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Formula E will surpass F1, declares Branson

NEWS STORY
27/06/2015

Virgin co-founder Richard Branson believes Formula E will surpass F1 in terms of popularity in the coming years.

Speaking at a press conference in London, ahead of this weekend's season finale, and at which he confirmed a new multi-year technical partnership between his team and Citroen, Branson was clearly making the most of F1's current "headache".

"I think there’s still going to be room for Formula 1 for another few more years, but I would say there will come a time when Formula E will overtake Formula 1,” he predicted.

"With Formula E, you still hear the roar of the cars through the tarmac as they come around the corner, but at least you can have a conversation and a drink while you’re watching the race which you can’t do with Formula 1.

"I think four or five years from now you'll find Formula E overtaking Formula One as far as number of people," he continued. "As time goes on, the clean energy-type of businesses are going to power ahead of other businesses.

"I personally think things are going to move that rapidly now," he concluded. "What goes on in a petrol-driven engine is complicated and antiquated and out of date and polluting."

Of course, Branson has experience of F1 having been involved with Brawn during its sole year of racing in 2009 - during which the Brackley outfit won both titles - and the Virgin branded team in 2010, which entered the sport along with what was to become Caterham and Hispania/HRT. Virgin itself subsequently morphing into Marussia and then Manor.

An extremely canny operator, it’s unclear how much Virgin invested in its own F1 team, Branson's modus operandi being to 'lend' the Virgin name with the aim of attracting other sponsors, though this clearly didn't work in terms of the F1 model.

Whilst many remain unmoved by Formula E, the arrival of Citroen, which joins Renault and Audi, indicates that the manufacturers see potential.

While F1 clearly has its problems... and then some, the sport is unlikely to feel threatened. Indeed, FIA president Jean Todt, who this week suggested that F1 is suffering a "headache" was keen to play down comparisons between the two disciplines.

"I think it is a big mistake to compare, it's two different things," he said. "It's like comparing London to a city on the beach.

"I really feel you need Formula One, which remains the pinnacle of motorsport, and you need Formula E, Sportscar racing and rallying, touring cars and Formula Three."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 30/06/2015 17:40

"Using batteries as a power source is total hypocrisy as a "green" source of energy, as already commented on. What F-E should be aiming for is to have the cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells - truly zero emissions. The technology is already with us - Mercedes had several buses running in London back in 06/07.

As for his comments about F-E becoming the preeminent motorsport, best just ignored."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Paul C, 30/06/2015 3:45

"Mr. Branson likes Formula E because it works well with Planet Paddock and it's B&C list celebrities and barely connected sponsor VIP's. Go play golf Richard Branson if you want to make deals at an event."

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3. Posted by SideGlance, 30/06/2015 1:21

"Recently saw the E race of Isle of Mann, not interesting at all, so NOPE is my answer Sir Branson !!"

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4. Posted by Darvi, 29/06/2015 11:19

"Green business..... really - the carbon generated in creating the batteries, building the cars and transporting them all over the world probably makes FE more poluting than F1 albeit less poluting than Virgin Atlantic as a business. How can someone running an airline bang on about "green business".

I am a big motorsport fan, but have stopped watching FE because it really isn't that exciting. The cars are slow, lack grip and the idea of changing the car kind of illustrates the big issue with electric vehicles at the moment, i.e. battery range."

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5. Posted by Lotus-e-Clan, 29/06/2015 8:39

"Formula E WINNER DEMOTED due to using too much battery power!

Shame that the PC-types that might admire such nonsense were probably watching the penguins in David Attenborough's Bachelor King...
"

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6. Posted by Kkiirmki, 29/06/2015 1:27

"Until I read this article I had no idea the Formula E had even started, let alone going on to challenge F1. "

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7. Posted by Paul C, 28/06/2015 20:48

"If I want to watch a slotcar race, I'll find a Scaletrix set. Otherwise Formula E is only a good fit for people who do not go to a race to see the racing like R Branson in the VIP box. Sad as F1 currently is, it is still better than FE."

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8. Posted by Joop deBruin, 28/06/2015 19:00

"Uh, no Richard."

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9. Posted by Ro, 28/06/2015 18:37

"I havnt had a better laugh for ages ! Give us credit ! Never saw such a load of rubbish all my life!"

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10. Posted by GordonW, 28/06/2015 14:53

"Ha, ha, ha! That's two loads of rubbish that Branson has spouted today (the first being that the UK should stay in the EU). Does Virgin Media have (or want) the long-term rights to Formula E by any chance? I don't know as I've never seen TV coverage of it promoted in any media whatsoever...."

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11. Posted by Vee Racer, 28/06/2015 10:57

"Yes, Mr Branson and the next Pope will be the Archbishop of Canterbury."

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12. Posted by mike, 28/06/2015 6:37

"Yes, that's why I go to an f1 race to have a conversation? Really! Talk about the wrong demographic. That is why I don't go anymore because you CAN have a conversation. Bring back the HP, RPM and the NOISE!!!!"

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13. Posted by Willie, 27/06/2015 22:49

"I don't doubt that Formula One will go down the tubes within 5 years after Bernie "retires," but there's no way that electric car racing will become a major sport.
"

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14. Posted by Natcheztoo, 27/06/2015 22:32

"I do not hold any grudges against anybody that makes gazillions of dollars or pounds. I do hold grudges against people like Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet for thinking they should be able to formulate ideas for the rest of us and shove them down our gullets. Gates and Buffet, after safely putting their over sized estates in to tax avoiding foundations, naturally called for higher taxes on other, moderately (in comparison to them) people.

Branson, with his religious fervor for EnviroGreenWorldDomination (dissenting facts be dammed), probably believes his cooky nonsense about mostly silent cars displacing F1 in a few years.

Fie and away! I want fire and brimstone in F1 cars."

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15. Posted by alfsboy, 27/06/2015 19:35

"I watched the Formula E race and found it good though a bit twee.It lacks grunt but does bring motor racing into city centres.How green it really is is dubious.Like all things electric the main pollutions are unseen .Like the trucks to get it all there ,the factories making the cars and batteries,the generation of the actual electricity .Its real hold up is technology itself where as in F1 the real hold up is old men and greed . "

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