It is no longer news that electric cars can be faster than internal combustion-powered cars in competitions. But the future is not only electric.
The historic Goodwood Hillclimb has a new record, and it was set by an electric car. It shall be no surprise if it becomes the tendency. But will electric cars eventually replace petrol?

From 1999 to 2019, Goodwood’s record stood at 41.60 seconds, with Nick Heidfeld’s (DEU) Formula 1 McLaren MP4/13. In 2019, the record was broken by Romain Dumas (FRA) in a Volkswagen I.D. R (39.9 seconds), an electric car that broke several historic track and Hillclimb records. This week, Max Chilton (ENG) broke the record with another electric vehicle, the McMurtry Spéirling -a concept car-, timing 39.08 seconds.

A few years ago, FIA sanctioned some alternative electric Championships, mostly in regularity rallies. Then came Formula E, which took off in 2014 after its launch two years prior.  In the first season, cars had to be changed mid-race because the batteries would not hold for a 40-minute race.

Today, Formula E’s cars hold for the entire race. They are increasingly faster and more reliable. The World Touring Car Cup -which should in theory share some technology with the road cars- has been smart and while they have kept the WTCR, they also run the FIA ETCR – eTouring Car World Cup, with electric cars.

If the theory holds that eventually, electric cars are going to displace you, better it be you that does it! MotoGP is also sanctioning the FIM MotoE World Cup, and several race categories have embraced hybrid and electric racing, including sport prototypes, rally, and rallycross.

For many aficionados, the sound provided by a petrol engine is part of the spectacle. It is hard to imagine a NASCAR race without the sound of V8 engines. But so it was difficult to think about Formula 1 losing its roar. It has, and it is as popular as it has ever been.

Electric, however, is not the only sustainable alternative to petrol-based fuel. Pikes Peak also featured a Hydrogen-powered car. The FIA World Endurance Championship -which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans in its calendar- is testing a car that also ran in Goodwood powered by hydrogen. If it can successfully compete for an outright win at Le Mans, the technology could also be applied to road cars.

Formula 1 announced in 2019 a sustainability plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030. Part of it includes a “100% sustainable fuel” based on internal combustion, citing that the majority of cars will still have internal combustion by then, but implementing technology such as carbon capture to produce the fuel Whatever it is, it will be interesting.

IndyCar also announced last month that they will introduce a “100% sustainable fuel” with an ethanol base (such as they do today) and biomass. IndyCar has used ethanol fuel for a very long time. The car’s engine still sounds spectacular and the cars remain the fastest in motorsport, behind dragsters…Which in many cases also uses alcohol as fuel.

The years to come will be interesting in terms of fueling vehicles for sport and everyday life. The premise that now should be rebutted is that electric cars are necessarily slower. The last years at Goodwood have been able to prove that.