London Evening Standard
The boss of an environmentally friendly alternative to Formula One today said he hopes London will be the springboard for electric car racing.
Spanish entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, a former chairman of Queens Park Rangers, is bringing his Formula E circuit — whose cars, which can reach speeds of up to 150mph, are electrically powered — to the capital this month, transforming Battersea Park into a race track for the championship decider.
In its inaugural season tens of thousands of spectators, including Lindsay Lohan and Natalie Imbruglia, have turned out to see the environmentally friendly alternative to elite motor racing at 10 cities including Monaco, Moscow and Beijing.
Mr Agag told the Standard he was convinced London will be the peak of the season: “We are trying to get young fans and just as Formula One has its petrol heads London could see the start of the sparkheads.”
Natalie Imbruglia with driver Nelson Piquet Jnr (Picture: Action Press/REX) He said Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone had told him “you won’t make it” when the pair part-owned QPR with former Renault boss Flavio Briatore from 2007 to 2011.
But Mr Agag, a former Spanish MEP, said Mr Ecclestone has now changed his tune, saying: “I am glad I was wrong and you were right.”
He said: “I come from the world of Formula One and felt sponsors were having a problem with the sustainability credentials of our sport. The way to fix it is to create a clean motor sport.”
Mr Agag admitted that it “could take between 10 and 30 years” and that “electrical cars will only replace combustible cars if they are better, not because they are green”.
He said Formula E proved city centre races work: “No one knew us in Miami, 35,000 people showed up. Why? Because it was under their doorsteps.”
Some Battersea residents have objected to the race on June 27 and 28 on noise and disruption grounds. Mr Agag said that he took on board their concerns but a 5am test in the park last August did not spark any complaints.
“The message was if people wake up and complain you won’t have a race. We raced the car around the park, no one woke because these cars don’t make much noise,” he said.
The Standard, which has been running a series of reports about how adopting green technology can help to improve Londoners’ lives by curbing killer air pollution, yesterday revealed a £100 million electric car revolution to turn London into the “green driving” capital of the world by overhauling its charging points and starting a city-wide electric car sharing service.