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Tuesday 10th December 2013


DICAPRIO'S FORMULA E TEAM

Formula E gets final team with backing from tree-hugging Hollywood star


Announcements of celebrity endorsements tend not to interest us here at PH, but news that Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has co-founded a racing team did edge onto our radar screen. Redolent, we thought, of the late Paul Newman running Porsche 911s at Sebring and Champ Cars in the 80s with Carl Haas.

As it turns out, DiCaprio's new venture is a little different. The renowned Prius apologist - almost as famous for his environmental activism as his acting - is backing a team in the new FIA Formula E Championship for electric racing cars. Venturi Grand Prix will become the tenth and final team to sign up to the series, which gets underway in September 2014, joining British teams Virgin Racing and Drayson Racing.

Venturi's Gildo Pallanca Pastor with Formula E's Agag
Venturi's Gildo Pallanca Pastor with Formula E's Agag
"The future of our planet depends on our ability to embrace fuel-efficient, clean-energy vehicles," said the Titanic star. "Venturi Grand Prix has shown tremendous foresight in their decision to create an environmentally friendly racing team, and I am happy to be part of this effort."

Venturi Grand Prix will eventually become a constructor in its own right, building cars to Formula E regulations with powertrains that are derived from the 3,000hp motor that will, the team hopes, propel its VBB-3 land speed recordcar to 400mph.

Formula E will pit 10 teams, each running two cars, against one another on street circuits in cities including London, Beijing and Los Angeles. The series hopes to serve as a research and development platform for car manufacturers and to promote general interest in EVs.

"It's an honour and a pleasure to welcome the Venturi Grand Prix team as the 10th and final team of the FIA Formula E Championship," said series CEO Alejandro Agag. "I want to give a very special welcome to our championship to Leonardo DiCaprio. Very few environmental leaders have helped more than him to spread the message of sustainability around the world. Having people like him and Richard Branson - global ambassadors for the environment - is a privilege for out championship and will greatly help us to the spread the use of electric cars in cities around the planet."

Will we see DiCaprio on the pit wall with a set of headphones on and a couple of stopwatches around his neck? Will we hear him discuss the relative merits of a wide entry into Trafalgar Square versus a tight line? No, but his involvement with Venturi Grand Prix and the huge global interest that will inevitably generate should go some way to helping Formula E grow into a viable series rather than fade like a sinking ship.

 

Author: Dan Prosser
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