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GP Week : Issue 183
>>> FEATURE garnered much eye rolling and snide remarks from within the industry. For Agag, this regulation is a necessary evil, but which he hopes may drive battery technology for ward. “The solution was to either put two cars [per driver] or to wait 10 years for when the batteries would be ready to last longer. We decided to not wait and we wanted to show the development – first they last 25 minutes, then 30 and on; it will show that these batteries are progressing.” The subject of technological development catches the attention of Drayson Racing Team Principal, Lord Paul Drayson. “We have been pioneering green technology in motorsport since 2007, and with the electric car you are faced with getting to know new technology operating at the limits of its performance. ”We’ve had 125 years to push that performance with the internal combustion engine, yet we are just scratching the surface of what we can do with hybrids and pure electric drivetrains, but the most exciting element is the opportunity to make motorsport much more relevant to the challenges of the car industry.” A passionate devotee to motorsport, the former UK government minister believes that perception of engineering in motorsport will also benefit from the birth of Formula E: “There’s never been a better time to be a motorsport racing engineer. If motorsport can show that it can use the crucible of competition to develop better batteries and better electric motors and show in racing how well they work, then we can change the perception of these challenges.” Of course, Formula E will be far from a unique project. There has been a growing amount of electric racing in Europe and the US of late. In a field filled with all-electric Andros smart cars, the third Grand Prix de Electrique took place at Pau last week – with FIA GT racer Mike Parisy taking his second victory in the event ahead of GP2 Series regular Nathanael Berthon. Audi DTM factory driver Adrien Tambay won the event in 2012. Away from the streets of southern France, students competing in Formula School have made numerous inroads into electric and alternative energy motor racing, while Indiana’s Purdue University hosted its fourth EV Grand Prix this month. Agag, however, is looking at a concept far larger than those projects: “We have been over whelmed with the response [...] and the level of interest from leading drivers and teams who share our vision for the future in combining exciting racing with clean energy and sustainability.” Richards also sees benefits for manufacturers who may be eyeing up Formula E: “The one thing I find intriguing is the opportunity for manufactures, like Prodrive, to develop new technologies and to showcase them in a relevant environment. Around 80 percent of our work focuses on activities other than motorsport, and a lot of these activities revolve around battery technology and hybrid systems, so to be able to apply that technology in racing and have it without constraints is going to be an exciting opportunity for us,” says the former BAR boss. “We are going through so many one make formulas now where you can’t innovate and the engineers haven’t got the latitude to show their talents and the manufacturers to show new technologies.” Just before the discussion draws to a close, Agag elicits one final thought: “I think it is important that motorsport is taking this lead. Who knows where the future will take us? We can imagine in 20 or 30 years that we will look back and think how strange it was that we lived in cities where all these cars were throwing smoke. Today we can go to a restaurant and not be surprised that no one is smoking!” Society is constantly developing and adapting to new challenges. Who is to say Formula E or a series like it won’t frame the future of motorsport? 25 GPWEEK.com // 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: