LONDON (Reuters) – Honda’s exit from Formula One at the end of next year is bad news for all motorsport, the founder of the electric Formula E series Alejandro Agag said on Friday.
The Japanese carmaker, which quit as an F1 constructor in 2008 but returned as an engine manufacturer in 2015, said it wanted to focus on zero-emission technology such as fuel cells and batteries.
The decision leaves Red Bull Racing and sister team AlphaTauri seeking engines for 2022 with only three manufacturers — Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari — remaining in Formula One.
Agag, whose city-based series has attracted strong manufacturer interest and enjoys full FIA world championship status, played down a suggestion that Honda’s move strengthened Formula E.
“I see it as bad news for motorsport in general. I don’t see this as good news for Formula E and bad news for Formula One,” the Spaniard, who is also launching an Extreme E off-road series next year, told Reuters.
“We in Formula E also need Formula One to be successful because we don’t see each other as competitors. We see each other as on the same boat and competing against tennis, football and other sports.
“If one manufacturer leaves motorsport, it doesn’t mean it’s going to come through another door to us. It may stay out of motorsport altogether so that’s not good news.”
Formula One and Formula E are linked through U.S. media mogul John Malone, whose Liberty Media owns the commercial rights to the former series while Liberty Global is a significant shareholder in the latter.
Agag, who also recently unveiled plans for an electric powerboating series, said electrification was an unstoppable trend but that did not mean there was no space for Formula One in future.
He compared the situation to horse racing continuing to thrive long after horses ceased to be a regular form of transport.
“There will always be a space for combustion motorsport but it won’t be related to the industry. I think the industry will eventually only focus on electric motorsport,” said the Spaniard.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)
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