Volvo’s VP of Marketing and Sales Alain Visser recently confirmed it was not one of the manufacturers Alejandro Agag announced were joining Formula E from next season, but that they’re closely watching the all-electric series’ progress.
Visser’s comments in an interview with Auto Motor Sport come as Volvo has suggested it will phase out its factory support for motorsport altogether, including in V8 Supercars despite immediately seeing success last year with Scott McLaughlin’s four race wins. Volvo is seeking to build a more environmentally-conscious brand image, meaning conventionally-powered motorsport doesn’t fit their “DNA”. Even the World Endurance Championship’s hybrid-power emphasis doesn’t sway them, as Visser says (and right now, I think he’s got a point, given the calendar is entirely 6-hour races besides Le Mans):
“I would say that Le Mans is the absolute dumbest racing class you can run… It cost 20 million euros to drive a car and you get press coverage for 24 hours. Then it's quiet for a year! There are clearly better investments.”
And it appears the mix of eco-friendly image and lower running costs is making Volvo interested in Formula E, with the potential to grow its audience and the cars’ planned performance upgrades in the coming years.
“Audience figures and press coverage are still quite limited but this is a motor racing concept which I absolutely believe can grow. We follow the series very carefully and have undertaken really detailed analysis but we have not yet taken a decision… I rank Formula E as the most competitive motorsport right now. That much I can say.”
He clearly was also watching the craziness unfold in Buenos Aires two weeks ago.
In other news...
- Marco Andretti should continue driving for Andretti Autosport in the North American rounds at Miami and Long Beach, but scheduling conflicts with Indycar mean he will likely miss the last three rounds in Europe. Andretti reflected on a difficult debut in Buenos Aires by telling Autosport: "I'd like to do more... But we need to make sure that we really show up ready next time."
- Jarno Trulli will not have to serve a ten-place grid penalty at the next race in Miami in March. The Trulli GP team asked the FIA for clarification and it was revealed to be a mistake since Trulli already served the same penalty for changing a gearbox in one of his cars.
- Jaime Alguersuari has claimed Formula E is “absolutely” the future when talking to Motorsport.com. I’m not sure he’s being entirely fair on his former racing home, but he thinks that F1 could learn a lot from it: “People want fun, they want diversity. They don’t want to see anyone winning a race in the first lap and that’s it. And that’s Formula E; a dynamic race where many things happen, where every single driver is professional, where teams and brands are professionals as well and trust in this as a future marketing base to be able to affect car sells. And that’s what Formula 1 should be.”
- The Greenpower Trust is holding a launch event in London on Feburary 25th to promote the Formula E Schools Series, which will run the same circuit around Battersea Park as the regular series cars in June this year, posting this image on their Facebook page for any interested schools.
- On the topic of Battersea Park, we now have our first rFactor sim of the circuit, this YouTube example using a Formula E mod. The first half of the lap looks sweepingly quick, but hopefully it’s not quite so tight!