Bernie EcclestoneEnlarge Photo
F1 television rights boss Bernie Ecclestone has never been one to mince his words, and now his ire has turned towards the 2014 Formula One rules that will require pitlane travel to be entirely electric.
Adding to comments made about the lack of sound produced by regular electric vehicles, Mr Ecclestone commented: “There’s no way that it will be electric in the pit lane... People could be killed because they won’t hear the cars coming.”
The 2014 rules will bring about a downsize from the current screaming 2.4-liter V8s to a more environmentally friendly 1.6-liter V6, and a development of the current Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) will allow the cars to harness braking energy that will then allow them to run on electric power only in the pitlane.
Jean Todt, current president of the group that runs F1, the FIA, has hinted before that he could see the sport becoming entirely electric in the future, a view that has drawn a lot of flak. Ecclestone claims it wasn't really Jean's idea though, instead pointing blame at his predecessor, Max Mosley.
Ecclestone also vocalizes the concerns of many fans that going electric and moving to smaller engines will lack the aural attraction of the howling V8 engines, a large part of the experience. He adds “Formula One is absolutely not the right place to have electric engines. It’s like having ballet dancers with sneakers. More comfortable, but it doesn’t work.”
Many of the High Gear Media team are F1 fans and we love the scream of a V8 spinning to 16,000rpm, but we can't help feeling that Bernie's concerns are a little exaggerated, especially the claim that the pit lane will become dangerous - simply because any motorsport pit lane is already a dangerous place, and those working in that environment will always be highly alert to the presence of cars driving through - noisy or quiet.
We also know that at the 70mph limit of many Formula One pit lanes, an electric motor isn't likely to be completely silent - the motor in the 2011 Nissan Leaf Nismo RC concept sounds like a jet engine both inside and out and you'd definitely here it coming towards you.
Mr Ecclestone has a lot of power in Formula One, and we can't help feeling that his comments about lack of sound are more commercially-motivated than they are by safety...