Will Formula 1 use driverless cars at some point?

Roborace: Di Grassi hopes for a separation of technology and driver talent

"You could think that Roborace will usher in a new era of emotionless motorsport. Or that the series fails and disappears again after investors run out of money. In my opinion, none of these fates will happen," writes Lucas di Grassi, top driver at Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport, at 'Autosport'.

With this, the former Formula 1 driver expresses himself about the future Formula E frame series, which he believes has a lot. At Roborace, fully autonomous racing machines will compete against each other. The first run could start this year - but in any case within the third season.

"The manufacturers agree that fully or largely autonomous cars should be the future of mobility," says di Grassi, addressing development areas such as artificial intelligence, more precise sensors and cars connected to the cloud. "The FIA ​​could use Roborace to meet manufacturers' demands to develop the technology."

At the same time, the Abt driver is committed to making "classic" motorsport more human again: "I would like to see a clear separation between the FIA ​​championships: Roborace should push economically relevant technology for autonomous cars. The other series, on the other hand, should rather entertaining, staying affordable and being more dependent on the driver. "

Talent should decide

In general, the driver's skills should be more in focus, says di Grassi: "The difference between a good and a mediocre driver is usually overlaid by the quality of the car," says the Brazilian. "It's pretty frustrating when top drivers bob around at the back of the field. In most series with open development, like Formula 1, the WEC or the WRC, a driver won't be at the front if he doesn't have a good car."

The first season of Formula E was a prime example of a balanced field of drivers, after all, all teams drove with identical equipment. In the current second season, the teams are allowed to design their own drive trains, which has increased the differences between the teams.

In Formula E, the situation is not yet as serious as in the racing series mentioned above. Nevertheless, the organizer must ensure that the field of drivers remains reasonably balanced when the technological development is approved. The best memorial is Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr., who has no chance to get involved in the currently defeated NextEV.

Nonetheless, di Grassi believes in the Formula E technical timetable: "Of course we shouldn't ban technology and in motorsport we shouldn't just rely on the past. But you should leave all driver aids, sensors, expensive gimmicks and experimental technology to Roborace or similar series. That's why I think Roborace can help motorsport and us, the drivers. "

Even if motorsport is not as popular today as it was a few decades ago, di Grassi is not worried about the future: "I don't expect motorsport to attract as many spectators as it used to be because the new generations are no longer as interested in cars . But motorsport will never die out either. There will always be enough people who simply love racing cars. "

Daniel Abt still with skepticism

Di Grassi's teammate, Daniel Abt, is still a bit skeptical about whether and how Roborace will work. The possibilities that the autonomous series brings with it, however, make him positive. "I don't know exactly what that should mean", Abt confesses exclusively to 'e-Formel.de'. "I only know the rough concept and don't know whether it will work at all or what it would look like."

Basically, the 23-year-old is in favor of "that as a series you try to find new approaches and offer the fans even more on race day. If it works, I think it's a cool thing."

When the driverless racing series was announced, many fans worried that Roborace could lose humanity in motorsport. Abt, on the other hand, is not afraid of the dominance of the machines: "I'm not afraid that it will eventually take over from the driver."

Like his team colleague di Grassi, Abt sees a great advantage in the development potential of Roborace: "But it will definitely be another platform on which the manufacturer will use others
Technologies can show. Ultimately, that ties them back to the Formula E brand. Let's take a look at it. "