Branson: Formula E can surpass F1 in next five years

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LONDON – Virgin Group founder and Virgin Racing team owner Sir Richard Branson believes that Formula E can surpass Formula 1 in the next five years.

Branson has invested in both championships over the past six years, sponsoring Brawn GP in 2009 before setting up Virgin Racing in F1 the following year.

Virgin eventually evolved into Marussia F1 Team and saw the departure of the British brand from the sport, but Branson returned to racing in Formula E at the start of the series’ inaugural season.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s finale in London, Branson spoke about the comparisons that can be drawn between F1 and Formula E, making a bold statement about the future of the electric-powered series.

“I think there’s still going to be room for Formula 1 for another few more years, but I would say there will come a time when Formula E will overtake Formula 1,” Branson said.

“Formula E, you still hear the roar of the cars through the tarmac as they come around the corner, but at least you can have a conversation and a drink while you’re watching the race which you can’t do with Formula 1.

“I think four or five years from now you’ll find Formula E overtaking Formula 1 as far as number of people.”

Formula E has certainly enjoyed a successful debut season, proving many of its critics wrong by simply getting to the season finale in London this weekend.

Looking ahead to season two, three drivers have already announced contracts with existing teams, whilst a number of others are keen to stay on.

Technically, there is also set to be more freedom next season as manufacturers are allowed design their own powertrains.

As part of this, Virgin will be teaming up with Citroen offshoot DS Automobiles for season two to form DS Virgin Racing in a multi-year deal announced on Saturday.