The field at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Photo: Charles Coates (Getty Images)

Perhaps in attempts to rival Formula E as “world’s quietest racing series” so everyone will shut up about that noise stuff, Formula One motorsport boss Ross Brawn said recently F1 could go all-electric within 10 years. But Formula E would like F1 to step off, because it apparently can’t try that until 2039.

It’s not really some covert ploy to get everyone to stop whining about bringing the loud V8s back, of course. ESPN quoted Brawn as saying he wants F1 to move in the direction of the rest of the world to stay relevant, that there’s “nothing to stop [F1] having electric Formula One cars in the future.”

But Formula E boss Alejandro Agag told Autosport there’s plenty stopping F1 from going electric, like its contract with both series’ governing body, the FIA. “Basically, they can’t,” he said, because Formula E has a license with the FIA for 25 seasons and the series is only four seasons into existence.

Here’s what Agag said, from Autosport:

“So the earliest Formula 1 could go electric is 2039, if we don’t renew our agreement with the FIA then, but I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t renew for longer. [...]

“If they want to talk to me then of course that’s a different question - I’m always open to talk to people.

“But without talking to me there is no way they can do anything fully electric.”

Brawn had a lot to say about Formula E when talking about F1 potentially going electric on F1 Fan Voice, including that he likes what Formula E “is doing and what it’s achieving.” But he also had some less flattering stuff to say, calling it “very junior” compared to F1’s appeal. (F1 had its first race in 1950, Formula E in 2014.)

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From ESPN, via that interview:

“At the moment they don’t deliver the spectacle, and with all due respect if you go to a Formula E race it is a pretty junior category of motor racing. It’s a great event in terms of all of the stuff that is going on around it, but the race itself is pretty tame when you compare it to a Formula One event. The cars are not particularly fast, you don’t have the personalities involved but they are doing a fabulous job at putting on an event and making it a street party.

“Formula One is different to that, Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, the speeds we do, the calibre of drivers we have and the teams we have, and if that moves in five or ten years’ time to a different power source then we will do it if that is most appealing and achieves what we want to achieve. I don’t see Formula One being locked into internal combustion engines forever, but who knows where we are in ten years. [...]”

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Agag told Autosport he didn’t think all of that was disrespectful, which proves him to be better than myself, who would have been pulling off my heels and asking somebody to hold them while I got ready for a smackdown. (Just kidding, about the heels part. I wear heels like once a year.)

From Autosport:

“We are very big admirers of Formula 1,” he said. “We are big fans and we never change that line.

“[But] it’s interesting that these comments come now because Formula E has been growing so fast.

“I think that makes quite a lot of sense - after seeing how Formula E is growing I can understand that some people in Formula 1 are thinking to go full electric. [...]

“But what [I understand from] those comments is that basically there may be the possibility of Formula 1 going full electric, but clearly that’s not possible without talking to us because we have exclusivity with the FIA. [...]”

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If we’re taking bets, the safe bet is probably that F1 will get what it wants, when it wants—whether that be F1 cars jumping off of ramps or going electric.