Motor racing-Formula E and Formula One can be twin peaks, says Rosberg

FILE PHOTO: Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany celebrates after winning the Formula One world championship. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One's push for sustainability means it will remain the pinnacle of motor racing even as the car industry speeds towards an electric future, according to retired world champion Nico Rosberg.

The sport, once seen as a gas-guzzling, cash-burning fossil fuel playground for 'petrolheads', aims to be net zero-carbon by 2030 and has promised that all grand prix events will be sustainable by 2025.

Current grand prix cars use a highly efficient 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid power unit, and a new one due in 2025 will run 100% on sustainable fuels.

All-electric Formula E has attracted significant manufacturer interest but Rosberg, a shareholder in the city-based series, saw both FIA-sanctioned world championships co-existing as parallel peaks rather than rivals.

"The future of motor racing is sustainable," the German, who left Formula One after winning the title with Mercedes in 2016, told Reuters at the recent London e-Prix.

"You've got Formula E being the pinnacle of electric motor racing and then I think you'll have Formula One being the pinnacle of synthetic fuel motor racing.

"Both are very exciting paths and both can have a very positive impact on our world. And then in terms of mobility for all of us in our everyday use, it's going to be electric."

Rosberg, also has his own team in Extreme E -- Formula E’s all-electric off-road sister competition -- and has invested in numerous start-ups in sustainable mobility.

He is founder of the Greentech Festival, a showcase for green technology.

"Mobility is in an incredibly disruptive moment. It's very exciting what's possible. So we're going electric. We're going autonomous as well," said the German.

Formula One has been the auto industry’s incubator for motoring innovation for decades, a title now being claimed by Formula E with manufacturers like Jaguar, Mercedes, Nissan, Porsche, Mahindra and Citroen's DS brand.

Audi and BMW are leaving at the end of the 2021 campaign, however.

"We are definitely seeing what we're learning on track, being taken to the cars in the street," Nio 333 Racing’s team principal Christian Silk told Reuters in the pitlane.

"From the design of the batteries, the design of the electric motors to how we use the cars on track and how we use the cars on the street," said Silk.

"The car technology for electric cars is moving forward massively all the time...motorsport generally leads the charge, but the charge that’s being led is very quickly being followed up in what's happening on the road."

(Writing by Alan Baldwin, editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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