Honda World Touring Car Cup driver Tiago Monteiro believes electrification makes “more sense” for touring cars than for single-seaters amid the changing landscape in motorsport and the wider automobile industry.
The WTCR has yet to formally announce plans to incorporate electric or hybrid powertrains in the future, with the FIA saying in 2019 that such a move could take a “few years” due to the costs involved in developing such technology.
By contrast, the British Touring Car Championship is set to move to hybrid power in 2022, with Cosworth winning a tender to supply a standard unit to all teams, featuring a 60 volt battery.
Former Formula 1 driver Monteiro, who has been a regular in WTCR and its predecessor World Touring Car Championship since 2007, said manufacturers have more to gain by electrifying touring cars due to their physical resemblance to their road-going counterparts.
“As you can see commercial cars are getting more and more electrified obviously and this will be the future at least in the short term, maybe medium term even like 10-15 years we are going to have more and more electric cars,” Monteiro said.
“Therefore motorsport will have to align as well with this.
“Now, I think it makes more sense to have electrical vehicles in touring cars.
“At the end of the day we are here to promote brands, to promote cars and to make manufacturers sell cars on Monday after the race.
“And what better than a car that looks like your road car on a day to day basis.
“If you have an electric race car and it wins, it’s the best promotion you can have in order to sell cars during the week.
“So I think even more than single-seaters, electric should be in touring cars and probable GTs very soon.”
WTCR promoter Eurosport Events has been working on a new all-electric touring car championship by the name of Pure ETCR that will make its competition debut in 2021.
Monteiro considers the new series as “the first step'” towards WTCR itself going fully electric in the coming years.
“As you know the ETCR championship is also starting and building up, created by the same people that created WTCR, promoted by the same promoter,” he said.
“I think this is the first important step in this direction.
“It’s still very early days, it has a lot of potential, it has a lot of interest and now we have to see how the manufacturers will look into that. It’s a huge potential, there is a huge potential.
“And there is a huge opportunity for WTCR to maybe in time, I’m not saying one or two years, but in time to switch to electrical full-time.
“It’s the wishes of the manufacturers and this is where money is coming for motorsport – more than sponsors, it’s first the manufacturers. Championships have to adapt to it.”
Esteban Guerrieri, who finished second in last year’s WTCR title fight to Hyundai’s Norbert Michelisz, said the opportunity to promote green credentials and test new technologies makes electric racing series a more compelling proposition than their combustion engine counterparts.
“Well I agree of course this is now the electrified world,” Guerrieri said.
“But some important point I’ve seen in Formula E, five years ago is that it a platform for development for the manufacturers and that’s one of the key points I feel why Formula E was so successful.
“I think there is a platform there for so much development that we not even realise, that’s why I think all the manufacturers are going that way. Plus, the environmental purpose as well.
“So these two things are much more stronger than probably making the cars so spectacular on track because of sound and everything.”
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