Electric racing won’t replace F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport – Liberty

2019 F1 season

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Electric racing is unlikely to replace Formula 1 as the pinnacle of motorsport, according to the sport’s commercial rights holder.

Speaking in a Liberty Media Corporation investor meeting last week, president and CEO Greg Maffei case doubt on whether an all-electric championship such as Formula E could rival F1. However he indicated they may be interested in running an electric series in the future.

“Would we like an electric series at some point? Sure,” said Maffei. “We run F2, we run F3, we run different series at our sites.”

However he believes “the pinnacle of motorsport is unlikely to change from Formula 1.”

“Could we see over time new forms of fuels? I think it’s more likely that’s what you see than, frankly, electric,” he added.

Formula 1 recently revealed details of a new sustainability strategy under which it aims to become carbon neutral by 2030. This will involve creating the “world’s first net zero-carbon hybrid internal combustion engine” and using advanced fuels to slash emissions.

Maffei believes there is a lot of “hype” around electric vehicles at the moment.

“I think there’s EV hype,” he said. “There was autonomous vehicle hype – I’m a Tesla driver, they have great utility in certain circumstances, [but] I do not believe they’re going to solve every situation.

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“And I don’t think they’re going to displace other forms of combustion. Maybe different biofuels, but I don’t think it’s going to replace that kind of engine anytime soon.

[icon2019autocoursempu]”Would we love to integrate all these series? Sure, at the right price. So far, it’s not clear that’s a real business yet. It’s been a great promotion for certain sponsors, it’s been a nice testing ground for certain OEMs, but it really hasn’t proven that it’s a great business yet, would be our argument.”

Formula E, which began its 2019-2020 season last weekend, is owned by Liberty Global, which is separate from Liberty Media. However Liberty Media chairman John Malone is also a director of Liberty Global.

Mercedes and Porsche have entered works teams in Formula E for the first time this year, joining Audi, BMW, Nissan, Jaguar and DS. Meanwhile Formula 1’s manufacturer contingent numbers just four.

Among those, Renault has recently revealed it is considering its future in F1. “Renault has probably had less on-track success than they would have liked,” Maffei acknowledged. “[And] Renault has obviously gone through some corporate-level issues unrelated to Formula 1 which may be affecting that.

“Obviously they’ve announced a strategic review, that’s logical given all the things that are going on at Renault.”

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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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24 comments on “Electric racing won’t replace F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport – Liberty”

  1. Mercedes and Porsche have entered works teams in Formula E for the first time this year, joining Audi, BMW, Nissan, Jaguar and DS.

    I guess one question that needs to be asked is what attracts a car manufacturer to Formula E in preference to Formula 1. My guess is FE costs less, but I don’t think that is the only answer.

    1. @drycrust Electric technology is maturing quickly. Tesla is showing that being first in has given them an edge. I think most companies have realised they risk becoming irrelevant, especially as solid state batteries are nearing commercial release (iirc up to 10x energy density for similar $, weight, size). If electric doesn’t become the benchmark, they lose very little.

      1. And don’t forget the motors are massively less complicated – and lighter.
        10kW per kg is already easily achievable, so an equivalent amount power from 100% electric would save at least 70kg.
        Add in the greater energy efficiency, and something more to be gained on regenerative braking, and considerably less drag, and the batteries don’t have to get close to the energy density of petroleum.

        1. So, considering there seems to be advantages, I guess F1 should then start adjusting it’s rules so teams can utilise this technology if they want to, e.g. trading off fuel tank capacity (weight for weight) for a bigger battery. If it were to a teams advantage then they’d soon be using it. If by chance all the teams went to electric then I guess F1 would have an argument with the FIA over being another electric racing car series, but until that happens there won’t be much FE can do.

    2. Lower cost is an entirely sufficient explanation. A season in FE costs nothing, on the scale of car companies’ marketing; a season in F1 is expensive even on that scale.

  2. Famous last words.

  3. For once – I totally agree.

    FE is a fake joke of a sport. And modern “electric” vehicles are hyped to stratosphere, despite being almost as far from “green” as ICE cars. In some cases it is even worse – because they are powered by Coal. Welcome all the way back to 1800!

    1. @dallein it’s not a matter of being green or ecology. If you think that’s the point, you’re looking at the wrong side of things.
      The point is that for a championship to exist you need teams. Teams are constructors. Constructors will go where their customers are going. The moment (and the momentum is already keeping up) people switch to electric (whatever the reason), there will be near to zero interest for constructors to stick to petrol.

      Look at what happened with music or movies. Revolutions happen because of the people, they can’t be stopped by companies.

