Is Tesla Relevant?
Formula 1 has long been synonymous with unexplainably fast cars, ear piercing noise, and the smell of burning fuel. This visceral experience has changed in the past thirteen months as the evolution of the regulations in Formula 1 have created a paradox — the engines are smaller and quieter but at the same time they also use about 30% less fuel than previous years; all while completing the same race distance in nearly the same time.
Formula 1 has accomplished this by turbocharging the engines and using thermal and kinetic energy recovery systems to power the turbo as well as recharge the battery packs which are capable of delivering approximately 200hp at specific times throughout a lap. By doing this they are able to recapture a huge amount of energy that would have otherwise been wasted through the brakes or exhaust.
Now let me introduce you to Tesla. The car company that has changed the way we view those cars that cruise by us in the carpool lane with their ‘Access OK’ stickers. Moving the stereotype away from the elderly gentleman in a grey Prius, to a sedan that is quicker to 60 than a Gallardo, 911, and just about every other production car on the market. If that isn’t proof enough, the car literally has an Insane Mode which changes the throttle mapping and power delivery to deliver the best acceleration possible. And it doesn’t end there. Tesla also wanted to ensure that all of their cars had the refinement and comfort that you would come to expect as standard from any one of the three German manufacturers.
This is why Tesla stands by the mission statement that they do not want to just make the best zero emissions car. They don’t even want to make the best electric car. They want to make the best car. Ever.
Throughout my extensive tour of their facility in Fremont, California, this passion for excellence was painstakingly obvious. It was eerily reminiscent of the precision and detail that one would expect to find in any Formula 1 factory. Both are clearly pioneering new technology and completely changing the way we view high performance through breakthroughs that we never thought were possible.
Much like F1, the technology that exists inside Tesla is massively understated and somewhat unknown. And I think this is both a positive and a negative. A negative because the general public cannot truly appreciate the new technology that is coming from these two respective operations. A positive because at the end of the day both Formula 1 and Tesla simply let the on road performance speak for itself.
I am the first to say that I miss the scream of a V10 in F1 and the thunder of a big block V8 in a Tesla, but I will also say with the utmost sincerity that after driving both — it actually doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day performance driving is about being able to become fully immersed in a car and do things that you previously didn’t think were possible. Both do this on a regular basis and for me, that is enough.