New race could be electric
MELBOURNE'S Albert Park could soon play host to a grand prix of a very different kind, with officials looking to replace the high-pitched scream of an F1 car with the whine of an electric motor.
Garry Connelly, the deputy president of the FIA Institute - the trust fund set up by the worldwide motor sport authority to bridge the divide between race and road cars - says a round of the Formula E championship is being considered for Australia.
Formula E, due to kick off next year with a series of demonstration races before moving to a full championship in 2014, uses formula one technology but replaces the petrol engine with an electric drivetrain.
According to Connelly, Australia is one country being considered as a host for a single round of the international championship.
"The sole purpose of this is to put out there in front of the public that electric cars work [in motorsport], and they're fast and good to drive," Connelly told the Cars of Tomorrow conference in Melbourne today.
"It will be very interesting to see if we can host a round of the championship in Australia.
"One of the challenges, of course, is how to get some noise [out of the cars], because the idea of putting in sound is a bit of a conflict of ideas, but I'm sure the people of St Kilda will be very happy that they are silent.
"It's not actually very safe to have silent cars, so they're working out something where there will be noise generated, but it won't be [too noisy] like the current formula one."
Connelly told Drive that Formula E races will not be as long as the ones in the current formula one series because of the limitations of the electric drivetrain technology.
However, he said motor sport's highest governing authority, the Federation Internationale d'Automobile, is seeking street circuits for the event - just like the one at Melbourne's Albert Park.
According to Connelly, gaining the event for Australia is as easy as finding someone willing to give the event some financial backing.
He says the electric race series could also easily back on to an existing formula one event, meaning Victoria could potentially host both the petrol and electricity-powered events from as early as next year.