By Joe Harker
Electric cars are becoming more prominent in motor sports, prompting speculation over the future of racing and what place electric cars will have in the most popular motor sports.
Formula E, an all-electric car motor sport, is becoming more popular. It could even be considered the future of motor sports if electric cars continue to grow in popularity. The cars are quieter, but if electric engines supersede petrol engines then Formula E could supplant Formula 1 as the main motor sport. Famous car manufacturers Mercedes and Porsche are participating in Formula E, giving more credibility to the sport.
Quieter electric cars may actually be a significant obstacle to electric engines replacing petrol ones. Loud and distinctive engine noises are part of the success of F1, with new CEO Chase Carey wanting simpler and louder engines. Crowds are more excited by louder engines, with the old V10 engines loud noises being far more popular than the quieter V6 engines that sound like "snarling vacuum cleaners". It may sound simplistic, but the quieter electric engines may not be as appealing to crowds compared to the far louder petrol engines. Without the same level of crowd support electric car motor sports may continue to play second fiddle to F1.
Formula 1 is still the pinnacle of motor sport, according to Haas F1 team chief Guenther Steiner. Steiner acknowledges the progress electric car racing such as Formula E has made, but doesn't feel threatened by the growing popularity of electric cars. He said: "I still see F1 in a very good place, it is the pinnacle of motor sport.
"FE is trending at the moment. Everyone wants to be part of this electric movement, which is fully understandable. But when there are seven or eight manufacturers involved, not all can win. I see it as an additional series, but I don't see it as a threat. If it was a threat, we would just put electric motors in F1 cars."
There could be a place for both F1 and FE, though this will not mean a return to the bigger and louder petrol engines of the past, reports the BBC. They dismiss suggestions that the environmental concerns of F1 could be offset by FE as "a delusional fantasy". Times are changing, and F1 will likely never be able to return to the more powerful petrol engines of the past.
Will electric cars continue to grow in motor sports, or shall petrol continue to be king of the track?