A major part of Elon Musk’s legacy has been making Tesla an electric vehicle giant, and now the CEO wants to see EVs at the center stage of racing. Musk attended the Formula One Grand Prix LSXMA in Miami, even suggesting a new kind of race in the league that includes EVs.
Above: A Tesla Model S (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).
Following the event, Musk responded on Twitter to an ESPN tweet pointing out that he was in attendance (via The Street). Musk was seen pictured with Red Bull Racing Principal Christian Horner, and he stated that the event had included a “fun discussion of aero & battery technology in F1.”
“I proposed a pure EV vs gas/hybrid F1 race,” Musk added in the tweet.
Currently, F1 vehicles average roughly between 200 and 220 mph during the straightaways of racing circuits, with some reaching speeds as high as 231 mph. There is an EV racing league called Formula E, though the cars in that league are far off from what Formula 1 cars can do at the current time, with top speeds running around 175 mph.
Tesla’s Model S Plaid has a top speed of over 200 mph, especially if tuned or upgraded specifically for racing. As one example, the four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vittel has raced tuned versions of the Model S Plaid, saying in March that the Plaid could reach top speeds of up to 217 mph (350 kph). Vittel retired from F1 last season and has been sharing videos of the Model S Plaid for the past few months.
Despite the Model S Plaid’s high speeds, other factors affect performance, such as a vehicle’s brakes. In Vittel’s recent videos, the Model S Plaid is equipped with Tesla’s carbon-ceramic brakes, set to release with the Tesla Track Package in the coming months. The carbon-ceramic brakes are said to unlock the Model S Plaid’s top speeds, which explains Vittel reaching 217 mph.
Above: Tesla Model S Plaid Nürburgring Fast Lap Test (Video: Sebastian Vittel / YouTube).
As The Street points out, it’s likely that Musk discussed braking and related factors with Horner in the aforementioned discussion on “aero and battery technology.” Tesla’s engineering team has proven that it can build some of the world’s quickest cars with the Model S Plaid’s 2-second 0-60 mph acceleration.
However, the coming years may show what the automaker can develop for longer racing applications -- and it’s certainly promising to see Musk leaning in that direction and getting involved with F1.