Motor Sports Association chairman Dave Richards believes Formula 1 lost technological relevance when it switched to V6 hybrid engines in 2014.

In a push to embrace sustainable technologies and continue to be more road-relevant in the future, F1 made the move from 2.4-litre naturally aspirated V8 engines to new V6 power units in 2014.

The switch proved controversial and faced opposition despite the championship’s greener push, with then F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone particularly critical of the decision.

Speaking about the technological advances in motorsport at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, Richards said: “Traditionally, we have lived off the fact that we have driven new technologies.

“Sometimes it’s not necessarily been a technology per se, but it’s a great marketing platform. Audi with the four-wheel drive going into the Quattro, the paddle shifts, it’s standard on all sports cars these days.

“If you go back the last decade we’ve lost that initiative. We’ve become entertainment, which is alright in itself, and there is a place for that, but I believe we’ve lost the initiative on technology.

“I think quite frankly it started when they introduced these wonderful engines that they have in Formula 1 today,” he added.

“They’re an extraordinary engineering feat with the hybrid systems on them - the whole sort of way that they operate - and the day they were introduced, Bernie Ecclestone said they were terrible and they sounded bad and how terrible this was for the sport. We just didn’t get it right from the outset.

“We’ve got to be on our front foot now, and from a Motorsport UK point of view, we’re not going to just say there is only one solution like electric, that the government seems to be promoting.

“There are lots of solutions out there. There’s hybrid solutions, there’s hydrogen coming, there’s a whole range of different technologies we should be promoting and we should be encouraging, and we’ve got to get on our front foot again.”      

Asked about the recent emergence and rise of hydrogen powered vehicles, Richards added: “In my view that’s the way to go.

“Already Le Mans have hung their flag to the mast and said for 2024, the LMP1 class, the class that will win Le Mans will be a hydrogen car.

“I think Britain, and the motorsport industry in Britain, has a great opportunity to pioneer this technology and be at the forefront of it.”

 

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