    2. You have to bias studies quite a bit to conclude that electric cars are worse than ice, but you can if you try. Yes in some countries fossil fuels are used for the energy that supply the electricity but increasingly electrical grids everywhere are becoming more sustainably based. Electric cars last much longer too with many fleets having tesla with 500k miles on the clock where they replaced their ice by 150 miles due to cars failing. Batteries usually get a second life as well for storage so their life is 20-30 years before being recycled. It’s still a newish market, it will only become more efficient with time.

    3. @dallein Car racing is a joke. The driver isn’t doing anything, just stepping on a pedal; unlike the true man handling required for horse racing.

      Cars are a fad. Where are you even going to get gasoline from? No where sells it. Horses just need grass and water and you’re golden.


      See the parallels?

  4. John Toad (@)
    28th November 2019, 9:10

    If and when FE can:
    Run for the same distance as F1
    Run at the same speeds as F1
    Run on full F1 tracks
    Then FE may be a rival to F1, until then it simply isn’t

    1. @ceevee Utterly agree. When F1 can beat an F1 car on an F1 circuit with an F1 race distance – then this is a conversation, until then there is no discussion and no comparison.

    2. There was a time when cars were slower than horses.

      In time it’ll happen.

      I think F1 needs to capitalise on leading fuel-source transition to bio-fuels and other alternatives which are renewable (hydrogen or otherwise). But it has to act fast or indeed be surpassed by electric and become totally irrelevant.

  5. Always in denial.
    That’s what’s being said before Tesla Motors. Now you see manufacturers unveiling full electric models almost every day.
    Today’s full electric cars can mimic almost a fossil fuel tank’s range, around 50 kg of fuel.
    F1 tank is 105kg.
    It is only a matter of battery development.

  6. I’m pinning my hopes on alternative fuels for ICE. I find electric obviously a great leap forward but at this moment in time it’s not the only avenue we have to pursue.

    1. @johnrkh Agreed. For those of us who need to be able to drive 800 km in a day with minimal stopping across remote areas with minimal infrastructure, I can’t see EVs being practical.

      My Toyota Landcruiser Prado has over 1,300 km range (highway, fully loaded), and often our camping trips involve not seeing civilisation for several days.

      Carrying a few jerry cans of diesel extends the range about 300 km if necessary (in most cases it isn’t).

      I am interested in the clean alternatives for those long trips.

  7. Famous last words, tempting fate.

    I think the current formats days are numbered. The drive to move to electric or pure green technology, especially in cars is moving at quite a pace. It’s certainly not there right now, but given time it most likely will. If the technology in electric cars becomes as fast and as common as the standard engine F1 could find itself looking like a dinosaur.

  8. Mercedes and Porsche have entered works teams in Formula E for the first time this year, joining Audi, BMW, Nissan, Jaguar and DS.

    Lots of people point to this as a key factor in proving F1’s days are numbered. However, let’s not forget that it wasn’t long ago that F1’s OEM list included Ferrari, Mercedes , Renault, Honda, Toyota, BMW and Ford (via Jaguar). What happened? They all chucked huge wedges of cash at the sport and left when the world markets slumped. Given the cyclical nature of world economies and the generally volatile state of the world, this is likely to happen again…with FE being the victim.

    1. And the same thing happened to the Super Touring era in BTCC (when Vauxhall, BMW, Nissan, Renault, Honda, Toyota, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Ford, Peugeot and Volvo all came and went). More OEM’s equals more cost, more pressure to win and ultimately a mess for the sport to mop up when they all abandon ship.

      1. History repeats itself.

        FE is now the trendy place to be. And with OEM’s will come professionalism, competitiveness that goes beyond sport and all around destruction once next downturn comes.

  9. The moment FE develop a car that is faster than F1 over 300km distance F1 is done. It will take 2 orders of magnitude jump in current Battery performance, and even after 1 magnitude, we will all drive electric.

    1. @jureo – Absolutely right – there is no comparison at this point.

  10. Nobody wants a personal computer.

  11. As was seen in news feeds earlier this week. FE technology (let alone F1) is now trailing behind that of the motor industry. Of course it must, as it has to stick to the current FE regs.
    With new type batteries in development looking far more efficient and with greater, capacity, charge/discharge rates, the future of the current type of lithium cells would seem to be limited. However several motor manufacturers have invested mega millions into constructing new lithium cell batteries in places for JIT production supply.
    The widespread panic to switch to electric is creating massive unrest in several manufacturers as they attempt to close previous high volume car factories and open new. At the same time we shall loose at least one or two major car producers as the market drops and mergers abound. (Huge industry losses to come in both car production and the established supply chain) Daimler to save $1Bn with job cuts in Merc. How will this affect Merc if Toto is not there?
    Lithium is just as nasty as coal, oil or gas in its extraction and wasteful of fresh water in places where there is very little to start with. I favour hydrogen or methane either in ice
    or in fuel cells to produce electrical power.

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