President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and former Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Jean Todt has revealed plans to introduce new electric car, go-kart and single-seater racing categories across the world as early as 2013 in a move to stimulate interest in alternative energy vehicles.
The subtext behind this message is that this could eventually lead to Formula 1 racing - the pinnacle of motor sport - eventually going electric. There are already plans afoot to introduce turbocharged hybrid engines in F1 from 2013 and electric propulsion would be the next step.
Series such as go-karting and lower single-seater formulae have traditionally been the direct route to F1 racing, teaching young stars everything they need to know to reach the top level - if not necessarily giving them the cash they also require to get there.
If these lower levels started gaining momentum as electric series then F1 might follow suit. This could be bad news for the millions of fans around the world, who tune in not just to watch the cars and drivers, but to hear the scream of racing V8 engines that represent the zenith of mechanical development.
Race fans weren't even that impressed by the relative quietness of the diesel Le Mans prototypes run in GT racing around the world when they first hit the scene, so what fans would make of silent Grand Prix cars is anybody's guess. Ask the same question of NASCAR fans and the answer might be rather curt...
Still, Mr Todt wants to press on with the electric racing plan. “As much as we can do it all over the world, we will do it,” he says, and that racing teams aren't bothered by what's powering the car as long as they can go quicker: "The racing community are only interested in how to improve performance because they want to win".
F1 is a business as much as a sport though and the FIA will need to be very careful with the rules they apply so as not to turn fans away from the sport. Smaller series and karting can survive as electric series as they'll always run alongside other feeder championships, but this isn't the case with Formula 1.
Nevertheless, it's only the workings of the rumor mill at this stage, so fans of the sport will still get to enjoy the sound and spectacle of a grid full of Grand Prix cars for many years to come.