Today, Friday, June 21, 2013, promises to be a pivotal one for motorsport. On the plus side, Nissan’s innovative, eye-catching and downright inspiring Zero Emissions On Demand (ZEOD) racer has just been unveiled.
It’s a typically ballsy project from Nissan, which is developing a neat touch for thinking faster and more flexibly than its rivals. Here is proof that daring to be different can pay dividends; I doubt any manufacturer involved in Le Mans this weekend bar the outright winner will garner more headlines than the Nissan ZEOD.
Better still, Nissan is using the project to throw the spotlight on its hybrid and electric technology. I’ve never really bought the guff about motorsport improving road cars (in my experience the technology usually flows the other way), but there’s no question that Nissan is expertly using motorsport to spread its message of leadership in alternative powertrain technology.
And on the negative side? The intriguing but ultimately hugely damaging tribunal proceedings brought about by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, against Mercedes and Pirelli.
The rights and wrongs of this case will come out later today, but regardless of the outcome the most damaging aspects of the case may already have happened. Can huge multi-nationals with the weight of corporate responsibility hanging over them really put up with being accused of cheating, let alone found guilty of it?
Fact is, Formula 1’s history should make it a no-go for all car manufacturers: it’s in the sport’s nature to push every boundary it encounters, and inevitably that leads to crossing the line on occasions, both in and out of the paddock. Love it or hate it, F1 plays out against a murky backdrop that should set alarm bells ringing in companies that have to care about such things.
Bravo, then, Nissan and the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, which sets the rules of the competition and is free-thinking enough to encourage innovation. If only more manufacturers and rule makers in motorsport had their courage and conviction.