VW Just Killed Formula 1.

VW Just Killed Formula 1.


(car engine revving) – Volkswagen recently vowed to be more environmentally conscious. Even going so far to announce that the corporation will
not involved themselves in any gasoline combustion
powered motorsports. (engines revving) Honestly, it’s a pretty good look. And provided they follow through, and actually push the
electric motorsports forward, the move should result in
a huge leap in technology. But there’s one major downside. Volkswagen might have
inadvertently killed Formula One, a sport they’re not even involved in. A big thank you to our
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sport I watch regularly. So this story means a lot to me. But I know a lot of you
aren’t super into F1, so I’m gonna do my best to lay
the foundation for the story without you having to know
anything about the sport. We will get to the racing stuff. But for this to make sense,
we gotta go back a few years. In 2015, Volkswagen was caught cheating on their emissions tests. Their two-liter diesel
engines were pumping out crazy amounts of pollution. Far above the legal limit in the US. Their cars were equipped
with defeat devices that could detect when
the car was being tested, and change how it ran on
the fly so it would pass. Once the testing was over, the car would go back to running normally, high on power and emissions. The whole thing was called Dieselgate, and it was a huge freakin’ deal. Lots of people high up in
Volkswagen’s ranks knew about it and they were arrested. Volkswagen was fined billions of dollars, and forced to buyback
hundreds of thousands of cars all over the world. The whole scandal left a huge
black eye on the company. And what’s worse, we also found out that they
weren’t the only ones doing it. In the years since, Volkswagen has been trying
to clean up their image. They’ve installed hundreds of
electric car charging stations all over the US, and hyped
up new electric concept cars. Volkswagen’s entire concept
line is based off their modular electric drive
matrix platform, or MEB. Don’t ask me why there’s
a B in there because IDK. If I’m being totally honest,
the lineup looks great. There’s the I.D., a futuristic little
hatchback city car thing. There’s a freakin’ tasty retro
van, called the I.D. Buzz. Then in November, Volkswagen
unveiled my favorite one, the I.D. Space Vizzion with two Zs. This thing’s all wheel drive
can allegedly do zero to 60 in under five seconds. If you’ve been watching
the show for awhile, you know I’m a huge wagon guy, so I freakin’ love this thing. But there’s one MEB car in particular that threatens the balance of the entire motorsports ecosystem. It’s called the I.D. R. (upbeat music) You’ve probably heard about this car. And how it smashed every
lap record in the world. It set an all-time lap
record at Pikes Peak, the fastest electric car
to ever lap Nurburgring, and it set the all-time
record at Goodwood. The Volkswagen I.D. R is
proof that electric cars can hang with the very best
internal combustion cars in the world. And it’s a testament to
Volkswagen’s commitment to electric mobility. But the I.D. R’s speed
isn’t what threatens gas-powered race cars. It’s what the I.D. R represents
to Volkswagen that does. In November of last year, Volkswagen announced that they will quote, “be focusing their motorsport
strategy on e-mobility.” In this press release,
they remind everyone that the I.D. R was freakin’ sick. And that motorsport is the ultimate quote, “dynamic laboratory for the development “of future production
cars and on the other, “as a convincing marketing
platform to inspire people “even more towards electric mobility.” What Volkswagen is saying
is that they’re so confident in their electric future, that when people see their
cars at a race track, they’ll be like, well
those things kick ass, guess I should go buy
that space wagon now. But what the press release didn’t say is how deeply this move will
affect the entire racing world. Volkswagen is not a small company. They own a lot of brands that
you’ve definitely heard of. Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini,
Bentley, Skoda. Even motorcycle maker, Ducati. All of these brands have
a racing department. And all of them will be affected. And by extension, so
will all of the classes that these brands race in. Can you imagine touring car
racing without Audi and Porsche? What about Modo GP without Ducati? What about rally without Skoda? Didn’t think I would say
their name again did you? Now before I get too doom and gloom, I have to point out that this
plan won’t happen overnight. In that press release, Volkswagen says “Volkswagen Motorsport’s
customer sport program “will also be electrified. “The first stage will involve
different disciplines, “platforms and vehicle types
being examined and evaluated.” So it sounds like they’re gonna do it on a sport by sport basis,
and hopefully slowly. Also it should be mentioned that this only goes for factory teams. When it comes to people running turnkey, Volkswagen race cars like the Golf GTI TCR and Polo GTI R5, customer
service and spare part supply will be guaranteed in the long term. So it sounds like private
teams will be able to run Porsches and Audis all they want, and will probably get
