Start, Formula E, Sanya, 2019

Sooner, later or never: When should Formula 1 go fully electric?

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Formula 1’s current V6 hybrid turbo engine format has been in place since 2014. Teams debated whether to simplify the devices from 2021, but eventually decided to keep the same, largely unchanged format.

But as more car manufacturers invest in bringing electric cars to the market is it time F1 considered a radical change and makes plans to drop petrol power completely?

In Formula E, motor racing already has an all-electric single-seater championship. It claims to have an exclusive right to run the FIA’s electric single-seater series, which could present an obstacle for F1 if it has electric ambitions of its own.

But if the world’s engine builders see combustion as a technology of the past, will F1 have to consider doing something similar? Ross Brawn has said it could do within ‘five or 10 years’, and even Lewis Hamilton has recently said Formula E is “going to be the future”.

Can F1 afford to ignore electric power much longer?

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Emissions taxes are pushing more car buyers towards alternatives to petrol and diesel. Governments are passing legislation to restrict the sale of combustion engine vehicles – some, such as Norway, as early as 2025.

As a result car manufacturers are ploughing billions into developing electric cars. If F1 wants to be able to retain its current manufacturers and introduce new ones it has no alternative other than to go electric sooner rather than later.


The internal combustion engine has always been part of F1 car design. There isn’t an alternative at present which would allow F1 cars to compete over current distances at comparable speeds.

Formula E already satisfies the need for an electric racing championship. Formula 1 should shift its focus away from technology and towards producing spectacular racing in dramatic cars, which means sticking with the internal combustion engine for now.

I say

It’s hard to imagine many, perhaps any, new manufacturers entering F1 under the current engine rules. This contrasts sharply with Formula E, which by the end of the year will have Audi, BMW, DS Automobiles, Jaguar, Mercedes, Nissan and Porsche competing.

However there is no getting away from the fact that if Formula 1 went fully electric tomorrow the competition would change drastically. Races would have to become shorter or slower; or more likely a combination of both.

If F1 chooses to spurn a fully-electric solution, it may find itself unable to retain some of its current manufacturers, let alone attract new ones. In which case it may have to adopt an engine formula attractive to custom engine builders, and accept its days of attracting big-spending major car manufacturers are behind it.

This is a scenario those running the sport will be unwilling to contemplate. The failure to attract any new power unit builders for 2021 makes it obvious that a long-term strategy for replacing the current engine format with something more attractive to car builders has to take priority. Realistically, I suspect this is going to have to happen within the next 10 years.

You say

When should F1 go fully electric? Or should F1 cars always include an internal combustion engine?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

When should Formula 1 go fully electric?

  • No opinion (2%)
  • Never (42%)
  • Later than 20 years (10%)
  • Within 11-20 years (23%)
  • Within 6-10 years (17%)
  • Within 5 years (7%)

Total Voters: 349

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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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198 comments on “Sooner, later or never: When should Formula 1 go fully electric?”

  1. I’d make the argument never, maybe even returning to full internal combustion engines

    Horse racing never went away with the advent of the internal combustion engine, I don’t see why F1 can’t remain while also having Formula E alongside

    1. I agree. The horse analogy sprung to my mind also.
      Aside from racing, people still ride horses for leisure; the same can happen to the ICE.

      1. Unlike horses, however, commercial use of internal combustion engines will go away. The horse racing analogy would work great otherwise.

        1. Commercial use of horses today are?

          And I’d wager there will still be some commercial use of ICE for a long time yet

          1. You can ride a horse in the streets, if you want to.
            Regarding ICE vehicles “for a long time”, well, if they’re here to stay, then we’re not here to stay. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

          2. @philipgb – the use of the word ‘wager’ is apposite. How long do you think horse racing would continue without gambling?

          3. @gnosticbrian

            Excluding horse racing because of the betting industry ties then, there are other equestrian sports

            People love horses despite the advent of the car, people will still love the internal combustion engine despite the prevalence of electric motors

          4. @philipgb – I am aware of other equestrian activities. I specifically referred to Horse Racing in response to your opening comment: “Horse racing never went away with the advent of the internal combustion engine”.

            Some people love horses; with some teenage girls it can become obsessive. I don’t like horses. They may have real leather upholstery and all-independent suspension but thay also have wayward steering and very little braking. And they are almost as high maintenance as a Lotus.

        2. It is not a 100% certainty that ICEs will obsolesce.

          Until the energy density problem is truly solved, it is not certain. Certainly it is possible, even likely, ICEs will obsolesce. But it is not certain.

          Note that there are other alternatives other that pure EV in the mix. For example: Ethanol/Bio (uses ICE) and other chemical/electrical processes resulting in energy dense liquid fuel (uses ICE). In fact, many processes that efficiently extract carbon from the atmosphere into liquid combustible forms is a hot area of research.

          Note too that lightweight (high energy density) vehicles are inherently safer…they carry less kinetic energy per velocity. So when push comes to shove later, when methods have to compete in marketplace, higher energy density will have a safety argument going for it too.

          1. Biofuels are not a long term solution to motor cars. They still produce pollution and the biofuel has to come from somewhere… often from land used to grow food or land cleared where rainforests once stood. There are other ways to produce it but not on the scale required. Electric is the best method, it is the most efficient method and the easiest method. Electric motors are simply a much better way to move a car than trying to convert all sorts of different forces in order to produce rotation, they are better to drive and better to live with. Energy density in current EVs is close to good enough now. We could power the worlds cars with current tech and everything would be fine. It will however get even better, cheaper etc so the future is bright.

            However I do not think F1 has to go down that route as such, especially anytime soon. It is not road relevant anyway so has no need to go fully electric. We have FE for that and it will get better and better. F1 will likely be dead in a few years anyway for reasons not connected with the environment…

        3. You think so. Then why have Toyota decided the all electric way is not for them. Although they are looking at other options for the ICE, probably hydrogen fueled.

          1. Toyota are in decline purely for that reason… They are pursuing hydrogen purely because they have ploughed so much money in that they are reluctant to admit that they have taken the wrong path. Hydrogen is energy intensive to produce, currently produces huge amounts of CO2 and is inefficient compared to battery electric. Hydrogen also requires bulky fuel tanks that are hard to package in a vehicle. There could be uses for hydrogen but not in cars…

          2. Also using hydrogen in an ICE is ludicrous. Toyota currently use Fuel Cells. They are around 60% efficient. Far more efficient than ICE but far less efficient than Battery. Why would you burn it in a pointless effort to move pistons up and down and all the inefficiencies that creates when you could just use it to produce electricity?

    2. The horse racing analogy falls short. A lot of that industry is just gambling. Betting on the trainers of the horses more than anything. Knowing the inside scoop to put the bets on the right horses to make money for nothing off the punters who have no idea and just go to get drunk. That’s the main reason it’s still around, it’s purely a racket, and the governments which host the races get their cut.

      Very few people are watching horse racing for the entertainment of the horses being pushed to their limits (as automobiles arguably are in F1.) If they were steeplechase would be a lot more popular.

    3. maybe even returning to full internal combustion engines

      Arguably they are fully ICE now, @philipgb.
      All energy comes directly or indirectly from the ICE (except for the initial battery charge).

      I think F1 has another 20 or so years of ICE ahead, but they should (IMO) maximise the energy efficiency as they are doing now rather than go backwards.

      1. I agree with @coldfly – maximizing the efficiency while still breaking lap records and putting on a good show. That’s the sweet spot and I think the current generation of cars are doing it right.

    4. Phillip is correct. Never go fully electric and bring back complete ICE powerplants.

    5. The problem with ICE engines is that they are bad for the environment. Pollution if not CO2 because of fossil fuels Eventually these engines will be banned. So it is inevitable that Formula One must switch to fully electric or hydrogen engines in the future. Whether it will be within or after 20 years is the question. Not if.

      So I voted 11-20. Sooner is unlikely because of range and power oimits Formula E currently has.

      1. So are the jet aircrafts used to get to locations, the mining of the materials for the batteries, even if they go fully electric renewable means of energy production can’t practically produce the amount of energy we need.

        ICE will be regulated out of practical use eventually, but we’ll still likely have them kept by collectors and sports series

      2. ICE’s are worse than the coal burning factories and rare metal mining operations needed to produce those awful EVs? I don’t think so.

