John Floyd
Motorsport columnist
4 minute read
24 Aug 2018
9:31 am

Plenty of discussion points

John Floyd

There has been lots of talk about the sport going the electric route in future.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 28: Fernando Alonso of Spain, driver of the #29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda, in action during the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 28, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

The summer break provided some interesting discussion points, like Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Renault next year, Fernando Alonso’s retirement, Carlos Sainz joining McLaren and Ross Brawn intimating an “electrifying” future for F1.

Alonso’s decision did not comes a surprise, and neither did his fellow Spaniard’s move to the Woking team.

The double world champion has spent the last four seasons struggling with a terribly uncompetitive car.

Despite promises from management and engine suppliers, the chances of even reaching the podium in a McLaren seem remote for the next couple of years. Having won two F1 Drivers’ titles and his victory at Le Mans in June, the Spaniard is close to emulating Graham Hill in his quest for motorsport’s unbelievably elusive “triple crown”.

Perhaps we will see Alonso move to IndyCars for the future with the objective of taking victory in the legendary Indianapolis 500 and reaching his goal.

The 37-year-old is in his 17th F1 season and has achieved 32 victories, 22 pole positions and 97 podiums.

With that sort of talent he could well become the man to equal Hill’s achievement.

Stepping up to the plate at McLaren will be countryman, Carlos Sainz, 23, who leaves Renault at the end of the 2018 season.

A talented young driver, Sainz will have to face at least a couple of years of hard work and no spectacular results as the team struggles to find the sort of form that made McLaren a household name back in the good old days.

I must admit that the current rumours regarding the future of F1 are leaving me cold. I am at a loss to understand those who are driving some of these proposed radical changes.

We know that Jean Todt, FIA president, is totally against any return to the halcyon days of glorious multi-cylinder internal combustion engines, when the sound of V8, V10 or 12-cylinder engines were a rallying cry to all those with petroleum in their arterial system.

The constant reminder by the controlling body, and others of like mind, that the sport needs the manufacturers, indicates that the development of the future F1 power plant has to be in line with future road car requirements.

Sadly this ideology is becoming more firmly entrenched, but I was surprised to read that the technical director of F1 owners Liberty Media was of the same mind.

They have even suggested that we could possibly be facing an all electric Formula One within the next 10 years.

These are not ideas I would have expected from Ross Brawn, the man who, with Jean Todt, Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher, was part of the Ferrari “dream team” that dominated the sport from 2000 to 2004.

In an interview with F1’s Fan Voice, Brawn is reported as saying: “I think we have to respect what Formula E is doing and what it is achieving. “But if you look at the magnitude of the two they are not really comparable.

“In terms of our number of fans and the appeal of Formula One, Formula E is still very junior. “I think Formula One will evolve in the direction that has the right balance of sport, relevance and engagement with the fans. “If in five years time or 10 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 understand Brawn’s sentiments, but as a traditionalist I still baulk at the idea of F1 having the soundtrack of an enraged mosquito rather than a guttural roar escalating to a frenzied scream heard in days of yore, and I am not alone.

Devel – opments to improve the soundtrack of the current V6 power plants surely indicate this is a crucial area in attracting spectators to the circuits.

His statement that “there is nothing to stop us having electric Formula One cars in the future” is also not correct, according to Alejandro Agag.

Agag, the founder and current CEO of Formula E, is reported as saying, in an interview with that such a move would not be possible.

“Ross said that Formula One could go electric in 10 years and basically they can’t,” he said. “Formula E has an exclusive licence with the FIA for 25 seasons, and we have only done four. “So, the earliest Formula One could go electric is 2039, that is if we don’t renew our agreement with the FIA then. But I do not see any reason why we should not renew for longer.”

Interesting. The championship resumes this weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix at the iconic Spa Francorchamps
circuit. One of the founding races on the calendar for the first year of Formula One in 1950, this year it is round 13 of
the 21-race calendar.

With Lewis Hamilton leading Sebastian Vettel by 24 points, the result could well indicate the championship direction for this year.

Will Ferrari bounce back, or will Mercedes find something extra?

Hopefully, it will be the former, meaning the teams will battle it out right through to Abu Dhabi.

We will know after 44 laps of the 7 004km circuit – hopefully, an epic race.