some sort of support. But if you wanna buy a race car direct from the manufacturer, I wouldn’t count on it
unless it’s electric. So, how does all this affect Formula One? A sport that no Volkswagen
brand is even involved with? Well to answer that question, we need to enter the Speculation Zone. (upbeat music) I found this super interesting article on thejudge13.com, in
which the author lays out a pretty good argument. That Volkswagen’s move to go
all in on electric on the track will lead to a series of events in which every current agent supplier pulls out of the sport, and Formula One becomes a
spec series like Indy Car, where all the cars are
pretty much the same. I’ll leave a link to the
article in the description because it blew my mind, and
I think you should read it. The article argues that
Volkswagen’s decision is very motivated for PR reasons. And that they wanna distance themselves as far as possible from Dieselgate. They wanna go from being a huge polluter to having no hand in
climate change at all. And since Volkswagen is so big, the author believes other
manufacturers might follow suit, so they don’t look like
huge polluters themselves. Two manufacturers that
could do this are Renault from France, and Honda from Japan. Both Renault and Honda supply
engines to Formula One teams. In 2019, Renault built
engines for their factory team in McLaren. Honda built engines for two
teams, RedBull and Toro Rosso. The rest of the field is
powered by either Mercedes or Ferrari-built power units. If Honda pulled out of Formula One, the consequences for RedBull
and Toro Rosso would be dire. The RedBull car is actually
really freakin’ good, and was able to bring the fight to Merc and Ferrari last year, with their less powerful Honda engine. Will Ferrari or Mercedes
willingly sell their engines to their biggest threat? I don’t think so. And that’s just what would
happen if Honda left. What if Renault left too? It could happen. Since the downfall of disgraced
Renault CEO, Carlos Ghosn, the boardroom over there has been insane. According to motorsport.com,
Clotilde Delbos, I butchered that, Reanult’s
interim chief executive, raised eyebrows when she
confirmed a deep review of the company’s business, which included its continued
participation in F1. Renault is looking into
the possibility of exiting. No doubt they saw VW’s electric
motorsport announcement and thought, hmm, maybe we
could pull the chute too. That’s my French. If both Honda and Renault left Formula One around the same time, the chain
reaction that would follow would most likely change the entire sport in a massive way. (upbeat music) We’re seeing the electric car market take off as we speak. If everyone starts buying electric cars over gas-powered ones,
Honda and Renault probably aren’t gonna see any
reason to keep developing their gas engines, heck, Mercedes already thinks this. You might remember from a few weeks ago, but Mercedes stopped development on their internal combustion engines because as far as they’re concerned, theirs is as good as
they’re ever gonna make it. So they have to be asking,
why keep spending money on new racing engines if
we’re done perfecting those for the consumer? A key point for the Honda pullout theory that The Judge 13 brings
up is that Honda recently committed to powering
RedBull through 2021. But no word on anything after that. On top of that, Honda announced last year at the Geneva Autoshow that
they plan on only selling electric cars in Europe by 2025. That’s some pretty compelling evidence. But I’m not convinced that a Honda exit would happen overnight. In early January, lead RedBull
driver, Max Verstappen, extended his contract
with RedBull to 2023. This is pretty huge. Max is insanely talented, and can easily fight for a championship in a Mercedes or Ferrari if he wanted to. Staying with RedBull for three more years tells me that Honda will
probably stick around that long to support him. But of course, I could be totally wrong. This is the Speculation Zone after all. Maybe Honda does leave in 2021, with Renault right behind them. Maybe Mercedes says peace
out and focuses on their Formula E electric racing effort, fighting against Porsche,
a Volkswagen brand. Maybe all the top F1
talent moves to Formula E as the cars get even better. Maybe there will be a day where
that electric Formula E car totally embarrasses a Formula
One car at a classic circuit like Monaco. Maybe the cars will be
so unbelievably fast that we’ll forget what
we were worried about in the first place. I’m sold man, I’m sold. This is just sick right, look at this go! And just watch some good-ass racing. Maybe. All right so what do you think? Is Formula One doomed? I mean a theme in all of the electric car wheelhouse episodes is that
it is gonna happen eventually, the takeover. It’s gonna happen. It’s just inevitable. But I don’t think it’ll be as
fast as people are afraid of. Like I get it, I love the engine noise. I, I mean, you go to a drag strip, gas-powered cars just sound
better, that’s the truth. But I don’t think it’s as bad
as people might be fearing. I think it’s okay. What do you think? Am I totally off the mark here? Is this an interesting theory? Be kind, I’ll see you next time.