F1 back-tracking on electric propulsion in pit lanes

Formula One racing certainly holds an electrifying level of excitement for the legions of fans around the world, but don't go counting on that translating to electric propulsion just yet.

We recently reported on the FIA's new technical regulations for 2014 and beyond, which, in addition to switching from 2.4-liter V8s to 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engines, also called for an expansion of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System. Currently KERS allows the cars to store some of the energy normally lost under braking in a battery for redeployment under acceleration. The new system, as outlined in the updated regulations, would allow for a larger battery that could also store energy recovered from the exhaust heat. That energy, however, would have to be used in the pit lanes, where the conventional internal combustion engine would have to be switched off.

The move raised a lot of eyebrows and even some safety concerns, particularly from the Renault camp which powers a growing number of teams on the grid and which feared that, with personnel and cars operating in such close proximity in the pit lane, eliminating the engine noise would be downright dangerous. Those on the commercial side of the sport (such as Bernie Ecclestone and the individual race promoters) meanwhile expressed concern that the electric-only propulsion in the pit lane would drive away fans who come for the noise, and thus endanger the economic viability of the series.

Ecclestone is so against the idea, in fact, that he reportedly insists it won't come to fruition. The FIA, for its part, has yet to rescind that particular part of the rules, but with the power that old Bernie yields we'd be surprised to see it go forward against his objections.

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