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Bernie Ecclestone Skeptical of FIA's New All-Electric Racing Series UPDATE
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag
The new FIA sanctioned all-electric racing series, Formula E, is still a work in progress, but Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said he is "extremely satisfied with progress until now."

Agag, a 42-year-old Spanish businessman, said a lot of work has to be done before the first race, "but everything [is] coming along nicely." Formula E is scheduled to debut in ’14, however, the racing series has only two confirmed host cities and one confirmed team so far.

Asked whether he is concerned about this seemingly limited interest in the series, Agag said: "We are at the moment finalizing the preliminary calendar of cities that will host races in 2014. [We] will focus on teams after we have presented the preliminary calendar of selected cities."

F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone recently called Formula E a politically driven series and described it as "a bit of a joke," in an exclusive interview with SBD Global.

Agag responded to these comments by saying, "We respect everyone's opinion, and particularly Mr. Ecclestone's. He is the creator of modern F1. Thanks to him F1 is one of the biggest sports and shows in the world. We believe in time, when our Championship is out, we will be able to convince our critics that Formula E is a fantastic concept. We believe it's the future of motor racing."

One of the lingering questions that will ultimately determine whether Formula E will be successful or not, is the question of how to attract fans? Ecclestone believes it is going to be difficult to attract motorsports fans to watch "a little car, which doesn’t make any noise." Agag said that Formula E "is not a Championship focused only on the average motorsports fan."

Agag said, "Probably people like me, lifelong petrol heads, will find strange in the beginning things like the lack of sound (there is actually a sound) or other. I am a Formula 1 and GP2 lover, and I will continue to be." He added that Formula E is targeting a different kind of fan.

Agag said: "This Championship is targeting a different and younger kind of public, [which] is not at the moment into motorsport, but is keen on issues like environment, social media, free streaming, and video games." Agag believes there is a "niche for this in global motorsports scene," and considers Formula E as "complementary to F1, NASCAR or others." HJ Mai, SportsBusiness Daily

02/20/13 Formula E is expected to debut in '14 and hopes to change the perception of electric cars, which have a stigma of being impractical, slow and only a limited range, but so far the pitch isn't working on the F1 circuit's big boss. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone seems skeptical of motorsports governing body FIA's new all-electric racing series and called it "a bit of a joke."

Ecclestone reckons that Formula E is politically driven by people who "thought they ought to do something in motorsports." So, how do you attract the average motorsports fan who loves the roar of a powerful engine and the distinctive smell of burning gasoline to watch, as Ecclestone described it, a "little car, which doesn't make any noise?"

One way is to use a veteran racecar manufacturer such as McLaren to provide the drivetrain and electronics for the new series. McLaren Racing Managing Dir Jonathan Neale said, "I think it's a great opportunity for McLaren Electronics to use a lot of the know-how that we have. To have high-performance electric vehicles racing in city centers will attract a lot of people. It will entice people to look at racing and the high technology aspects and see what great leverage there is for racing pushing relevant technologies."

Formula E cars will look very similar to the single-seat, open-wheel F1 cars. The similarity between Formula E and F1 could become the new racing series' downfall, as F1 is "moving to be a much more energy constraint series," Neale said.

"We move from V8 to V6 technology next year, direct injected, turbo charged and with a much more powerful energy recovery and energy storage system, which is much more relevant to the automotive manufacturers. We will continue to push in that direction, we will be limited on the amount of fuel flow that can happen."

While Neale does not see Formula E as a competitor to F1 in the short term, he said he sees "the nature of Formula E and the direction that Formula One is going as congruent." Formula E is still a work and progress and nothing has been firmed up yet, however, the series has already two confirmed host cities, Rio de Janeiro and Rome, as well as one confirmed team, Drayson Racing. Lotus F1 Team Principal Eric Boullier said that it is too early to make any predictions, but "being involved in my previous life in many different racing series, I didn't see many of them surviving, so let's wait and see."

Meanwhile, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag did not respond to requests for comment on Ecclestone's remarks or the latest plans for the series. HJ Mai SportsBusiness Daily

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