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Drivers sceptical on electric cars

Drivers at the Thursday press conference seemed less than thrilled about the prospect of racing fully electrical cars in the future, despite the recent announcement of Formula E.
Current F1 drivers seemed less than completely enthusiastic about the prospect of racing fully electric cars in the future, when asked about it at the Thursday press conference at Spa.

Despite the announcement earlier this week that Alejandro Agag had been appointed to head FIA's new electric racing series Formula E (see separate story), most of the drivers at the press conference initially didn't even appear aware of the initiative.

"Looks like none of us has heard anything about that," said Michael Schumacher. "We have partially electric cars already - we have KERS!"

"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," agreed Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne. "I have no idea. Maybe it will come."

"I must say I've heard about it," admitted Pedro de la Rosa. "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."

It was indeed the noise - or rather the lack of noise - from electric cars that dominated the discussion, and not issues about the power or performance.

"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," emphasised 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 I did a kart race last year in Bercy with electric karts," contributed Verge. "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."

"That's actually a good point," chipped in Schumacher. "It would be the first time that we could hear the crowd and not the crowd us."

"I remember a few years ago, going to indoor karting in Finland and racing with electrical cars for the first time," said de la Rosa. "It was an incredible experience because you were racing, you were braking 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.

De le Rosa remained the most optimistic about electric cars among the drivers discussing the issue.

"We should be open-minded. Let's wait and see how it develops, because it could be extremely interesting, he said. "Let's wait and see how it looks like, because we've never seen a fully electrical single-seater and I'm really looking forward to that."

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