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Despite being included in the technical regulations published by the FIA last month, Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed to Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt that F1 cars will not run on electric power in the pitlane from 2014. As Sylt explains in an article in the Express today, there is good reason for Ecclestone putting the brakes on electric engines being used in the pitlane.
In 2014 F1 is due to downsize its engine from the current 2.4 litre V8 to a more environmentally-friendly 1.6 litre V6 hybrid. It was thought that the new engine would incorporate an advanced form of the current KERS system by using the energy created under braking to power an electric motor which the cars would be forced to run on in the pitlane. However, Ecclestone says this will certainly not happen.
"There's no way that it will be electric in the pitlane," he says, adding that they would be "dangerous." He explains the risk in no uncertain terms by saying that "it could kill people." The reason for this is that the engines would not make any sound so "people won't hear them coming." The other disadvantage is that the lack of sound could put off spectators - a problem which is already at the top of the minds of F1's race promoters who have threatened to leave F1 if the V6 doesn't sound like the current engine.
Ecclestone says that spectators "disappear as soon as GP3 starts because there is no noise there. As soon as they don't hear any noise they leave. It's like having ballet dancers with sneakers. More comfortable but it doesn't work."
Ecclestone's ban on using electric engines in the pitlane will be music to the ears of fans of the F1 engines' high-pitched scream. He adds that although "Formula One is absolutely not the right place to have electric engines," that doesn't mean to say that they have no place in motorsport. He suggests they should be used in "the World Touring Car Championship then put on the road." He adds "I run one, I've got a Lexus and that is what it is."
FIA president Jean Todt has been blamed for the new regulations but Ecclestone says they are down to his predecessor Max Mosley. "We can't blame Jean because this was started by Max. This was Max's original idea. His idea is what is being promoted now."
Ecclestone also quashes the reports that Todt is trying to extract more money for the FIA from F1's commercial revenues which came to $985m ($1.6bn) last year according to Sylt's Formula Money trade guide to F1. In 2001 the FIA received £192.7m ($313.7m) in return for signing away F1's commercial rights for 100 years to the F1 Group which is run by Ecclestone and majority owned by private equity firm CVC. Ecclestone says there is no possibility of the FIA increasing its take from this deal. "That's all in place. It is up and running," he says.
He adds that F1's income may be down this year due to the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. However he doesn't rule out increasing the maximum number of races per season to 21 despite his contract with the teams limiting it at 20.
"We could have 21 races," says Ecclestone adding that the teams may be forced to agree if instead he suggests removing a race which they want to retain on the calendar. "It depends where it is. If we say we have got to get rid of Monaco, they would say we would rather not."
Although it seems that Turkey has been ditched to fit in the inaugural race in Austin next year, a Russian Grand Prix in Sochi will be added in 2014 with South Africa, France and Mexico in negotiations about holding a race. Something has got to give and when it comes to a tussle between Ecclestone and the teams, there is only ever one real winner.
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