Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Fortis
This weekend sees the running of the final round of the Formula E championship in Battersea Park, London. Eccentric billionaire and former owner of the Virgin Formula One team, now Manor Racing, Sir Richard Branson believes that Formula E championship will replace Formula one as the pinnacle of motorsport by the end of this current decade.
Branson’s Virgin Group owns its own team in the all-electric series driven by former GP2 driver Sam Bird and 2013 GP2 champion Fabio Leimer.
With F1 currently in a state of flux regarding its future, Mercedes’ domination and calls for an overall of the rules to improve on track competition and parity amongst the teams not making any obvious progress, it is not hard to see why Branson feels this way. Add to that the continuous quit threats from former front running team Red Bull and Formula One’s future does look bleak.
The Formula E championship have not encountered such troubles (yet) and since its inception have been able to proudly brand itself as the vision of the future of motorsports and the car industry in general.
Branson speaking in a media conference at Battersea Park, said: “I think four or five years from now you’ll find Formula E overtaking Formula One in terms of number of people [watching] and more and more, as time goes on, clean energy businesses are going to power ahead of other businesses.
“There’s still going to be room for Formula One for a few more years but I would say there will come a time when Formula E will overtake it. With Formula E, you can still hear the roar of the cars from the tarmac as they come through a corner, but at least you can have a conversation and a drink when you’re watching which you can’t do with Formula One.”
Also commenting on the future of road car technology, Branson believes in the next 20 years all cars will only be battery powered, which he feels is due to the current popularity of the all electric series.
“To have this many people in the press tent says it all, and to have got these beautiful sites – the site here is one of the prettiest in the world – and it’s so well organised. It’s captured the imagination of the public and in the next two or three years I think it’s going to grow as quickly as clean energy generally is.”
Almost every week we hear a very excited Nutella loving ‘student’ on the TJ13 F1 Courtroom Podcast signing the praises of Formula E and how brilliant it is. So one can understand Branson’s comments and Formula One (mainly FOM) can indeed learn a thing or two from Formula E interms of how the sport is marketed, increasing viewership numbers and getting the fans more involved and closer to the sport.