There are some in the F1 paddock who think that Formula 1 should ignore the environment and go on racing with the current machinery. This would be cheaper than building a new generation of engines for 2014 but there is a danger that F1 will lose relevance to the automobile industry, which has long been the source of much of the sport’s funding.
“Technology in the automotive field is changing,” says Ross Brawn of Mercedes GP. “We don’t want
to end up as a dinosaur in five or 10 years’ time.”
The industry is definitely on the move towards electric cars. In the last few months there have been several major deals. BMW and Peugeot Citroen formed a joint venture in the spring to build components for plug-in cars, while the Daimler-Renault-Nissan alliance now also covers electric vehicles. Last week General Motors and LG announced a deal to supply battery cells to GM hybrids, which have small engines to extend the range of the cars.
Volvo, the Swedish car firm that is now owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in China, has just announced a new partnership with German engineering group, Siemens to develop electric cars. Work will begin immediately to create electric versions of the Volvo C30.
There are already some hybrid technology in F1, with Williams’s relationships with Porsche and Jaguar and the new link between Team Lotus and General Electric seems to be heading down the same path. And even Ferrari, which is not in favour of electric cars, is putting KERS into its latest models.
The times are changing – and F1 needs to keep up.