano Ferreira
      12th January 2019, 0:34

      A crap racing driver speaking about a crap racing series and making a crap argument. Genius

      While i do agree that somehow combustion engines harms the enviroment, i cant agree with him because the whole enviroment where he works only has the electrical package in the cars. Everything else involved harms the planet as much as F1 or any other motorsport.

      Thats why i cant stand FE and the jokers that take part in that “competition”. That bunch is so hypocrytal its not even funny.

      1. “It’s really difficult to fix, so let’s not bother even starting” it the argument of the weak and the lazy.

        1. Cristiano Ferreira
          13th January 2019, 16:53

          Im not against a solution for improving our planet as a whole. I just find FE hypocritical as hell. They try to bash or point fingers at F1 every chance they can. Just for a quick heads up: Di Grassi often comes back here to Brazil to take part in stock car events that takes place here. Stock Car races with ICE just for the matter.

          So i dont know why he is making this statement.

          1. Fair enough then, I avoid politics in my sports like the plague, and this might explain why some of the F1 fans have the view they have on the sport, I always thought it was odd that more racing was somehow worse to a racing fan!

    14. No.

      No it won’t.

      It’s F1 moving on to F-Zero.

    15. I doubt Di Grassi will be saying this if he were in F1….it almost as if their bitter that they failed in F1.

      1. Nah, he just realises that theres an exciting, competitive alternative series outside of the stale F1 bubble!

        1. Jeez you’re really kidding are you not?

          I mean really – it’s a perfect case of ,well he would say that wouldn’t he’ given he is like, no one, a little bitter and still hankering after that F1 call up….

          Have you watched that dire series?

          1. And you’re really not kidding? You genuinely believe that F1 is the best racing on the planet? Well OK, your opinion is your own!

    16. When a politician or company CEO keeps pontificating about how well they are doing… you know they are in trouble…
      Just get on with FE, and let the eventual results show us what will happen.
      All this BS reminds me of school yard jibes… ‘My dad’s bigger than your dad…!’

      Que Serra, Serra…

      1. What about a politician who answers a question when asked?

    17. The largest amount of fuel consumed at an F1 GP is by people, e.g. fans, staff, VIPs, trucks, buses, etc, driving to the event. I expect the same happens at a Formula E event as well: more fuel is burnt by people driving or riding to the event or supporting the event than is used to generate electricity for the cars.
      I don’t see why F1 couldn’t change to being electrically driven, but the current hybrid engines are probably the most fuel efficient engines in a car ever. Keeping the rules stable will probably encourage more development in this area.
      Every stage of changing energy from one form to another incurs waste. For example, changing AC to DC costs you something like 14% of the electricity used, and that’s before you start to charge your battery. There is another loss in power when you charge a battery, and again there is a loss when you discharge the battery. Also, there are losses inside the electric motor.
      I’ve noticed over the years that the biggest improvements in a field come when there is a threat from another field. So this is probably the time when the petrol engine manufacturers should be pushing to improve their engines so they match the efficiency of electric motors.

    18. What about a fair competition? Recall the dawn of the turbo era back of 80’s – atmospheric engines and turbos were allowed and resulted in spectacular battles like Dijon – Villeneuve vs Arnoux. They call F1 a pinnacle of motorsport but there are so much restrictions it’s almost impossible to get some advantages due to design of power plants and the cars themselves.

    19. Loads of idi@ts here moaning about the climate change and ships, but consider your local air quality for the near future and the poisons your kids are inhaling. I take it you’re the guys removing their CAT convertors to make bigger VROOM VROOM noises that can be heard above our TV and Music in private?

      I’m also taking names ;) of those who obviously dont want to drive these cars at track days when they lease them out cheapily due to being cheaper, less messy to run, not only that they get more running time at track days due to noise regulations which waters down the cost of the operation, for the likes of me to be first in the queue :)

    20. Its cold outside. More global warming needed. This time of year the little league racing has motorsport action to themselves so get mouthy. Formula E is cack and has only come into my mind as Verstappen was forced to watch it as a punishment. Once the proper cars start racing we will not hear about Formula E until the next motorsport off season.

      1. If it’s cold outside, global warming might make it even colder outside – because fluid dynamics are complicated.

    21. They all say that now (FE drivers). Knowing they were never any good in F1 or never made it to F1. Im sure if they were successful they wouldn’t say anything of the sort

    22. Im no scientist but is not the earth the worlds biggest battery? The sun our most powerful source of power? Unfortunately the powers that be dont want to let go of their power. Free clean energy is it possible? To a degree i believe yes. Will it happen? No.

    Comments are closed.