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GP Week : Issue 165
w BRIEFLY » Former Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, who was dismissed from his role in June following claims of misconduct, has filed an unfair dismissal suit against his former employers. Bahar’s suit, which sees the businessman asking for £6.7 million in damages, names both Group Lotus and DRB-Hicom, the company’s Malaysian owners. “DB [Bahar] was dismissed after an investigation into his stewardship of Lotus. We believe we have acted properly at all times,” DRB-Hicom said in a statement. DRB-Hicom have filed a counter-suit against Bahar. Bahar’s suit, however, is not the only one currently against Lotus’s new management, led by COO Aslam Farikulla, with hundreds of bills for contractor services unpaid since DRB-Hicom took over the running of the company at the end of 2011. » Nearly 18 months after his devastating accident in the Ronde di Andora rally, Robert Kubica spent part of August back behind the wheel of a rally car. The popular Polish racer took part in a WRC test at France’s Circuit de Ecuyers, where he shared track time with Ford WRC drivers Petter Solberg and Jari- Matti Latvala. According to Ford, Kubica paid his own way at the test, and was keen to get back behind the wheel but away from the spotlight. The manufacturer said only that the test had been attended by “a mystery driver who did not wish to have any publicity about the relationship”. F1 >>> NEWS With sustainability and manufacturer relevance two of the major buzzwords in the world of motorsport, the launch of an electric-only championship was but a matter of time. Over the F1 summer shutdown, the FIA and Formula E Holdings (FEH) announced the launch of Formula E, an all-electric race series set to make its debut in 2014. Grands prix will take place on street circuits in city centres, the natural proving ground of the electric car. The first season will see ten teams with twenty drivers competing in single seaters capable of reaching up o 200kph. Given the current limitations of electric batteries, races will be much shorter than those F1 fans are used to, and pit stops will see drivers changing cars, not tyres or batteries. As electric vehicle technology improves, races will increase in duration – the championship has been designed to evolve with the cars that power it. “This new competition at the heart of major cities is certain to attract a new audience,” said FIA president Jean Todt. “We are pleased with this agreement with Formula E Holdings as they bring a very strong experience in motorsport. The new events will provide a great way to engage the younger generation. This spectacular series will offer both entertainment and a new opportunity to share FIA values with a wide audience as clean energy, mobility and sustainability. This is a great day and a strong message to the motor sport community. The FIA is definitely looking to the future!” According to FEH CEO Alejandro Agag, the investors behind Formula E have three key objectives. “The first is to create exciting and competitive racing,” he said. “This will be a real competition between cars and drivers, where the best technology and the best pilot will win. We want to create a show for all ages, focusing on the younger generations that identify with many of our values. The second is to become a framework for the research and development around the electric vehicle. Battery life and efficiency of electric engines are two fields in which many global corporations are investing vast resources. Technological breakthroughs in these fields will take the electric car to a different level. We would like to become the testing ground for those advances. “The third is to make people believe in electric cars. Believe in the power of these cars; believe they work. To make people believe that they need an electric car and a more sustainable lifestyle. Many people don’t think about buying an electric car because they don’t know the facts about them. We want to show everyone what these cars can do.” While electric racing may yet prove itself to be the formula of the future, the current crop of F1 drivers knew very little about Formula E when asked about it in Spa. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher went as far as to say that “we have partially electric cars already. We have KERS!” Pedro de la Rosa showed a greater understanding of Formula E, and of its potential as a new series. “It's obviously a new era,” the HRT driver said, “and we should be open- minded to the fact that we're used to racing with noise. I remember a few years ago, going indoor karting in Finland and racing with electrical karts for the first time which was an incredible experience because you were racing, you were braking for Turn 1, or accelerating on the straight and then you had a kart next to you and you didn't hear it, which was shocking, because we are basically from the noise era, but we should be open-minded. “Let's wait and see how it develops, because it could be extremely interesting... Anyway, my bottom line is it's a new era, it's an interesting avenue, we should be open-minded and let's wait and see how it looks like, because we've never seen a fully electrical single-seater and I'm really looking for ward to that.” FORMULA E – ON A CHARGE (L to R): Alejandro Agag (ESP) CEO of Formula E Holdings, Jean Todt (FRA) President of the FIA, and Enrique Banuelos (ESP) anchor investor, Formula E Holdings, signing the agreement between FIA and FEH. 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: