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F1 set for electric starts - literally!

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F1 set for electric starts - literally!
Jul 22, 2011, 9:40 AM

With the publication this weekend of the FIA F1 Technical Regulations and talk of the cars running on electric only in the pit lane, one of the thi...

With the publication this weekend of the FIA F1 Technical Regulations and talk of the cars running on electric only in the pit lane, one of the things which hasn't been considered is "electric starts".

A careful reading of the regulations shows that teams are allowed to use electric off the startline from 2014. With the current regulations they must use the petrol engine only at the start and the KERS must only kick in when the car reaches 100km/h.

As the 2014 rules are written currently, we could have the opposite situation, with cars using electric only off the line and then the engine kicking in once the car is moving.

But this would lose all the shattering noise, power and thrill of 24 cars unleashing 750 horsepower, which is one of F1's key signatures.

As things stand, the ERS system (replacing KERS, it will have twice the power at 120KW or 160hp) will be sized and designed around its use in the pitlane and particularly the launch from the pit box after a tyre stop.

But it will also work well off the startline because there will be little or no wheelspin and it's easier to achieve a constant torque with an electric motor compared to a petrol engine and carbon clutch.

Two F1 technical directors have told me that this is a route the teams may well go down. If the rules are left as they are teams will certainly be testing this a lot.

But there is likely to be a big row over this; there was quite a debate in recent months about the noise of the 2014 engines with the original FIA plans to introduce four cylinder 1.6 litre engines shelved largely on noise grounds, in favour of a V6 which will rev to 15,000rpm.

Bernie Ecclestone is implacably opposed to F1 having anything other than screamingly loud engines, as he told me earlier this month,

"People love it (the sound) they come to an F1 race and it’s magic," he said. "(The high pitched sound?) Yeah. We had the 12 cylinders that sounded fantastic. As long as it’s got a lot of noise. People love to go for the noise.”

And Hayley Fox, one of the JA on F1 readers who won a weekend at the British Grand Prix, wrote in her account of the weekend that the experience of the start had made her a fan for life,

"Well the start soon arrived and the feeling I got when 24 cars roared past in anger I’m sure to be a fan for life after experiencing that," she said.

Can you imagine a quiet start for F1?

What do you think of the idea of electric starts in F1?

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Series Formula 1
Tags innovation