Photo: BILD
17.05.2020 | 6 minutes

Interview with Heinz-Harald Frentzen: “Motorsport Needs to Become Sustainable and Efficient”


Racing driver icon Heinz-Harald Frentzen has made electric cars socially acceptable in motorsports. The former Formula One racer also relies on e-mobility in his private life. He charges his car particularly smart at home.

Mr. Frentzen, you have been a homeowner since 2015. You have solar panels on the roof and a combined heat and power unit to supply your home with power. What’s more, your family drives electric cars. How many charging points do you have?

So far, we have managed with two. But since our daughters are gradually working on getting their driver licenses, we probably don’t have enough charging stations in our garage.

Why are sustainability and e-mobility so important to you?

You invariably turn to e-mobility in combination with sustainable energy generation if you want to protect the environment and natural resources. I am certain.

Do you balance out your energy gain from solar power with the kilowatt hours required for your electric vehicles?

Of course. And not only overall, but also on a daily basis. It has now become a habit for me to charge the vehicles whenever I produce excess electricity. To be honest, it’s particularly fun then.

How important is smart charging of electric cars to you? For example, do you try to charge them when electricity is cheap and do you make sure that the charging speed and power is adapted to the available grid capacity?

I produce more electricity at home than I consume, so for the most part, I don’t take into consideration affordable charging times or grid capacity. I think that people who generate their own electricity for e-mobility are practitioners of the highest form of smart charging.

Do you also take longer trips in an electric car, or do you use one for city driving exclusively?

Everything is easily accessible: Stuttgart, Munich, Hamburg, Berlin. It’s even possible to go to the south of France to buy wine with a good conscience in terms of ecology.

E-mobility and the Formula E are changing the face of racing. How can and do you want to become more involved in this area?

I have already made a decisive contribution by being one of the very first to introduce e-technology to motorsport. Many of my ideas have since become established in this field. But I also have to say that for idealistic reasons I have invested a lot of my own money.

The Apollo of Heinz-Harald Frentzen on the race track.. Photo: imago

Electric vehicles are quite heavy because of the batteries, which is a disadvantage. Do you see a solution there already?

We are only at the beginning of the development. And I am already very satisfied with the weight/range ratio of my vehicle, a Tesla with a range of approximately 500 kilometers. Take a look at the development over the past ten years and then look into the future. So please don’t think linearly, but exponentially.

Do you still follow the Formula One?

Of course, I’m still fascinated by the interplay of man and machine. Top performance, strategy, exciting duels – all of this is still fascinating, regardless of the technology used.

In 2008, you entered the 24 Hours Nürburgring race with a DIY hybrid sports car whose energy recovery system was adopted by the Formula One a year later. Do you see yourself as a pioneer?

My motivation was that motorsport must change towards sustainability and efficiency. In my opinion, motorsport needs to be exciting and entertaining, and it also needs to be a pioneering – for fans and the automotive industry alike.

What happened to the school project of one of your daughters, where you converted your first go kart from 1983 and fitted it with an electric motor?

Two things. We’re still in the middle of it, technically speaking. But it’s also how my daughter discovered her passion for go kart racing. And I really have to push myself hard to remain the fastest in the family.

Biography:

Heinz-Harald Frentzen was born in Mönchengladbach, Germany, in 1967. From 1994 to 2003, he raced in a total of 157 Grand Prix races in the Formula One, won three times, and became vice world champion in 1997. In 2004 he switched to the DTM and drove for Opel and Audi for three years. Afterward he actively participated in endurance racing and in the Speedcar Series. He also competed in the ADAC GT Masters in 2011 and 2012. Since 2005 he has been working for the Formula E, has already tested several electric cars (for Tesla, among others) as well as driving them in his private life. Heinz-Harald Frentzen lives with his wife and his three daughters near Düsseldorf, Germany.


interview
image

Also interesting

Five Differences Between Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Cars

    Read more

Let’s Check the Facts: How Do Electric Cars Score in Terms of Their Environmental Footprint?

    Read more

;