Interview: former F1 champion Nico Rosberg on why electric racing cars are the future

(Photo by Franziska Krug/Getty Images)

Nico Rosberg won the Formula 1 championship in 2016 before announcing his shock retirement from the sport at the age of 31. Since then he’s been busy immersing himself into the world of e-mobility and is now an investor in Formula E, a fully electric race that visits 12 cities around the world.

From May 23 – 25 this week he is helping organise the GreenTech festival in Berlin, which is the world’s largest exhibition on green technology and will see a Formula E Grand Prix race through the city’s former Tempelhof Airport.

He spoke to AirQualityNews about why he’s put his own money into electric race cars and why F1 is more sustainable than you might think.

What positive changes do you hope will come out of the Greentech festival?

The motto is to ‘Celebrate Change’. We want to get people thinking differently about the way they impact the world and how they can be ‘green’.

From the conference to the exhibition and the Green Awards we want to inspire and educate people on the amazing technology innovations coming through across the globe to build a more sustainable future for our planet.

Why did you decide to invest in Formula E? What is the potential of the brand?

I invested in Formula E because I was really impressed with what Alejandro Agag (the founder of Formula E) achieved so quickly in the first few seasons.

Formula E is becoming bigger and bigger each season. I love that they can go into the centre of a city and put on an exciting race day for a family to attend.

Your father was a successful F1 driver during the 1970s. What do racing drivers from his generation think about Formula E?

I am sure they are a little bit more sceptical as they tend to be more traditional, but I have spoken to many people of that generation in motorsport who are very impressed by it.

What is the biggest misconception you hear about Formula E cars?

I think the biggest misconception is not about the cars but more about the racing itself. A lot of people believe it is not as exciting as other motorsport options and I do not believe this to be true.

Yes, the speed is not that of F1 or NASCAR but the races are exciting and there is a very level playing field going into each race.

So many different teams have won so far this season, it’s exciting to go into watching a race not knowing who will win. The technology also improves quickly season on season, so it is amazing to watch it evolve.

How did your career in Formula 1 develop your interest in sustainability?

I think F1 developed my love of technology first and foremost. At the core of F1 is some of the best and most exciting technology in the world. This technology was of interest to me as an investor once I retired and then there has been a natural progression towards the e-mobility and sustainability sectors as they are so exciting.

So whether it’s my investments or my work creating the GreenTech Festival this is what I am finding the most inspiring field to be involved in.

F1 is a global touring brand. Is there an argument for reducing the number of races to cut the sport’s carbon footprint?

I don’t think F1 necessarily needs to reduce the number of races. If you ask any business to completely change their structure to be sustainable immediately they will not have the infrastructure to do it.

It’s more about becoming more sustainable across the board, where possible, whether that’s not using plastic in catering or finding more sustainable and efficient transport options for teams and I am sure F1 is trying to do this where possible.

Read more about the GreenTech festival here.