As Ernest Hemingway once seemingly said,
“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”
Whether or not Ernest Hemingway really said that, there’s no question that motor racing, or motorsports is one of the most demanding sports in this world, not just games and not for the faint hearted. Today, it’s maybe play it’s part as an entertainment, but still, a sport, and not just a game and show.
On the highest level of the sport, there’s Formula One, the elites and the most extreme ones are competing with each others. On world level, there’s a lot of motor racing branches and styles as we know it, Endurance Racing, with WEC, Rallying, with WRC, and many others Touring Cars and Sports Car Racing all around the world. But how they will evolve and, with the rise of Formula E and EV (electric vehicle) and driverless cars, how long they will stay?
Motor Racing and Motor Sports are no stranger to be used as real world lab and testbeds of many car manufacturers; racers, designers, mechanics and engineers, and the technology from racing world that trickled down to everyday road cars, from performance engine to first-class safety features that can save lives, to how to create a fuel efficient high powered car, and a high performing and top notch tyres quality.
But, as I said earlier, with the rise of silent EV and the possibilities of driverless car in the future, how the motor racing will evolve? How the human elements will stay in it to make the public stay interested as a form of entertainment? Currently Formula E is the world leading electric vehicle competition, racing in the streets in the middle of the city because their clean emission and low noise, catching interest from many general public even those without prior knowledge or interest in motor racing or cars in general. Their race events are seems interesting, with close racing because of the field is bunched up as the technology is still new and the performance convergence is still possible because of the rules and spec-things in a lot of their cars. The electric and battery technology is slowing opened up to encourage developments, soon, the RnD battle and technological advancement will rapidly going better and faster. It may or may be not, one day, Formula E and Formula 1 will be merged as the main source of power of the car is electric.
Whether it will stay entertaining and interesting is debatable, as a lot of motor racing fans will not consider a electric car racing as “motor” racing, but as the technology advanced, maybe someday the electric motor will be as powerful as combustion engine nowadays and the question of speed in electric racing can be answered. The debate on this matter has become a hot topic in a lot of motor racing forum all around the world, we will say how it shaped.
Another technological advancement aside from EV, software become more and more smarter and accurate and consistent, they can replace human part in driving the car and driverless car will be the norm. This is, for me, is a more a threat for motor racing than the how the car can be powered. As the driverless car may become the norm, the interest in driving will wane, and can become a lost art, and high quality driver will become rare each year. It may still a long way in the future, but with currently, the interest in car in general in the young generation is not as hot as prior generation, a lot of motorsports event struggling to attract enough attendances to keep their event paid. Young and upcoming driver still coming and diamond like Max Verstappen will still can be found, but for how long, time will tell.
There’s a rise and talk about Roborace, which is some kind of driverless car running around in circle very fast, for me, is not a sustainable way to attract people interest. Without human factors directly in action, driverless car become less interesting for general audiences as we as human, become less connected because there’s no human to look up for, as heroes, driving like crazy. Watching Robots racing each others in the track is as exciting as watching paint dry. As the prospect of human mistake is negligible, unless the engineer making a mistake in programming their robot, there’s no entertainment part in it.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea of driving algorithms competing with each others is sounds cool and it can advance the self driving cars technology to the next level with race competition. But the sustainability of the competition is questionable, without human factors, the entertainment part is missing, thus, the value of racing entertainment and to attract the money in is a difficult. No fans, no money, no sponsors. Well, it’s not a sport, at least. Or it is?
Motorsports will facing a challenging future soon enough, with the new engine propulsion coming and software become more and more normal in the cars. Soon enough, a car will become a big, engined, wheeled computer without the need of human driving it. With the cars culture shifting, I hope the worst thing is only we will see the shift to electric powered car like Formula E become the normal “motor”sport to look up to, not algorithm battling in a track.