Sir Richard Branson doesn’t pull his punches. In a press conference to announce his Virgin Racing team’s link-up with DS Automobiles in Formula E, he declared that the all-electric racing series would “overtake Formula 1” in terms of popularity and significance in five years.

“In the next two or three years Formula E is going to grow as quickly as clean energy is in general. I think things are going to move that rapidly now,” he added.

He didn’t stop there, making the prediction that petrol engines will be nigh-on obsolete in road cars in the year 2035.

“I’m willing to bet that in 20 years from now there will only be battery-driven new cars being built,” he said.

“What goes on inside a petrol-driven engine is really complicated, out of date and polluting. It will disappear over the next 20 years.