RETIRED Formula 1 ace Felipe Massa has revealed ambitious plans to spearhead motorsports into the Olympic Games for the first time in 130 years, with a zero-emissions karting competition chalked to make its debut in six years.
After bowing out of the F1 series last year, the Brazilian accepted a role to head up the FIA’s kart racing body – the Commission Internationale de Karting – and has grand designs to raise the profile of the sport, encouraging more people to participate and spectate.
Speaking to Brazilian talk show Conversa com Bial, Massa outlined his plans to bring motor racing to the world’s biggest sports stage.
“There are good ideas ahead,” he said. “There will be an event in Argentina, at the end of the year, an event of the Olympics. The idea is to take electric karts to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.”
According to the track star, who like many successful racers, started his career in karts, the emerging electric karting arena is in its infancy but has enormous potential. Ahead of the planned major Olympic event, Massa explained that a demonstration of the series will happen at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires later this year.
If the kart champion can pull it off, an Olympic debut is big news for motorsport.
It’s unlikely the motion would even be considered if a combustion-powered competition was pitched for the Olympic event, with the global committee under increasing pressure as a leader in sustainability and ethics.
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But with its emissions-free stamp of approval, an electric karting comp has the potential to fit in with a progressive and modern persona – not the negative portrait that is sometimes painted of high-octane fossil fuel-dependent motorsports.
There are bigger knock-on implications for the broader racing industry too. Not only would the high-profile of the Olympic Games put motorsport in the line of sight of many potential new fans of the sport, it is likely to grab the attention of many new participants, inspiring a new generation of racers.
Massa’s announcement comes at a time when electric racing leagues gain momentum, including the Formula E championship which has already spanned four seasons, and the World Rallycross Championship which will switch to pure EV racing in 2020.
In June, Volkswagen’s I.D R smashed the Pikes Peak hillclimb record, unequivocally proving the place of electric power in the future of motor racing.