Casey unconcerned at manufacturer move to Formula E


Speaking on Friday, though giving his thumbs up to next year's introduction of the Halo device, Sebastian Vettel revealed that he is still something of a purist when he admitted he would love to see F1 return to V12 engines.

It's a dream that many F1 fans, especially those of a certain vintage, will share.

However, speaking earlier this year, FIA president Jean Todt made clear that there will be no return to V12s, V10s or even V8s, as "society would not allow it", the Frenchman insisting that hybrid is here to stay.

No sooner had France announced a ban on the sale of all petrol and diesel fuelled cars from 2040 than the UK followed suit, and even though there is still the little matter of powering and recharging all those electric vehicles, it would appear that, as Renault recently claimed, "electrification" is the future.

As if to prove the point, within days of one another two German giants of the automobile industry have announced their defection to Formula E, the world's first fully-electric single-seater racing series.

While Mercedes is ending its iconic DTM involvement for the electric series, Porsche is turning its back on its even more iconic Sports Car programme. As the two great car brands join the likes of Renault, BMW and Jaguar, turning their backs on series that helped shape their racing history, one has to wonder how this might impact F1.

Chase Carey insists he is not concerned.

"The events of this week didn't change my view on Formula E one iota," he told Reuters. "For the mainstream auto industry, there's clearly a direction towards electrical engines. Nothing that happened recently changed it.

"I think Formula E at this point is in many ways a combination of a street party for fans and sponsors and auto companies," he continued. "For sponsors it is pursuing a corporate identification with a cause they like, for automotive companies R+D (research and development) and a technology they think will be a bigger part of their future. I'm not sure those things connect yet to make it a sport.

"We have state-of-the-art technology but we're first and foremost a great sport," he insisted, "with great heroes doing incredible things that are awe-inspiring and with fans around the world that are passionately loving the sport.

"We're delivering an incredibly exciting product that captures people's imagination and passion with great stars," he added. "They have a social agenda that is obviously important, the environment, and I respect that. There's an appeal to identifying with the environmental issue but I think they're very different propositions."

Interestingly however, Liberty Global, sister company to Liberty Media which now owns F1, has a stake in Formula E, so clearly founder John Malone has his bases covered.

However, leaving Carey's claim of F1 being "an incredibly exciting product" aside, as the sport disappears behind TV paywalls and fans grow ever more frustrated by rule changes that continually compromise the excitement, Formula E is slowly establishing itself and learning lessons from the more established series, not to mention the fact that it is taking its product into the heart of some of the world's most iconic – that word again – cities.

Asked yesterday if Ferrari might consider such a move, Mario Binotto admitted: "That's something that sometimes we have discussed internally but no decision have been taken and honestly it's a decision that is not down to my responsibility. So, I have no clue and no answer for you."

Adding the iconic Prancing Horse to the electric series would be a major coup and one that surely the sport's powers that be are working on.

If nothing else, the threat of a move to Formula E will give the manufacturers and teams extra leverage as the 2020 deadline for the current Concorde Agreement approaches.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Hungary, here.

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Published: 29/07/2017
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