        1. George May (@grandmasterorge)
          22nd April 2019, 8:12

          Not sure how many factories you’ve visited but they don’t tend to be set up for burning coal.

        2. What rare metals?

          Lithium, cobalt, sodium, silicon…. they are not rare by any means…

          There are some rare earth metals used in motors but not all motors use them and they are not actually rare metals…

          Oh and if an EV is powered purely by coal generated electricity, it is still cleaner than an ICE vehicle… Most are not powered by coal generated electricity though or at least not primarily. The other benefit is that as the grid becomes cleaner, your EV automatically becomes cleaner…

      3. I wonder if the range limitation could be addressed by designing battery packs to be hot-swappable though.

    6. Suffering Williams Fan
      21st April 2019, 19:44

      I’m shocked at the number of people opting for “never”. If F1 “never” goes all electric it’s essentially guaranteeing its own demise – it doesn’t strike me as likely that the money/expertise to seriously sustain a racing series with irrelevant technology will be available once all of the manufacturers move on. Battery tech continues to improve incrementally year-on-year, so FE will gradually erode the current limitations and I would think F1 could help accelerate that process by committing to an all-electric format in a fairly short time frame.

      I also find it strange that in a sport that has built and image as the pinnacle of racing technology so many fans have become attached to a technology whose time is essentially up. Time to stop looking backwards; FE has already demonstrated that all-electric is now a viable formula, we should be looking to make it the best it can be.

      1. Batteries are not an efficient way to store the energy needed for the race; too heavy. Formula 1 should look at power alternatives, but not become Formula E’s bigger brother! With the current technology around, I’d say go for magnesium or hydrogen as power sources.

        1. Hydrogen is terrible! Imagine how large the tank would have to be and how bulky it would be!

          I an not sure you mean to say batteries are inefficient as they are clearly far more efficient than ICE. I think you mean energy density which is a very different thing. However new battery technologies are getting the energy density closer to that of petrol.

          And Magnesium? I Assume you are referring to batteries which sort of contradicts your opening line… Magnesium batteries come in two forms. Primary cells which are magnesium air fuel cells. These are pretty good but can not be recharged (although they can be refuelled by replacing electrolyte and Anode although that is not something you would do very easily). And secondary cells which are rechargeable but have less energy density than lithium ion… So I am not sure how that helps in F1…

      2. Until batteries have the same energy density as hydrocarbons they will only be good for niche motorsport, typically of short duration, Pikes Peak springs to mind.

        Hydrocarbons are still 7x as energy dense as current battery tech

        1. They don’t need the same energy density, as electric motors are considerably more efficient than the current F1 hybrids. Also doing away with engine and gearbox would save a bit of weight.

          Battery technology continues to advance, and an awful lot more money is being spent on research than even a few years ago.

          Ten years before it’s not even worth trying to develop a new F1 power plant – assuming you could even find anyone willing to spend the millions required.

          1. You don’t seem too hot on numbers Nigel? Try again with more focus.

            Ask yourself why FE never races on the same circuit as F1? Answer, they would be shown up to be so much slower. I seem to recall Lewis commenting awhile back that they were at about the same pace as a Formula Ford.

          2. Actually @Nigel is correct. You do not need the same energy density as Petrol you need enough energy density to match the performance of petrol engines… Petrol engines are around 30% efficient at peak that means that over 70% of all the fuel you carry is wasted as heat. So if you are 100% efficient then you need only 30% of the energy density in order to match petrol. EVs are around 90% efficient so would not need anywhere near the same energy density as petrol to get the same performance. Now F1 engines are a bit more efficient than normal car engines as the tolerances are finer and the temperatures are higher. However they are still not over 40% efficient at peak. Current F1 engines can approach 50% peak efficiency but that is with the help of electric motors… That is also peak efficiency (ie the best it gets during the driving cycle) the actual efficiency is lower.

            FE cars are slower due to a number of factors. Currently batteries are not energy dense enough to match ICE range for a good enough cost, weight and size. Also the cost of FE cars is purposefully kept low. The batteries are stock batteries so teams can not pour money into improving them. Also FE is developed as a cheaper event to put on and more accessible to fans so the tracks are city tracks. It is different from F1.

        2. @frasier: Or the electric-only F1 could skip those pathetic little batteries and choose to only race on circuits certain for lightening strikes. Timing would be critical of course. And likely only one driver would get the thrill of being accelerated by 500 megajoules of energy for a brief glorious fraction of a second.

          Until clever F1 engineers figure out how to make lightening strike twice in almost the the place.


          1. Might be possible with a lightning conductor like a church spire? Clearly the car with the tallest spike would be at an advantage, so regulations would have to govern that. Probably need to remove the conductors from all the surrounding tall buildings, suspect Paris might be reluctant to do that now.

            Needs more thought @jimmi-cynic

    7. The usage of horses never fully went away. However ICEs will go the way of the steam engine and the dodo.

    8. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      23rd April 2019, 17:17

      As ICE becomes irrelevant in domestic and business use it will no longer be developed. EVs will continue to develop.
      If F1 never changes it will eventually run the risk of being slower than Formula E. What then?

      1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk
        I don’t think there’s a chance of ever reaching that. Places where circuits are located will become intolerant of the noise and chemical pollution of ICE engined F1 cars far before that.
        But I expect, that even before that FIA, will move to full electric. When a good chunk of new car sales are full electric and increasing F1 would look very backward sticking to ICE power.

  2. I would say within 11-20 years, BUT with a one huge BUT!
    ONLY when the electric power in at least participating countries really become green and sustainable.

    At this moment no F1 country is anywhere near this. And despite all the fuss and shouts there are no real viable plans to change this on the next 10 years…
    If we continue to burn oil, gas and coal and pretend that cars, using electricity from these sources, are green, then it is just hypocrisy and a lie.

    As in 10 years nothing will be ready, let’s give them another 10 to try…

    1. Oh God, enough of the greenie-weenie crap. This is racing! Race cars will use petroleum products and should continue to. The time F1 goes fully electric is when lots of fans, myself included, cease watching.

      1. Enough of climate change denial!

        Fossil fuels must die. Period.
        And denials and lies won’t help this.

        1. The moment somebody accuses someone else of something so absurd as ‘climate denial’ they’ve shown themselves to be devoid of a logical argument. Name calling is playground stuff

          1. Suggestion … take the standard Climate Change, We-Are-Doomed, graph which depicts CO2 concentration and Global temperatures tracked over the last 50 or so years.
            The general observation is that the two track pretty closely. Easy to do if you know even a little about graphing stuff to look the way you want.
            Now add two additional bits of data to the graph, global population and high altitude air travel, volume, miles traveled, however you want. I am sure you can find other stuff to put on the graph that will give you the same scary outcome. Maybe add solar radiation to the mix as well.
            Yep, we’re looking like we’re doomed, but we may be chasing the wrong horse.

          2. Co2 causing “climate change” is all smoke and mirrors. Dont let politics ruin good racing. Co2 is not causing climate change; politicians are saying so just so they have something else to tax. Dont be a stooge.

          3. George May (@grandmasterorge)
            22nd April 2019, 8:19

            I’m shocked at the level of wilful ignorance shown in this comments section. The science on this is reasonably well understood and available for anyone to read, there is little to no controversy in the scientific community on the subject.

          4. @grandmasterorge there is a huge gap between a small amount of warming that has been responsible, together with CO2, for substantial greening of our planet…


            …and the type of doom mongering pedalled by the likes of Attenborough in his emotional alarmist rubbish. His argument was entirely based on computer models that have been proven to have no predictive skill. Model outputs are also based upon RCP 8.5, a very unlikely worst-case scenario for the future.

            The planet has many natural systems for temperature regulation, notably the tropical thunderstorm system which bypasses the greenhouse effect to take heat directly to high altitude.


            We are very fortunate to have all the water cycle to transport equatorial heat around the planet via the oceans and keep us in a ‘Goldilocks’ climate. We are not doomed, we are living in a period of immense wealth, bought about by plenty of fuel to take the back-breaking labour of the past off human shoulders.

