Prost on ‘stupid’ hybrid, diesel and petrol bans

I have written and spoke about the recent bans on petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035-40 in many European countries. I know I am a bit of a broken record on this front but I find this kind of artificial stake in the ground as lacking deep, introspective logic for all corners of mobility. It is much easier to say than to do and the collateral damage could be catastrophic.

I understand the desire to move away from fossil fuels although I do believe there are very good counter arguments to this being organic and a substance the Earth know how to deal with as well as CO2 which is a fundamental element in our atmosphere. Not arguing right or wrong but compelling arguments on both sides.

You’re most likely tired of me prattling on about it but I did find today’s article at AS interesting with regards to Alain Prost and his thoughts not eh topic.

“I am really upset about what I can see today with the automobile industry,” said Prost.

“We are going to give everything to the Chinese [automotive industry] where in 10 years’ time, they are going to introduce their cars here – and that is what I don’t like.

“It is stupid, stupid regulation. We’re going to lose I promise you, one million people [employees] in the next 10 years in the automobile industry if we don’t change that.”

Honda had announced this week that the “electrification” of the automotive world has put pressure on their investment in hybrid technology in F1. Like Prost, I’ve argued that electric isn’t the only path to consider and if it is, then Formula E is the perfect vehicle for that innovation if the manufacturers want to stop building Internal Combustion Engines (ICE).

Formula 1 has a decision to make and Prost agrees. Does it want to be an entertainment business or a rapid prototyping lab for Mercedes and others who might wish to move to an all-electric format? If it does, Formula E has a lock on that format in the EU. There is a collision of financial investments that will not be simple to untangle.

“You don’t want to go with electrical because we have FE, and you know how difficult it is going to be for FE in the future that is for sure,” he said.

“So what is the technology for F1 in the future? It is difficult to know. On one side, and it’s not my position, we go back to 12 cylinder and we have the same vision of F1 worldwide.

“Or, if we go to hydrogen in 10 years time, we would have another philosophy. Why not?

“But who is going to push the button and make that decision? It’s very difficult, but it’s good to ask the question.

“We need to talk about sustainability all the time, but the technology is very, very difficult.”

As I said on the recent podcast, we are relatively decent and creating energy but not the best at storing it and as a person in the technology business my entire life, I’ve often argued that one of the biggest limiting factors of our advancement is battery technology. I know it’s not easy and when you convert energy, the byproduct is typically heat but this is why I advocate incentivizing multiple paths including Hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

It’s not an easy question to answer but I’m not sure why we have to have a complete answer in 15 years. Surely science and evaluation will produce and evolutionary path that will make the most sense on how we can safely create energy on demand like we do now.

In the end, F1 has a decision to make and I know the choice I would make and it agrees with Prost.

“You have to consider if it’s only technology, then F1 is dead,” he said.

“You have to have a mix of everything and that’s where we are at the moment.

“That’s why I’m not very pessimistic, but we need to find the best way for the next five to seven years.”

F1 is more than just technology for manufacturers. It is human as well.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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One thing is for sure, Todt is not going to push the button.
Prost for FIA president!