Formula E or How to make drivers laugh

With the summer break over and the Formula One circus back on track it seems like Hungarian GP was ages ago. Some have enjoyed themselves around Russia going to “the sort of cities that most of us have never heard of”, some have had some trubles fitting into their girlfriends’ wetsuits… but certainly most of them did not use the break to check on the lastest news on motorsport.

Formula E?? Electric championship??  You should have seen their faces when they hear me asking about it but… and there is always a ‘but’… someone did know about it… Who that might be? Of course, Pedro de la Rosa. The thing is, the question made them talk, almost to the point that at the end it seems the drivers have forgotten we, journalists, were there.

So here it goes… but first, a link to Autosport news about Formula E –  just in case you enjoy the summer break as much as drivers did.

— BelgianF1 GP 2012 / FIA Press Conference/ Thurday 30 August —

Patricia Sánchez: We’ve been hearing about F1 with electric cars. What would you think about that sort of competition, and how would you like to drive a noiseless car?

Michael Schumacher: Looks like none of us has heard anything about that.  We have partially electric cars already. We have KERS! (laughing)

Q: My question is basically about having a Formula One race with no noise. Would that be the same feeling for you? …If it happens.

Jenson Button: If. I’m sure we could try and make some sort of noise that we like. It would save our hearing because this things are pretty loud. We wouldn’t need earplugs which is quite a good thing. I don’t know.  I don’t know what the possibility is of having a completely electrical car, how many manufacturers would be involved…

Pedro de la Rosa: I must say I’ve heard about it, it’s Formula E, and it’s obviously a new era, and we should be open-minded to the fact that we’re used to racing with noise. But I remember a few years ago, going to indoor karting in Finland and racing with electrical cars for the first time which was an incredible experience because you were racing, you were breaking for turn one, 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…

Jenson Button: Can you hear a Formula One car coming?

Pedro de la Rosa: Absolutely, yeah. You can feel…(with a huge smile on his face) yeah, especially when I’m shown blue flags… I can hear you guys!!

Jenson Button: You get out of the way straightaway. I’ve seen you Pedro!! (laughing out loud)

(All drivers laugh)

Pedro de la Rosa: I mean karting, karting, karting… indoor karting.  I don’t know how it will feel with single-seaters but for sure you can still hear something. Maybe when you get very old you won’t but…

Jenson Button: You tell me, Pedro!

(More laughs)

Pedro de la Rosa: Anyway, my botton line is it’s a new era, it’s an interesting avenue we should be open-minded and lets wait and see how it looks like, because we’ve never seen fully electrical single-seater and I’m really looking forward to that.

Jean-Eric Vergne: I have no idea. Maybe it will come. To be honest, I haven’t heard about it, so I don’t know how it is, I don’t know how it’s going to be. I did a kart race last year in Bercy with electric karts. It was quite a fun race. We could hear other noise as well. The funny thing is that we could hear the whole crowd around the stadium. But I have no idea how it would be in F1 or single-seaters.

Michael Schumacher: That’s actually a good point. It would be the first time that we could hear the crowd and not the crowd us.

Jenson Button: I think you’ve got to ask the fans more than us. It would be a big difference for the fans. I know there are the obvious reasons for doing it which are very important, but for the fans, they would miss something, with the buzz of the sound of an F1 car, because that’s the first thing you notice when you come and watch an F1 car, it’s the sound.

— Ends —

So…lets ask the fans… How would you feel with a noiseless competition? What do you think about Formula E? Is it the future, the next step in racing championships?

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Yes, F1’s test for everyone…. is possible!!

Pedro de la Rosa, nuevo piloto de HRT

Pedro de la Rosa, the new HRT driver, recently slammed Formula 1’s testing rules, and he reckoned the sport needs to change them urgently for its own good. Since there are many drivers suffering the same situation and not been allowed to drive as much as they need… I interviewed Pedro about it. It is an unfair position for test drivers, but what can we suggest to make it a bit fairer for everyone?

PDLR: “It is very easy. It’s true we can’t have freedom of Formula 1 test but we can’t go to the extremely opposite either. There has to be a chance of opening test days, we could establish a short amount of test, controlled and limited, in order to make them affordable for every team.  

Maybe it could be something like eight test sessions for every team along the season, which would be a cheap solution and a way to keep third drivers while you open the door to new talents.

Because it is not fair for test drivers, like I was… lets say, if Hamilton or Button would have had a problem during the season, I would have gotten in the car and be competitive when I haven’t really drive in so long,  apart from the simulator. It’s just not fair.”

 Q: So, if it seems so logical and simple, how come it hasn’t been proposed before?

 PDLR: “Well, because we have to understand we are still lurching towards a solution. Formula 1 Regulation was quite open a few years ago we used to test a few days every week, with a couple of cars and with two drivers. Teams were spending a fortune. However, nowadays we are actually doing the extremely opposite. It’s all or nothing.

We have gone from one extreme to the other. That cannot be fair either. And neither is trying to find a mid-point because it’s very expensive. What we could do would be opening small amount of test sessions which would be good for everyone.”

Q: You are again first driver for a Formula 1 team, just what you wanted. How does it feel to get back on track?

PDLR: “Being a test driver is alright but it means you can’t be racing. As soon as I had the chance to race again for a team willing to expand and especially for a Spanish team, I could not deny it, I had to be there. Of course I’m delighted with the idea. I’d love to start right now. But it’s going to be a weird month… I still have some simulator work to do for McLaren while I’m already thinking of HRT. And, actually, I don’t know how McLaren is going to take these weeks left with me since they know I’m leaving.

Besides my bigger assets it is having great experience on the field, I know what a car needs to be faster and what a team could need in order to be organised for Formula 1. I have been working with the best and I hope HRT can use this aspect of me too and not just my driving skills.”

Q: HRT Team is on their second F1 season, but there is still a long path ahead. How do you see your future team?

PDLR: “It is a young team. All the big ones are so after 40 or 50 years of history. We have to be patient. It’s going to be a very interesting time even though it’s going to be very hard. I’m very clear about it, I know where I am going to and we all have to be realistic about it. It is something I want to say to the Spanish fans because they’re putting a lot of expectative on it.”

Q: McLaren bid you a nice farewell. After all these years, you have built up a strong relationship with the team… how do you feel about it?

PDLR: “It’s thanks to them that I am here at the moment. If I wouldn’t have worked for them I would have never had another chance in Formula 1. I am now better driver than I was in 2003 because it’s not just that I have worked with world champions but also I have learned from engineers.”

Interlagos Circuit, Brazil: Patricia Sánchez