            Go and find the dog that didn’t bark in Attenborough’s alarmism. That’s right, no mention of Gen IV nuclear, the only viable method of reducing emissions. That the programme makers did not promote this shows they do not believe their own propaganda

          5. The consequences of climate change are very hard to accept and that it is much easier to believe it is a hoax. We can ignore facts and evidence but they still remain facts and evidence. As for the future of F1, I have enjoyed watching it for decades and it is because it is the pinnacle of motor racing. However, I couldn’t care less about what makes it go, or the noise or makes. I reckon F1 will be fully electric within 10 years.

          6. @frasier using appeal to ridicule and a single hypothesis which not even remotely means what you think it means does not make someone who has smart arguments.

            This is not even remotely as relevant as the current scientific consensus. The “greening” you mention is real, yes, but any gain is infinitely smaller than all the biomass lost to deforestation and desertification. Special pleading much, given these two?

            Not to mention, again, how insulting you manage to be toward people who’ve worked their lives studying biological, atmospheric and computing sciences.

          7. To Postreader

            Well, I don’t see any ridicule except to Attenborough who brings it upon himself. If you think I’m wrong to quote peer reviewed literature, then lets hear your rebuttal of the conclusions Willis Eschenbach has reached about global temperature regulation. As for the single hypothesis you speak about, is this not what we are invited to believe about the CO2 theory?

            Einstein said ‘A thousand scientists can’t prove me right, but one can prove me wrong’. We can’t prove a hypothesis but we can disprove it. All the grossly exaggerated results generated from global climate models show that the CO2 sensitivity factor used is too high. There is a big natural element to global temperature management and it’s kept the planet locked to +/- 3degC through huge variations in greenhouse gasses and insolation.

            Disaster isn’t waiting around the corner from CO2, but it may well be from ignorance amongst the policy makers who put our energy security at risk by bowing to green groups, the latest of which is XR who also use disruptive tactics rather than logical discussion to get their way.

            If you want to know how much agreement there really is amongst climate scientists, then study this report


            Or perhaps you’re too allied to the ‘consensus’, a political tool BTW, to broaden your mind?

    2. The case for electricity cars is that they retain way way higher efficiency than ICE, which extremely inefficient.

      So even if you are still using non green sources, you will be able to get more mileage from the a certain amount of energy.

      1. George May (@grandmasterorge)
        22nd April 2019, 8:19

        I’m shocked at the level of wilful ignorance shown in this comments section. The science on this is reasonably well understood and available for anyone to read, there is little to no controversy in the scientific community on the subject.

  3. Needs a compromise, combustion engine to generate the electricity, small batteries to store it and electric motive power.

    1. Why would you do that? You are simply adding another step to the process and reducing efficiency.

    2. That would be worse than the current engines now, its more efficient to just turn the combustion to kinetic.

  4. Battery tech is simply not advancing fast enough for this to be possible within 15 years unless something changes. A while back I joked about f1 having some kind of electric cables running over the track like tram lines and while there are obviously issues that make that impossible (expensive, does not work at high speeds) I think some kind of wireless charging could make electric f1 possible surprisingly quickly. Biggest issue for electric cars is the short range and long recharging times which make the cars very heavy as they need huge batteries. For f1 car this is an equation that can not be solved. Some kind of active recharging system could allow f1 to keep its high power levels without having to carry massive batteries and if that kind of tech surfaces in the next 15 years then I’d expect f1 to move to that kind of systems as well.

    1. That will be the challenge as battery tech advances, to cover 305km faster that an ICE and from renewable power sources. It certainly can’t be solved yet, but it will be, as the rate of advance in electric road cars & Formula E is phenominal. Whether F1 has any audience left by then is another matter.

  5. I have gone for never.

    If F1 becomes a dinosaur or a (serious) threat to life on the planet then let it die and mankind can look back fondly to what was an entertaining sport in its day.

    We already have Formula E … for what it is worth … zero in my opinion but still, early days I suppose.

    1. Also went for never but mainly because I am not convinced full electric is the future. This is a trend pushed by Tesla in my opinion and CNG or hydrogen are as green as current electric cars.

      I wouldn’t mind F1 going the road of CNG actually. This still is some kind of combustion engine and could probably reach quite quickly the level of power we currently have in F1 while being a greener alternative…
      F1 should still get greener somehow but not through the controversial full electric as we have now (with shortage of battery components and digging for rare materials).

      1. @jeanrien

        Good call. The big energy players are betting on Natural Gas for the interim and Hydrogen for the future.

      2. @jeanrien although there are hydrogen ICEs, the most common way of using hydrogen as an energy source for vehicles is to use it to generate electricity which then powers an electric motor. Therefore hydrogen are also fully electric most of the time.

        As for NGVs, they have already been around for decades but don’t seem to be gaining popularity, neither by drivers nor by researches or alternate fuel proponents. I guess they are only a half-measure and as such don’t draw people’s attention.

  6. Do the same thing they did back in the day with Turbo engines and normally aspirated ones. Rewrite the rules to allow electric motors to be used and let the teams decide when the tech is good enough to give them a performance advantage…just let it happen organically

    1. Yes, this, totally this. If F1 wants to be at the forefront of technology then you need to let the innovation happen.

      I voted never because there will always be a place for ICE racing, it just comes down to who is willing to participate.

      1. I also agree with this. Open the regs to allow for more electric power and let the teams figure out how to be fast.

    2. robinsonf1 (@)
      23rd April 2019, 10:48

      +1 from me

  7. It is a tragedy that car manufacturers are pouring billions into development of battery powered electric cars…because it means they will be around for decades. Electricity is not necessarily clean and certainly not cheap…as the global demand could only be increasing, the prices will as well. Nobody ever talks about what will happen to all those spent batteries, either. Apparently, the car manufacturers are not going to be responsible for its disposal/recycle. So, we are likely to just dump it somewhere in Africa or Indonesia, and pad ourselves on the back for cleaning up the air.

    1. +1, no +10

    2. And this is precisely the Problem with electric vehicles. I would rather have CO2, plant a tree, then to have all that awful battery waste. And i am a battery expert wit a us patent.

    3. @gpfacts

      Perhaps not even cleaning up the air, because in my country they are replacing gas- with wood-burning, as the latter is supposedly renewable if you replant the trees. Yet burning wood is very dirty, causing asthma and shortening people’s lives.

  8. Within next 5 years.

    By 2024, (6th year), electric mobility would have made sufficient progress to reach critical mass in most markets across the world. If formula 1 doesn’t turn electric by then, it would have missed the bus and Formula E would become the premier motor racing series.

    However, I am not sure “Formula 1” as such has any decision making power, does it? The power lies with the 4 major engine manufacturers, doesn’t it? Of these, Mercedes is already present in Formula E and will drop F1 the moment their board decides that we are in one racing series too many.
    Renault is already present in Formula E via Nissan.
    Honda is said to use its Formula 1 base as a medium of training engineers. No reason for them to not switch to Formula E. Honda also perhaps has the largest electric car portfolio of the 4.

    That leaves Ferrari. And I recently read rumors that they already have tested electric super cars. I imagine it will be quite a coup for Agag to get Ferrari. Which means Ferrari may get some bonus for joining Formula E if they play their cards right. Infact, given the lack of revenues of Formula 1 as a whole, I predict Ferrari could be first of the 4 to entirely switch from Formula 1 to Formula E.

    1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      21st April 2019, 14:43

      Lol pass that joint when your done.

      1. Right after you buddy.

  9. Surely one metric for considering making the change is when electric cars can legitimately challenge power units that contain a combustion component.

    At that point, the switch will be considered…..

    The benchmark for working this out should not be compromised to favour electric cars.

    In the mean-time I can see a graduated reduction in the role the combustion component plays in the power unit as a whole.

  10. It is hard to set a time frame, but if/when it is possible to build full electric cars that are faster than their hybrid (or full ICE) counterpart and can be raced for a full GP distance then it will be time.

    Perhaps one day F1 will open up its engine regulations again to allow both full electric and turbo hybrid engines to compete as it was the case in the 70s/80s between turbo and aspirated engine. If history repeats itself, fully electric engines will end up dominating ICEs to be quickly phased out. Not sure if F1 will have the guts for that though.

    1. Technology in its infancy currently proposes powering electric buses and light rail using fast charging and super capacitors. I can see this as a way of extending the range with a return of “refuelling” pitstops. But I reckon formula E would do this before F1.

  11. I voted 11-20, probably closer to 20. I don’t think they ‘should’, but it is probably inevitable. Not because it is cleaner, but because they will be able to produce more power than combustion engines in a power to weight ratio.

    That said, who says pure electric is the future for F1. Why not hydrogen or perhaps another low/zero emission fuel. A lot can happen in 20 years.

    1. Problem with hydrogen is that it takes way more energy (and thus emission) to separate it from existing molecules than what can be saved, so it defeats the point.

      Also hydrogen engines talked about today are just electrical motors anyways, just that they convert the hydrogen fuel to electricity first, as opposed to sourcing the electricity from a battery.

  12. I think never. Why conver F1 to electric when Formula E is already there? The big thing with manufacturers is to try their engines, not the chassis or whatnot so if F1 wants to attract new entrants it’ll have to switch to electric and FE already fits the bill. Imagine the Monaco GPs, the crown jewel in the calendar exactly the same event twice with similar open wheel categories racing… Makes no sense.

    Once ICE engines become too outdated or manufacturers leave, I’d.say just kill off F1… It doesn’t even make sense to merge them…

  13. Since the introduction of the turbo hybrids, which have developed technologies that will never see the road in any meaningful way, I have argued that a regressive engine formula will ultimately be the only path available to F1. Why is it Mazda, a company with no ties to F1, was able to produce a production compression ignition engine before Mercedes-Benz and do it in a volume car?
    Electric cars ultimately are developed by the likes of Samsung SDI, Panasonic, and LG Chem not Mercedes and Porsche. Formula e is nothing but a marketing exercise that gets a little attention from nontraditional automotive outlets and that is why manufacturers are flocking to it. The ROI for a successful F1 campaign is still the greatest value in motorsport due to the eyeballs exciting and emotional racing cars attracts.

    1. Mazda () was able to produce a production compression ignition engine before Mercedes-Benz

      Mazda produced diesel engines in volume before MB?

      1. @coldfly Mercedes makes a diesel F1 engine? I’m obviously talking petrol.

        1. @seanloh Mazda is in F1 at all? I would be more impressed had you talked about Wankel engines :P

      2. Look for the Skyactiv-X SCCI gasoline engine… that’s what he’s talking about

  14. If F1 were to ever go fully electric, it would require a breakthrough in battery technology. What we currently have is simply not good enough for F1 standards. The gen 2 Formula E car has about 1/3 the power of an F1 car yet it requires a 385 kg battery to be able to run a race distance less than half of an F1 race. I don’t see fully electric F1 happening anytime soon.

      1. Battery technology is … just around the corner.
        That was the cry when I was in university …. 40 years ago.
        To put things in perspective, the Lotus Elise tipped the scales at 725 kg. A Tesla Roadster, 1,305 kg. Not the same, but a similar car. About the same weight as my 15 year old Mercedes wagon.
        Heck, you can’t (legally) drive your Tesla Model X over the Brooklyn Bridge.
        Batteries will improve. We are seeing it as we speak. But it will take time to get the capacity up, reduce the weight and manage the cost. Maybe another 40 years.

  15. petebaldwin (@)
    21st April 2019, 13:20

    F1 decides whether it needs to be road relevant or exciting. To me, that means going electric or going back to proper engines. Being stuck in the middle like it is now satisfies no-one except for the few engine manufacturers currently involved in the sport.

    Personally, i’d like F1 to run with proper engines again. I’d even happily go to having one spec engine if that was the only way to achieve this but if F1 wants to continue to run with various manufacturers making engines for the teams to use, electric engines is the future within the next 10 years.

    1. Hybrids aren’t the reason F1 isn’t exciting, but rather basically because you can spend your way to success as well as overly strong aeros.

  16. Yes, when electric motors are proven to be faster over a race distance than combustion engines. As how combustion engines were proven at LeMans 24 hours the time an all electric engine dominates LeMans it is time. With super capacitors they can recharge in pitstops in a minute. This would be marketing gold for electric. The fastest motors should be in F1 so when electric is at that stage its a no brainer.

  17. I voted for never because I don’t think F1 should go electric, but I can definitely imagine a future where it does.

    I think if Formula E starts eclipsing Formula 1, then the FIA will simply merge them and keep the F1 name on whatever the Formula E regs are at the time. I can’t imagine they’ll let it F1 just fall away in relevance compared to FE.

  18. Kinda confused why most people feel it should never change. It absolutely should be prepared to change if it wants to remain at the forefront of technology.

    1. I don’t think it’s that confusing. Keith’s argument against sums up why.

      Formula 1 should shift its focus away from technology and towards producing spectacular racing in dramatic cars, which means sticking with the internal combustion engine

      The question is kind of at the heart of the relevance versus entertainment debate. I’d guess that most people who are for regardless of the timeframe: Think that F1 should remain road relevant. While those who are hard against: Want a return to loud, thrilling engines even at the cost of road relevance.

      It’s pretty close to a 50/50 split which is why I imagine F1 is kind of toeing the line at the moment.

      1. But that’s why “never” is a ridiculous answer, IMHO.

        At some point, electric technology of some kind will overtake ICE technology, and races using it will be more exciting.

        I think this is the mosey important point. Prong precise timescales on it is pointless. If we get a massive advance in energy storage technology tomorrow giving energy density and power-to-weight levels needed, it would be pointless to say “no, wait 10 years”. Similarly, if there hadn’t been a significant advance in 20 years time, saying “ok that’s long enough, go for it” doesn’t cut it either.

        F1 needs to be high tech, high performance and exciting. All three are important. EV tech just isn’t good enough at present, but when it is it would be foolish to ignore it.

        1. Exactly this. I find it hard to understand why people don’t see the inevitabity of electric. I love the ICE – I own a fast ICE powered car and motorbike. I love the noise and smell. I don’t want ICE to go away but I can’t ignore reality – ICE is soon done, the writing is on the wall. Electric will be superior in the not too distant future.

          F1 is partly a engineering competition. If I just wanted to watch loud old tech race around there are already such options. The horse racing analogy doesn’t work – no one watches horse racing. It’s a niche hobby.

          Ideally F1 could open up the engine regs and allow whatever works best. The evolution would then be more natural i.e. manufacturers aren’t going to invest in new V10s. I can see why this won’t happen though.

          Long live fast machines and the people with the balls to drive them – whatever the engine tech.

  19. See David Attenborough re: climate change. F1 will have to change or face extinction.

    1. Climate change…..give me a break. If you people want to give up modern life and go back to horses for 0.1 difference of temperature in 100 years, be my guest, but don’t ruin F1 and don’t try to tell me we have to have governments around the world spend us into oblivion and drive up the costs of, well, everything, to attack this chicken little garbage.

      1. People don’t care about the temperature difference…..they care about the natural disasters causes by them.

      2. Prepare yourself for disappointment because the obsolescence of the ICE is already upon us. No manufacturer will persist with manufacturing them just to please a few dinosaurs. By the middle of the next decade they will be waltzing into the history books where they belong, forever! I find this prospect thrilling!

      3. Well not 0.1 degrees in 100 years but +4.5 degrees worldwide which means like +40 degrees locally for days or even a couple of weeks. Acclimatized buildings will seemingly spontaneously combust. Whole regions of the country will be up in flames smothering hundreds of thousands because it’s too far to travel to get beyond the smoke. Crops? What crops I’m staying inside. If the power goes out a million die in their beds from heatstroke within a few days. And that’s just the summer. The flooding and the wind in the shoulder seasons? Forget about it. Not fantasy. Its physics.

        You look up in the sky and it seems almost infinite. But in reality it’s just a thin mist hugging the rocks. It’s like plate glass with black behind it. A mirror with the end no further away than the nearest airport. Look around you, what do you see? I’ve travelled almost as much as these formula 1 guys and what you see outside. It’s everywhere.

        I get it that every past doomy proclamation was BS, but this? The Academy of Science in every country has got to be for something right? It’s supposed to advise you. We hear things we don’t have the background to analyze and we dismiss and junk it. I know that faith in authorities has been a letdown because of abuse. But there were people in your school that didn’t go on to do other things like you. They only did study and figuring. Many of them in their own way were simple and timid people and not theatrical. Not the kind to make up Henny Penny stories.

