For over a hundred years, the world of motor racing, and Formula 1 has meant noise, fumes, speed, excitement, thrills, spills, and merchandising. Imagine all that, but without the noise and fumes. Can it be done? I recently saw a prototype GT racing car speed round part of the old motor racing circuit at Crystal Palace, South London. It was silent. It was, well, weird. I could hear the bloke next to me saying under his breath “t’ain’t right…”
But there could be a bright future for electric cars to race thanks to support from one Leonardo DiCaprio, actor, film star… and now it seems, e-race enthusiast. The 39-year-old star has teamed up with Venturi Automobiles owner Gildo Pallanca Pastor to create the team, which will be based in Monaco, where the “real” Formula 1 takes place each year.
Ok. Electric cars are hardly cutting edge science and technology, but they have an image problem. They are dullsville. This may just change things. Starting next year, Formula E will feature battery powered racing cars, similar in design to today’s Formula 1 cars. The aim is to attract more car buyers into the electric vehicle market and to speed up development of E cars by manufacturers. It’s to be an international Formula One, with ten of the world’s leading cities, including Beijing, Los Angeles, London, Berlin and Buenos Aires, all to host races.
It’s also not being sneered at by the established teams; Renault and McLaren, as well as technology group Qualcomm, tyre manufacturer Michelin and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group are all investing in the series.
DiCaprio, who has long been recognised for his green credentials and environmental work, said:
“The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles.”
Of course they may have to be fitted with! artificial engine sound creation devices to make them sound like the real macho fossil-fuelled Formula 1 engines cars! And will they have real drivers behind the wheel, or robots controlled from the pit-lane?