Australian circuits considered for Formula E demonstration

Garry Connelly, Deputy President of the FIA Institute

(L) Garry Connelly, Deputy President of the FIA Institute

Some great news today from Albert Park, Australia ahead of the F1GP this weekend – it looks like our Antipodean friends could see some electric racing action in the very near future. Garry Connelly, Deputy President of the FIA Institute announced that the circuit is being considered as a potential host for a round of the all-electric Formula E series. It’s no more than a consideration at this stage, with 2013 being heralded as a demonstration year before the full championship in 2014, but it is very encouraging to see electric racing getting a mention when all eyes are focused on the F1 circus.

Connelly told the Cars of Tomorrow conference in Melbourne that “the sole purpose of this is to put out there in front of the public that electric cars work [in motorsport], and they’re fast and good to drive.” Good to hear, but I’m still worried about the FIA’s misguided focus on ensuring that there is some kind of artificially generated noise from the cars. Connelly commented: “One of the challenges, of course, is how to get some noise, because the idea of putting in sound is a bit of a conflict of ideas, but I’m sure the people of St Kilda will be very happy that they are silent. It’s not actually very safe to have silent cars, so they’re working out something where there will be noise generated, but it won’t be like the current Formula One.”

And that’s the whole point. It won’t be like F1, it was never meant to be. And the notion that silent cars are dangerous is quite ridiculous in a racing context. Sure, there might be sense in some kind of aural alert when they come in the pits but adding electronic noise is just going to play into the hands of the fossil fuel Luddites. After reading some of the comments from other websites about this story, I’m pretty ashamed of my fellow race enthusiasts. The same old misguided prejudices are in full flow, and the enlightened minority are shouted down with crass comments regarding slot cars and dodgems. It’s a shame not everyone sees the potential of an electric series that will entice a new breed of fan, generate sponsorship from otherwise disenfranchised corporations and produce genuinely new technology that can be implemented in road cars.

At least the FIA sees the value in choosing street circuits for Formula E, bringing racing to your doorstep and enabling you to have a conversation during a race. I just wish other racing fans could see beyond the ‘noise and smell’ they consider so vital to their enjoyment of motorsport.

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