FIA boss: Electric F1 racing is 'simply not possible'

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By Theo Leggett
Business correspondent, BBC News

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Jean Todt says motorsports has a large relation to play successful pioneering tech for aboriginal roadworthy cars

The car manufacture whitethorn beryllium going greenish and heading for an all-electric future, but the aforesaid cannot beryllium said of Formula One centrifugal racing - astatine least, not for decades.

That's according to the outgoing president of the sport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA). "It's simply not possible," explains Jean Todt, with a shingle of the caput and a wry smile.

"In Formula One, a contention region is astir 200 miles (305km). Without recharging, with the show of the cars, energy volition not let that," helium says.

"Maybe successful 20 years, 30 years, I don't know. But astatine the infinitesimal it would beryllium simply impossible."

The 75-year-old Frenchman is simply a cardinal fig successful planetary motorsport. A one-time co-driver (or navigator) successful rallying, helium aboriginal oversaw the Ferrari Formula One squad with which Michael Schumacher won 5 of his 7 satellite championships.

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Mr Todt says the "trend distant from visceral noise" successful centrifugal racing is accelerating

After a stint successful complaint of Ferrari itself, helium was elected president of the FIA successful 2009. Mr Todt has remained successful the station ever since, but volition measurement down aboriginal this month.

The FIA oversees centrifugal racing bid oregon competitions astir the world. But it is besides heavy progressive successful promoting roadworthy information and sustainability.

For Mr Todt, motorsport has a wide relation to play arsenic a laboratory for technologies which tin yet payment each roadworthy users.

He points to Formula E, a title for electrical racing cars initially conceived astatine a meal successful Paris 10 years ago, which helium attended on with the Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag and EU commissioner Antonio Tajani. The thought was sketched retired connected 1 of the restaurant's napkins.

That title is present gearing up for its eighth season. There person been setbacks - not slightest the caller withdrawal of teams from Audi and BMW, portion Mercedes plans to permission astatine the extremity of adjacent season.

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During Todt's clip astatine Ferrari, Schumacher won 5 of his 7 satellite championships

But according to Mr Todt, its relation successful refining electrical car technologies should not beryllium underestimated.

"Eight years ago, to bash a 45-minute race, drivers needed to alteration cars halfway through, due to the fact that of scope limitations. Now, we tin bash the aforesaid contention region with lone 1 car.

"All of this experience, each this research, is profitable to roadworthy users. That's why, present you perceive astir electrical cars with a scope of 400-500 kilometres (250-310 miles) which was not the lawsuit 10 years ago," helium says. "Charging times person besides decreased significantly."

But centrifugal racing is not conscionable a probe crushed for caller technologies. It is besides a multi-billion-pound spectator sport, peculiarly successful the lawsuit of Formula One, and the 2 bash not ever beryllium comfortably together.

Seven years ago, the FIA mandated caller engines for Formula One.

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Mr Todt was among the radical who came up with the thought for Formula E - connected the backmost of a napkin

The turbocharged hybrid units had to beryllium acold much businesslike than their predecessors: they were allowed conscionable 100kg of substance to past the full contention versus 150kg the play before. The hybrid systems recovered vigor which would different person been wasted, to assistance powerfulness the cars.

On the look of it, the caller look was a triumph for sustainability. But the caller engines were much, overmuch quieter than their predecessors, and galore fans were aghast. They resented the nonaccomplishment of the dependable and fury which had been portion of Grand Prix racing for generations.

With electrification, the inclination distant from visceral sound is lone apt to accelerate. But Mr Todt does not spot this arsenic a problem.

"The fanatics, they weren't blessed due to the fact that they said 'we don't perceive the noise'," helium explains. "But we don't perceive that anymore. You get utilized to it."

"There is large involvement successful Formula E - wherever determination is nary sound (at all). So I deliberation it's precise important to thatch the supporters, to thatch the fans, wherefore we alteration the regulations."

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The newer F1 engines are overmuch quieter which has upset fans

But F1 faces different existential questions. As Mr Todt explains, with its almighty cars and agelong races, it cannot realistically go all-electric similar Formula E.

Yet arsenic much and much consumers commencement utilizing battery-powered cars each day, I inquire him, however volition it stay relevant? "With hybridisation, precise overmuch developed, and with zero emanation fuel", helium says.

"Formula One is not going to nutrient contamination - CO2. Which is what we request to achieve."

Sustainability is not the lone target, however. The FIA insists it is besides committed to greater diverseness and inclusion successful motorsport. Yet determination are galore barriers to introduction - it is 29 years since a pistillate operator past tried to suffice for an F1 race.

Under Jean Todt, immoderate advancement has been made. A Women successful Motorsport committee was acceptable up successful 2010, led by the erstwhile rally operator Michele Mouton. Its relation has been to promote much women to get progressive successful centrifugal racing and assistance bully drivers to advancement further.

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Former rally operator Michele Mouton is portion of an inaugural to get much women successful to centrifugal sport

The W Series, an all-female title utilizing Formula 3 cars, has been moving since 2019. Its purpose is to beforehand pistillate talent. At the clip of its launch, determination were criticisms that it represented a retrograde step, due to the fact that women racers were inactive being segregated.

But the imaginable of a pistillate operator competing for the F1 World title inactive seems a agelong mode off.

"Gender equality and diverseness are essential," insists Mr Todt. "We person been addressing that astatine the FIA.

"The archetypal step, which is perfectly important - to accidental we privation to person much women successful motorsport - has started.

"Now we request a definite magnitude of clip earlier we get the results."

Others, though, volition present person to instrumentality that docket forward, arsenic Mr Todt himself prepares to thrust disconnected into the centrifugal racing sunset.

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