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Sir Richard Branson: Formula E will be bigger than F1 by 2020

Manuel Goria/Sutton Images

Former F1 team owner Sir Richard Branson thinks Formula E will overtake it as the top motorsport series by the end of the current decade.

Branson's Virgin Group owned the outfit currently known as Manor between 2010 and 2011, but the English businessman has since moved away from F1 and founded a team in the all-electric Formula E series. While F1 appears to currently be at a critical juncture regarding its future, Formula E has proudly branded itself a vision of the future of motor racing and the car industry in general.

Speaking to media ahead of the finale of Formula E's maiden season at Battersea Park in London, Branson said: "I think four or five years from now you'll find Formula E overtaking Formula One in terms of number of people [watching] and more and more, as time goes on, clean energy businesses are going to power ahead of other businesses.

"There's still going to be room for Formula One for a few more years but I would say there will come a time when Formula E will overtake it. With Formula E, you can still hear the roar of the cars from the tarmac as they come through a corner, but at least you can have a conversation and a drink when you're watching which you can't do with Formula One."

Branson, who also stated his belief there will only be battery-powered cars on the road in 20 years, thinks the reaction to Formula E's inaugural season highlights its potential popularity.

"To have this many people in the press tent says it all, and to have got these beautiful sites - the site here is one of the prettiest in the world - and it's so well organised. It's captured the imagination of the public and in the next two or three years I think it's going to grow as quickly as clean energy generally is."