    2. All the oil and coal that’s currently buried under the ground was at one time on the surface. Fossils show earth was covered with life from the equator to the poles, e.g. there were forests in the Antarctic. The environment was good enough for plants and animals to survive from the equator to the poles at that time. So why shouldn’t restoring that carbon to its rightful place be a good thing?

      1. @drycrust Because it wasn’t human life, and humans are not necessarily able to live in some of the conditions that were around at that time (especially near the equator).

    3. Attenborough’s climate programme was a virtually fact free propaganda exercise. Deeply misguided and even had some ‘true believer’ friends of mine burying their head in their hands with embarrassment

      1. Your comment is fact free and misguided. Ignorant would be another word for it.

  20. Magnus Rubensson (@)
    21st April 2019, 14:13

    Apparently many New York taxis were electric back around the year 1900.
    The electric “Baker Torpedo” reached 80mph in 1902.

    Nothing new under the sun.

  21. I’ve put my opinion about the future of not just F1 but Motor Racing in general out there a few times. I will not put a time on how much longer the ICE will continue to dominate the sport. I know it must change and there is nothing to stop it. The time table for the life of ICE has pretty much been set now by government and the manufacturers, so it’s a ticking clock.
    For me at least, just changing the label on a electric car and calling it F1 would be yet another cynical marketing exercise.

  22. It won’t have a choice, F1 will stubbornly die a death due to not adapting with the times, not providing great racing and not allowing for a healthy environment for teams.

    Within the next ten years, I can see F1 on its last legs and FE will genuinely be the more exciting series to the masses. (FE is already the better series but its still gaining a fan base)

    1. “FE is already the better series…”
      Pity you added that rider because it makes a mockery of your ability to offer objective intelligent comments… lol.

      1. F1 is a snorefest compared with FE. The choice between close, competitive racing or some needlessly expensive, admittedly very fast cars driving around nowhere near each other is an easy one. FE is steadily getting more credibility whilst F1 steadily naval gazes itself into irrelevance.

  23. it comes down to one thing, evidently; will there be manufactures willing to invest money into building technology to showcase the ability of their enterprise. Are motorsports a reflection of our shared love of PETROL sport, or is it a business model that melds entertainment with business goals. I understand people may want to watch F1……but what are the incentives for manufacturers. if you cant get this, then do you really understand what f1 is? its not a race…….its a technology competition. If the tech in the race isn’t relevant to the business, then bye bye race. that simple.

  24. Emissions taxes are pushing more car buyers towards alternatives to petrol and diesel.

    Maybe for some. But my next car will be electric not because of taxes (haven’t even checked) or costs (I think they are still more expensive), but because of the environment and the impressive (quiet and ‘torqy’) driving experience.

    1. The current tax exemptions for electric cars are more of an anomaly, in the long term governments will come up with ways to tax electric cars.

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        23rd April 2019, 9:08

        No doubt. As soon as everyone has bought electric cars, then “new taxes” on electricity will kick in and electricity will cost 10 times what it costs now. Compare with petrol price today – most of the petrol price is “tax”.

        And what if the next-next generation (the one being born right now) starts believing that electricity is more dangerous than (gasp!) CO2 and develops a new Anti-Electricity Religion, to protest against today’s CO2-Climate Religion? Oooh… taxes on electricity will skyrocket… :)

        In the meantime I’ll watch another re-run of Fangio at Nurburgring in 1957 while I still have electricity in the wall.
        And I’m keeping my 18-year old PETROL car. It just passed the MOT for another year, woop woop!

        1. “new taxes” on electricity will kick in and electricity will cost 10 times what it costs now.

          At least everybody can generate energy for free at home with a potato and bit of copper and zinc ;)

  25. HansieSlim (@)
    21st April 2019, 14:40

    Never……. a significant portion of the entertainment in F1 and other racing series’ lies in the fact that it uses internal combustion engines with the sound that goes with that.

    If you remove that then in my view, you would rip out the heart of motor racing. It may still live on in another form but it will not be F1 and should not be called F1.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      21st April 2019, 18:32

      They’ve already done that to F1 in my opinion. I prefer the sound of Formula E to the current generation of F1…

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        23rd April 2019, 9:12

        Let me remind everyone of the 2004 F1 sound: :)

  26. If i had my way, I’d say open up the regulations and allow for different blends of gas/electric power and let the teams work it out for themselves when the technology is ready. Maybe allow larger batteries & stronger electric motors in exchange for more restricted ICE and less fuel. I’m fine with electric power, i just don’t think the technology is ready yet (for the batteries, electric motors are great).

    To be fair though, if i really had my way, the F1 regulations would be a maximum length and width and safety for the driver.

  27. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    21st April 2019, 14:50

    As long as F1 can fill grandstands which most grandprixs they do, and as long as sponsors and teams pour money into the sport with whatever rules they have to abide by, what’s the rush to go full electric? F1 is a show and I understand completely that to stay relevant they need to keep up to the times but I bet if they went to V12s with a stick shift they would still fill the grandstands. To me F1 is about the racing and the show. I could care less about electric technology.

  28. when technology has advanced to such a level where Power units can produce 1500+ bhp for 2+hrs and not cause the weight of the car to exceed 800kg………..that is when F1 has to go electric.

  29. I cannot see it happening in my lifetime. Formula e is just brutal to watch. I tried. I really tried. I just found it so uninteresting and very very boring. Formula One would gove itself another death blow going that direction. I will always have gas in my Cup cars.

    FWIW, I love horse racing weather I gamble on it or (more often) not. Take Omaha Beach in the Derby if he draws a good post position and the track is wet. Otherwise, go with one of the Baffert trio.

    1. I cannot see it happening in my lifetime.

      Sorry to hear that; let’s hope doctors come up with a cure soon :P

  30. F1 should either go unlimited electric, and let all of that money benefit the world researching better motors and batteries, recovery…

    … or embrace anachronism like every other sport on the planet. Wood baseball bats, leather balls, 3l NA V10.

    Sitting on the fence has been propaganda to keep the status quo in front, to prevent cheap options from PURE, Cosworth et al from upsetting things.

  31. At some point in the future there will be a crossover point when electric exceeds the performance of current f1 engines and becomes the premier motorsport. current f1 manufacturers should already be in FE by this point. Mercedes and Renault already are. I’d like there to be a merge of FE and F1 if possible to ensure the F1 history doesn’t get lost. Extreme Long term, the fuel needed for F1 cars will disappear. They either go electric or fold the championship.

  32. I believe EV cars are the future. Tesla will be releasing the worlds fastest road car in 2020 with a 600 mile range!
    Elon musk says this will be the final nail in the coffin of ice cars. But i think its already happening with clean air zones popping up all over the UK in the next few years and all the big manufacturers getting on board. The technology is improving rapidly and vehicle prices are coming down. I recently watched a video comparing hydrogen etc as alternatives to batteries but it didn’t come anywhere near the efficiency after extraction and transportation etc
    Will f1 become a series where the best drivers compete using old technology? I doubt it.

  33. you’re forgetting hydrogen fuel cell – electric and low weight high performance. Also extremely expensive currently so perfect for f1. Mercedes and others still believe this is the future of cars and battery electric is just a stop gap.

  34. I would say sooner. It would take F1 back to a time when there was completely open development and innovation. F1 is now pretty much about small refinements. I am assuming the speed would be much slower for awhile and F1 teams would be open to fully develop their cars again. The way F1 is now it might as well be a spec series. The laptimes are too close now and the cars are too similar. The incredibly bad Williams is only something like 3 seconds off the front of the field. I have seen spec races with bigger gaps than this.

  35. I voted for Never although I thought a bit of going for 11-20 as well.

  36. A few comments here saying F1 shouldn’t go electric but should go Hydrogen.

    Hydrogen IS electric.

    1. True, but I think when most people are thinking of electric they’re thinking of batteries. Direct production electric energy of some sort is a much better technology than anything with batteries.

  37. F1oSaurus (@)
    21st April 2019, 17:58

    Formula E has a an exclusive license on 100% electric racing until 2039. So F1 going fully electric is not going to happen anytime soon.

