Formula E has proved itself adept at hitting the headlines. This week, four times F1 champion Alain Prost announced he will be entering a team into the new sport next year. Today, soon to be four times F1 champion Sebastian Vettel rubbished the concept, saying that he doesn’t see it as the future. Every Yin needs a Yang, after all.
Without being there, it’s hard to understand the nuances of a media quote and to correctly interpret any comments printed. Context is all. The remarks by Vettel seem to be centred on F1, not on Formula E; he talks about keeping the noise and the vibration in his own sport, a big talking point with the introduction of new engines next season.
Without knowing the phrasing of the question he was responding to, it’s impossible to gauge whether he really feels Formula E as a standalone series is a bad idea, or whether the message is that he doesn’t want F1 to be influenced by Formula E.
However, the usually diplomatic German driver stated bluntly: “I don’t like it at all.” It’s a viewpoint that might be honest but one that might not go down too well with his team’s engine supplier Renault, which as well as powering him to every one of his titles is heavily involved with developing the Formula E spec car.
That the debate is taking place so publicly and in a place with an exploding car culture is only good news for Formula E. More prime time coverage, more column inches, more clicks – and all still a year away from getting to the grid.
For all the drawbacks that the series may be developing, the sport’s commitment to developing technologies relevant to road cars and to boosting the sales of electric vehicles – a short term strategy for cleaning up horrendous inner-city air pollution – remains far more laudable than any equivalent aims at Formula 1 which, if they still exist, seem to have been swallowed in the vast vats of cash and ferocious politics.
Of course, Vettel can’t claim to love all of the noise in F1. We’d imagine he’d happily swap a few decibels of engine combustion for fewer podium pantomime boos.