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Todt dismisses all-electric F1 claims

NEWS STORY
14/09/2018

In a recent interview with the official F1 Fan Voice portal, F1's technical boss, Ross Brawn said: "If in five years' time or ten years' time there is a need, desire or wish to have a different type of power unit in Formula One then we will do it. There is nothing to stop us having electric Formula One cars in the future.

"I don't see Formula One being locked into internal combustion engines forever," he added, "but who knows where we are in ten years. Ten years ago I don't think many people would be able to predict where the world is now and therefore I don't know where we will be in ten years, but Formula One will move in the right direction."

At which point all hell broke loose, as it was feared that a sport that has already yielded to environmental concerns, might actually go further, a suggestion that sent shivers through those still suffering withdrawal symptoms following the loss V6, V8, V10 and V12 powerhouses for hybrid power units.

Formula E boss, Alejandro Agag, was quick to rubbish the claims, confirming that his series will be the only all-electric series until 2039.

"Formula E has an exclusive licence with the FIA for 25 seasons, and we've only done four," the Spaniard told Motorsport.com. "So the earliest Formula 1 could go electric is 2039, if we don't renew our agreement with the FIA, but I don't see any reason why we shouldn't renew for longer. We have exclusivity until at least 2039, so no electric F1 until then at least."

Suggesting that Brawn "got the maths wrong", Agag added: "There may be the possibility of Formula One going full electric, but clearly that's not possible without talking to us because we have exclusivity with the FIA."

Jean Todt was also quick to jump on the speculation.

"It is true that we have an exclusive agreement on single-seaters for a certain amount of years with the promoter in FE," he told Autosport, whose owner own a stake in the all-electric series, "but it would be a nonsense to say that in the future Formula 1 is going to be electric. It is not going to happen. Simply you could not do it. We are talking about two completely different categories."

Insisting that Brawn's comments were "nonsense" he added: "It is completely misleading to compare FE and F1. F1 is a well-established category and I keep saying that for me, FE is a baby of the FIA so there is still a lot to learn."

Nonetheless, one has to wonder what drove Brawn's "nonsense" suggestion, especially as it was made via F1's own official Fan Voice portal.

Furthermore, his comments come at a time F1's powers-that-be are pondering the engine rules for 2021, and while it looks highly unlikely that further manufacturers will be tempted to enter the sport, the suggestion F1 might go all-electric in ten years is hardly likely to please the existing manufacturers.

To further confuse, Brawn suggested that it is the fans who are driving the idea.

"I think Formula One will evolve in the direction that has the right balance of sport, relevance and engagement with the fans," he said. "Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, the speeds we do, the calibre of drivers we have and the teams we have, and if that moves in five or ten years' time to a different power source then we will do it if that is most appealing and achieves what we want to achieve."

Interestingly, according to Forbes, his comments follow a report by the International Energy Agency which predicts that the global fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) looks set to triple to 13 million by the end of the decade from 3.7 million in 2017. The Paris-based institution predicts that sales of EVs may soar 24% each year on average through to 2030.

A separate report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, forecast that by 2050 EVs will account for around 9% of total global electricity demand, up from about 0.2% now. However, in some places, such as Germany, it will be even higher as EVs are expected to account for as much as 24% of demand.

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