    1. Exclusively with the FIA. However, anyone can start an electric series that’s not sanctioned by the FIA.

    2. F1 will just buy FE, FE will be rebadged F1 and FE will no longer be a brand but F1 will be fully electric.its inevitable.

  38. I would say never until the full electric mode should provide performance and sound as we know…Is it even possible?

    1. electric mode should provide performance and sound as we know…Is it even possible?

      performance is easy for short sprints
      sound is even easier; more than 99% of fans have only heard the electrically reproduced version anyway (more even for the V10 & V12 versions).

  39. Cristiano Ferreira
    21st April 2019, 18:15

    Formula E is a crappy tournament and as such should serve as a “cannon fodder” for development of the electric engines until F1 could heap the benefits of it.

    Electric engines are not yet suitable for enjoyable races. Imagine F1 Racing at SPA with those engines now? I dont imagine it going beyond 10 or 15 laps. So its not going to happen until 2030 i think. Hybrids are the way to go until then.

  40. One has to understand that the high pitch sound is very important when experiencing speed, power and acceleration. Without the noise 70 % of the experience is gone. Sure, it can go electric, but it will have less than 10 % of the viewers it has now. Simulated sound would just be plain ridiculous.

    1. I was just about to write that so I agree completely. Only witnessed 1 formula race myself and that was a Superprix (formula 3000) in Birmingham. The noise was incredible as we walked towards the track it really was like nothing on earth. Something gutteral and other worldly I will never forget. Even playing Scalextric we used to make the weee and weeooohh noises ourselves to offset the sterile electric sound.

      1. @melthom @sloppysmusic

        Well until F1 fills those empty seats the TV producer fails to hide at almost every circuit, then the noise issue is irrelevant.
        Also we live in an increasingly stressfull and noisier world, it’s possible more peacful sports will still sell tickets. I’m not into cycling myself, but it’s an obession and even considered national sport for certain countries and I doubt would be improved if the bicycles sounded like growling animals.

        F1 is a bigger business than trying to satisfy your childhood ‘vroom vroom’ noises. Ultimately all other lower formulas will race the cheapest option and the drivers the fastest option. You’ll see this as soon as electric MX bikes become competitive. And possibly Karting too. Kart racers dont give two hoots about the noise when they’re spending tens of thousands trying to get an extra 100th out of a motor.

    2. @melthom Formula E already manages more than 10% of the audience F1 gets, at least in the UK. Formula E’s UK audience floats between 350,000 and 550,000 depending on the time of year (it tends to lose audience as the season progresses) while Formula 1 is between 3,000,000 and 4,500,000. If FE’s audience was failing to hit 10% of F1’s, the F1 numbers would have to be between 3,500,000 and 5,500,000.

      Both series could do better in a number of aspects to get more audience. However, there are definitely people who like Formula E’s approach, albeit not currently a number for which F1 would trade places.

      1. F1 should move to methanol and they wouldn’t have any problem with combustion engines anymore.

  41. Why is the only alternative offered electric? I don’t understand why people think electric power is the only way forward.
    Those supporting electric power often point to it as being the environmentally friendly option, however where I live, electricity is at least in part generated by mining and burning coal and Lithium mining is anything but environmentally friendly. Without resolving fundamental things like that, the concept of wide spread electric car use will always will be problematic. And that’s without considering the cost that would be incurred to make the use of electric vehicles convenient.
    If petrol based fuels are to be replaced, it would have to be something that can be produced in an environmentally friendly or neutral manner, sustainable, convenient to use and cheap/easy to convert to.

    1. @velocityboy

      If petrol based fuels are to be replaced, it would have to be something that can be produced in an environmentally friendly or neutral manner, sustainable

      Oil wont last forever though. Even if you take away the green aspect, electric motors are far more effecient and will be powered by whatever humans come up with. People seem to forget electric motors are everywhere producing unrivaled torque. Even with America’s dirty grid that helped manufacturers make the computer chips we all rely on to post here, EVs return the equivalent of 75 – 100+ MPG and improve local air quality.

      1. Big Joe, I’m thinking that something along the lines of CO2 fuel created by pulling it out of the atmosphere will ultimately be the path that’s taken. Apparently it can be created now and used without modifying current engines. Something like that could be delivered from existing gas stations and used in existing cars, which is where the convenience aspect comes in.

        1. You should read a book called The Methanol Economy by George Olah (Nobel prize in chemistry). The premise is that hydrogen is a no go for direct production electric engines as its too explosive and hard to store and transport, and has a much lower energy density so you only get half the distance for a tank. Using methanol instead which can be made from CO2 pulled from the atmosphere you can power a similar electric motor with a much friendlier to transport using existing road tanker and pump station networks. A lot of ICE vehicles can be converted to run on methanol from standard so it’d be a much more seamless switch for the consumer.

          Regards your point about electric not being clean, the grid is much simpler to clean up than the exhaust pipe. It’s possible to fit coal burning stations with carbon capture systems where weight/size is of no concern and cost can be large (although this isn’t ideal), the grid can be shifted over to nuclear and renewable cleaning up all the vehicles as it goes whereas getting consumers to buy into new technology which is costly and makes their lives harder is not going to happen.

        2. I’m thinking that something along the lines of CO2 fuel created by pulling it out of the atmosphere will ultimately be the path that’s taken.

          Coal, oil, gas are all carbon fuels created by pulling CO2 from the atmosphere. The problem that it takes thousands of years to transform CO2 in those carbon carriers.

  42. I would love to see a racing series with fuel cells, swappable hydrogen tanks, electric motors driving all four wheels and modern, adaptive suspension.

    I think we’re 10-15 years away from that, though, at a minimum.

    I think the current hybrid format (or something like it) is a good direction for F1… for now.

  43. I have an idea… maybe a dream. Why not open the regulations and that the teams could decide which type of power unit they want?.

    Like formerly when you can try between aspirated 3.5L engines and 1.5L turbos (if I remember correctly). That formula was very advantageous for the aspirated engines in the beginning, but when some teams set out to investigate and develop the turbos, they managed to surpass the performance of the aspirates. I think to try to replicate that formula, making a regulation that is advantageous for the petrol engines but leaving a space for electric innovation is a (expensive) good idea.

  44. Imagine if Formula E became faster than F1 on the same circuits and distances. That would be embarrassing. F1 should retain the fastest technology no matter what.

    1. @mattb

      We’re going to see grass roots change drastically. They will be looking at cheapest options as ever and soon we’ll see Electric Karts and Dirt bikes, then single seaters (these formula’s currently cost a fortune with promises the move to 4-strokes would be cheaper, and it wasnt) .
      They will also be allowed to race all hours due to the quietier motors which means more people can take part, thus more money into grass roots. I imagine we’ll all be able to have a go in electric single seaters for reasonable money. At least the petrol heads and people needing ‘vroom vroom’ noises wont be in the queues.

      If anyone wonders what’s going on outside of electric cars, look up the ‘Sur-Ron’ electric bike. A big following in such a short space of time, that could create a new motorsport that sits between mountain biking and motocross.

      1. Some arrive-and-drive karting venues already have all-electric kart fleets (I remember racing at one in Birmingham back in 2009 and 2010, and it’s doing well for itself). Indoor karting is becoming increasingly popular, is possible at the same price point as ICE, and it’s far easier to make electric karts work in an indoor space than petrol ones due to air quality.

      2. Good point regarding MX, it’s not my sport but I understand a lot of venues are only allowed to open one Sunday a month due to noise restrictions/neighbours, the electric MX bike would make that a non-issue.

        I’m primarily a mountain biker and the ebike revolution has taken most of us by surprise. What was jokingly laughed at as a niche, expensive, lazy man’s sport has become very popular, very fast and in the commuting realm looks like it’s going to be the norm rather than the exception pretty soon.

        1. I bought an e-bike conversion for a temporary health problem that was leaving me a bit stir-crazy not getting out on the ‘manual’ version. It’s brilliant and though health-wise I’m mended now, I wouldn’t part with the e-bike for short journeys where I don’t want to arrive sweaty or try and find a space to park.

          It’s all about energy density again. A lithium battery beats all but competitive cyclists hands down for power and endurance, but it’s no substitute for a full ICE.

    2. Never mind Formula E – an electric touring car would already leave an F1 car standing off the grid and would max out at the same top speed…..the problem AT THE MOMENT is duration. The new third generation batteries already make petrol look obsolete.

  45. @gpfacts

    Nobody ever talks about what will happen to all those spent batteries, either. So, we are likely to just dump it somewhere in Africa or Indonesia

    Open your ears then.
    Car lithium batteries are in high demand for a second life in power stations, they are almost a commodity. So that’s minimum 20 years life. With technology in the labs doubling capacity. The lithium is extracted from batteries to use in certain manufacturing processes.
    The ‘dump’ from EV batteries will be less an impact on the wrappers in the food you eat.
    I would worry more about food and water supply than EV problems. Many people on mainland europe are dumping cars altogther for E-bikes. There’s a massive demand that can’t be met.

  46. I think it is inevitable that the highest open wheel single seater class will become electric.
    Until then, with the manufacturers chasing road relevance leaving for Formula E, Formula 1 can go back to garagistas with natural aspirated ICE’s
    After 10 years or so it will be awfully outdated, but at least we had some fun while it lasted…

  47. Where’s the F1 racing DNA brigade? Doesn’t this argument pop up whenever any change to F1 is discussed? Sad! LOL

  48. Maybe Hydrogen powered electric vehicles could be a way forward. This technology is considered by many top car manufacturers as one viable alternative for future zero- emission mobility. See e.g. Hydrogen power supply (tank + fuel cell) is much lighter than equal capacity battery pack. Just imagine F1 car with instantaneous torque delivery that electric motors provide.

    1. There are significant issues with a compressed/liquid hydrogen fuel tank on board a racing car. Petrol is flammable, that would be explosive. The calorific density is also about half that of most hydrocarbons so double the amount of fuel required on board to complete a given distance at a set efficiency.

    2. Hydrogen power supply (tank + fuel cell) is much lighter than equal capacity battery pack.

      It might be lighter, but it has much more volume (multiples).
      And the more you compress it the heavier the container becomes, and the more dangerous as mentioned by @grandmasterorge.

  49. Surely the slate gets wiped clean when the majority ofl EU countries have banned the sale of ICE cars?

    So Formula E then becomes Formula 1.

    Britain is the most car centric country in Europe and also the most behind the times country and they’ve vowed to ban ICE cars from 2040. I reckon 10 years (2030) for the EU is more likely. More and more scandals are coming out from the che@ting German manufacturers. Mercedes price fixing products, price fixing resources, running a cartel limiting greener technology, then the emissions cheating. The EU will punish them badly.

    1. Germany buys over a million new cars a year than the UK, whatever the future is, Germany will be leading it.

      1. Two years ago, Germany agreed to a plan to ban fossil-fuel-based cars by 2030, though this is highly controversial due to the number of German jobs that are in the fossil-fuel car industry. Consider the direction of travel set…

  50. John Toad (@)
    21st April 2019, 20:58

    As I understand it FE has an an exclusive license for electric racing until 2039.
    So the logical answer is at least 20 years.
    However if in 20 years time FE is still slower and has shorter endurance than F1 the answer is more likely to be never.

    1. As I understand it FE has an an exclusive license for electric racing until 2039

      Yeah, with the FIA. Anyone can start an electric series, it just won’t be sanctioned by the FIA.

      1. @SteveR Which means it can’t run in the EU due to an agreement in 2001 (the same one that prevents the FIA from handling F1’s commercial matters, and Liberty from unilaterally creating new regulations).

  51. Interesting topic….if F1 goes electric, it will not be F1, as Formula E, which seem more dodgem cars than race cars at this time is the only permitted electric formula. But 2 observations..F1 is American controlled and I suspect it will be a long time before that country cuts out petrol (despite them having Tesla)…also how long before we get climate protestors glueing themselves to the Silverstone track before the race…..or putting a pink boat on it lol

  52. A hybrid formula is the best of both worlds. Leave the size and weight of the battery the same and just follow the natural trend of 5-10% battery improvement a year and see where it takes you.

    present ———————————-> future
    low capacity of battery higher capacity battery
    10% electric hybrid 50% electric hybrid

  53. F1 should go fully electric around the same time they get rid of the drivers and race self-driving cars. The same arguments apply.

  54. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    21st April 2019, 21:35

    Formula E has always seemed to me like a testbed for speeding up the inevitable future F1 leap to electric power.
    Once electric engines are capable of going round Spa for an hour and a half at a pace of say 2 and a half minutes per lap, in an F1 chassis, it would be a no brainer to make the switch, and start chasing down the old ICE times year-on-year.
    I for one welcome our new electric overlords. I want F-Zero not royal tennis.

  55. For me it’s quite simple – I love F1 because it’s the fastest series (in terms of lap time not necessarily top speeds). So as long as it remains the fastest then F1 can choose what engines to run, but as soon as an electric series becomes faster, it has no choice but to follow suit or become the 2nd/3rd fastest series and lose its big advantage over at other racing

  56. The option missing from this was the “When it’s faster” option. Formula one has always been the fastest series and as soon as you nail the weight problem with energy storage there’s the real possibility they’re going to be faster. I don’t want a series that isn’t the fastest because people want to hold onto the memories of yesteryear. I want the fastest most high tech series possible and if formula one doesn’t do it, someone else will and once it’s faster I’ll watch that series instead. There is a time limit on the combustion engine from a performance evolution standpoint, and once that is maxed out it’s time to move on.

  57. Electric and ICE cars started out within 5 years of each other in the late 1800’s. There was a clear winner in the ICE because of energy density.

    Sure the Lithium battery has improved things but only for vehicles where the existing power/weight/endurance is already poor. The best example of this is the electric bicycle. Go from average human at 100W for four hours, if you’re reasonably fit, to an additional 250W for four hours. That’s a 250% improvement for a max 10% overall weight penalty. Perfect.

    Any ICE powered vehicle will be degraded by going electric, that won’t change until the Unicorn 7x more energy dense battery hits the market, and there’s no sign of it yet.

  58. It’s not more complicated than to swap batteries during pit-stops……

    1. @khm A 270 hp Formula E car with can run an 80 km race on a single battery. Let’s say a 1000 hp F1 car could run 50 km on the same battery. That would mean five battery changes during a race. Each of those batteries weights 385 kg, you don’t just swap a battery like that in a few seconds.

  59. Never, but unlike (I expect) most who choose that option, I don’t want them to stay with ICEs forever, either. I think F1 should leapfrog past FE and go for the next generation of technology–hydrogen, or whatever else that turns out to be. Leave the dead-end electric technology for Formula E.

  60. I think F1 should introduce rules, as soon as possible, that ALLOWS fully electric drive but does not mandate it. Don’t force a specifik power unit layout upon the design teams. That way F1 will go electric whenever teams figure out how to make electric cars faster than combustion or hybrid solutions. F1 is about pushing the limits of technology, isn’t it? Just let the fastest way win.

  61. Basically I think the metric should be producing the fastest car. If that means fully electric some day, Formula 1 should shift to fully electric. I voted for a 6-10 year time span on that basis, but possibly too early still.

  62. I voted never to have pure electric F1. Many reasons:
    1. The ridiculous spectacle of Formula E, where Dario struggles to generate enthusiasm for the slow, whirring cars, on narrow, short, kart-type tracks, with deliberate difficulty in overtaking…. I only watch to support Mitch Evan, fellow Kiwi – congrats on your first win!
    2. The sooner that large manufacturers are eliminated from the current position of dominant power in F1, the better. What Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull want, they get.
    3. Maybe with these manufacturers eliminated, we can see real racing as in Indycars. What I want to see in F1, or any class of racing, is to have a dozen or so entries, all with a chance of winning.
    4. Also, without these manufacturers involved, we would have more entries, lower costs, and more equality and chance of winning for more teams. Many GP2 / F2 teams would jump in, and perhaps we could have 25+ cars running in GPs?
    5. While we don’t need a standard car as in Indycars or F2, much more standardised components – complete transaxle, electronics, front and rear wings – would greatly reduce costs.
    6. This would achieve the close fields and racing that is Formula E’s best, and only selling point for me.

    1. formula 1 is not about standard cars. that has traditionally been Indy cars, NASCAR, F2, etc.
      F1 for me is all about being the best within a broad guideline. may the smartest team win. sometimes teams are smart because they are rich, other times because they are just smart (Force India)

  63. I would like to think never, but, in doing so, I feel it would end F1 and move it more into an historical type of racing. Car manufacturers are scheduled to stop ICE based cars by 2042, which would undoubtedly end F1 then as very little could be looked at as being road linked.

    I feel that F1 should make the step within the next 5-10 years in order to stay alive. As has been mentioned FE has a growing fan base and also growing in team numbers. Electric power aside, the other main difference between F1 and FE is that FE is a spec series, whereas F1 could be more versatile in development areas (battery, aero, speed, etc)…

  64. Battery tech isn’t there yet, but it will be. When they can design an electric car to go faster than an ICE Formula 1 car in a 305 Km race, it will reach its own conclusion. Perhaps open the formula so that full electric can compete with ICE. I’d say 10 years, at the current rate of progress with battery tech. Whether F1 will still have an audience by then is another matter.

  65. If F1 survives (and I still thi k that is a big if), I expect it to end up being led by where the manufacturers take their PU technology.

    It seems at the moment that they all are heading down the EV route so that will be where the PU component of F1 will have to go.

    Sadly that will mean shorter races, no noise, and generally much poorer racing for those of us that have been watching for years. The ADHD “quick grab” brigade will be delighted and some of us might try to keep the faith but it won’t come close to what we currently have as a F1 experience.

    Pretty much matches what certain marketing people have been asking for – short races. More “show” so I don’t think they’ll be fighting electric all that hard.

  66. Out of interest are there any substantiated figures on how much more environmentally friendly EVs actually are?

    1. @stjs16

      racing people wont care less as they’re more powerful and cheaper to maintain. It’s a matter of waiting for EVs to carry enough capacity to suit long races. They’re going to be awesome for off road vehicles on shorter tracks. Electric bikes are already seeing more use/opening opportunities due to their quieter operation.

  67. I think F1 will eventually go fully-electric, one way or the other, simply because in theory that’s more efficient than ICE. However, I think it will be in stages, and not all in one go, and movement is likely to be dictated as much by when electric can demonstrate its theoretical advantages in a practical competitive setting (as currently is not the case in Formula E due to various pragmatic obstacles that science hasn’t resolved yet) rather than outside matters such as manufacturer enthusiasm or the way the world is changing.

    I’m thinking it will be 10-30 years, with most likelihood of it being around 2035 for the complete solution to be deployed. By that time, a lot greater proportion of cars will also be electric, and most other racing series for new cars will also have become all-electric or electric-first hybrid, which along with the graduated inclusion of electrical energy, is something I anticipate will ease the acceptance of the all-electric format into F1.

    1. Paranthetically, a way I can think of to help things out would be to say in the next set of regulations: “All cars must use electric power in the pitlane and the reconnaisance lap(s) between pit and grid. Any use teams can make of this to augment their ICE in competitive sessions proper will be permitted”. This is largely a solved problem (Le Mans has these rules for pitlane running for LMP1-Hybrid cars), is not a huge change from the current hybrid engine format, but also allows for creativity for those manufacturers who wish to investigate it. It would also allow a realistic idea of what reasonable transition between all-ICE and all-electric would look like.

  68. F1 cars are sponsored by petrol companies, energy drinks companies (some that seem to be made up) and an assortment of companies that once might have adorned British Touring Cars and would never afford F1. F1 is already irelavent to manufacturers, sponsors and most younger fan if it isn’t electric within a decade it will be dead.Manufacturers want a cutting edge development platform, sponsors want to be associated with eco-solutions not causes of the problem and younger fans just dont see screaming engines and smoke as the future, they see it as history. I have been an F1 fan since 1970 but it has to change……if only the dinosaurs of my generation could see the excitement of the next era of the car and stop dreaming of a bygone age. If the proportion of F1 fans who want to keep F1 fully petrol are any indication of the true fanbase then Liberty,should see up immediately.

    1. @machinesteve

      Marketing of products will decide. Petrol and ‘vroom vroom’ heads will have to watch a future F1 as a spec series. There will be no money in it.

  69. I’d argue F1 can do without electric vehicles. Since Formula E has battery powered electric vehicles covered, F1 should push for the development of hydrogen technologies just like WEC is doing.

    Hydrogen has some issues, such as lack of infrastructure and it is rather tricky to obtain. But F1 could become the place where to develop that infrastructure.

    At the end of the day, Hydrogen is extremely abundant, doesn’t harm the environment unlike batteries and it can be used in ICE

  70. Formula one should be the Pinnacle of “ground based” racing, fastest, most advanced. Don’t mind how or what they use to be fast. Should never become a spec series imho.

    If in 50 years it resembles Wipeout, why not.

  71. Good to comment on: in its current form formula one is not true to being the fastest it can be. The weight needed for batteries is lost as potential for pure speed by fuel means. So hybrid atm ,although nice engineering and complicated etc, is a gymmick due to “wishes of the car companies”. It’s not the fastest it can be by pure engineering capabilities based on a petrol engine. So in that sense we strayed from the path, politics happened..

    1. Incorrect. Electric motors provides far more low speed torque than any ICE, which why current F1 cars lap faster than any previous ICE-only F1, even though aero downforce is now much lower than before. Not politics at all, it’s how you make ICE cars faster. See the Porsche 918 hybrid; fastest accelerating Porsche road car (2.2 secs to 60 mph) even with heavy batteries.

  72. NeverElectric
    22nd April 2019, 20:54

    Wonder what will happen to the World Rally Championship, which is never covered on Racefans…?
    Electric engines there? hah!
    That’ll be the day.

  73. Why isn’t there a 2-3 year option? 5 years is pointlessly too long.

    The internal combustion engine has always been part of F1 car design. There isn’t an alternative at present which would allow F1 cars to compete over current distances at comparable speeds.

    The fist part is irrelevant the second is just plain wrong. You’d need some form of a fuel cell to provide energy for the whole race, besides some batteries and preferably also super capacitors. Direct carbon fuel-cells would be best, but if all else fails there’s still hydrogen, which definitely works.
    No need for five years to find suppliers to develop F1 level products.
    All of it would be improved by regen-only braking (implies 4WD) with super-capacitors would also recover a lot of the energy. Electromechanical active suspensions could also recover some of the lost energy. A low drag formula (chassis only downforce with no separate wings on winglets and nonsense that current cars have) would help even more than the previous two together.

    If they’d clamp down on pointless aero developments and without the morbidly costly hybrid PUs we now have, they’d have more than ample amounts of money to pay for this.

  74. Races would have to become shorter or slower; or more likely a combination of both.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong! Take your blinders off, batteries are not the only power source to electric cars.

  75. We should make everyone stand-up and repeat out-loud … Hydrogen is not a fuel. It is an electric energy storage chemical, and a lousy one at that. It takes energy to separate it from Oxygen, it is expensive to compress or liquefy, it has really lousy energy density and storage has its own issues. Conversion back to electricity is poor at best, even with fuel cells.
    For those that want to combine CO2 with H2 to make a liquid fuel, you will be happy to know that it is planned to be done right here on the West Coast of Canada. It has it’s roots in rocket science. Just read The Martian or watch The Mars Underground video, . It answers all the questions. And yes, hydrogen is the key. My suggestion is watch the video then read the book. Awesome stuff. Especially the opening line in the book.

  76. only when there is a true alternative with equal or better power & speed & going the distance,fuel storage,closer racing, cleaner, quicker,excitementt etc then should f1 change. until then why change? the world has been here for what ? 15 billion years… im testament to that. life o this planet also for aloooooong time. all the fossil fuel burning wont stop that. its more like an itch after a mozzie bites u. its irritating, annoying sometimes even alittle painful at worst. yes some die from malaria but himan population has not reduced significantly by it yet has it.

  77. Good lord. You want electricity? Go watch Formula E for heaven’s sake.

  78. I… I could never imagine watching a F1 race without the spectacular engine sounds :P No offense but I wouldn’t want to hear a pathetic whining going past me at 200mph. No thank you.

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