A New World of Sustainable Motorsport

We are entering a new world of sustainable motorsport within mainstream motorsport that would not have been imaginable 5 years ago.

Who could have imagined that sustainability would have been one of the requirements for new teams applying to join the Formula 1 grid? Or that IndyCar would be using hybrid engines and sustainable fuel? Or that the same fossil-free fuel used by the World Rally Championship would be powering German government vehicles?

In addition to this I feature a 24-hour electric endurance race, a road rally in Newfoundland between ICE and electric vehicles, sustainable running gear and more. All this in this week’s edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its green racing news that racers can use.

Sustainable Motorsport News

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel has warned that unless the wider world of motorsport becomes environmentally friendly, it risks being “banned” in the years to come. “I think that for the future, if we want to continue practicing this sport and cultivate our passion for racing, we have to think of alternatives. Or we can continue to do things as we are used to for another couple of years before we end up with a really big problem.”

During the last year, transmission specialist Xtrac has been awarded three further accreditations attaining to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), setting emissions reduction targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), and lastly through the company’s recognition as a real Living Wage Employer. “Xtrac has a longstanding commitment to ESG matters with employee wellness at the heart of its operations, as measured by our high levels of staff retention,” explained Adrian Moore, CEO, Xtrac. “Looking after our employees helps us look after our worldwide customers and other stakeholders, ensuring that we remain at the pinnacle of our industry as it transitions from internal combustion engines to hybrid and electric vehicles. It also ensures that we maintain our exports of around 70% annually to Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas.”

Sustainable Motorsport Tech

P1 Fuels Can

FIA World Rally Championship partner P1 Performance Fuels has begun supplying German governmental armored vehicles and other official government cars with the same high-performance fossil-free fuels which had a successful debut in the WRC in 2022. The fossil-free, climate-neutral petrol blends synthetic and biodegradable elements, making it 100 per cent sustainable and usable in everyday road vehicles.

Green Racing News reports that according to Bloomberg (based on analysts from Oddo BHF), Ferrari are planning to increase the engine noise for their electric supercars. The report states that Ferrari’s electric supercars will feature a unique and distinctive engine noise crafted from an amplification system following the filing of a patent filed by the Maranello-based company covering a “reproduction device for the realization of a sound that can be associated with an electric motor.” In this way, “Ferrari will be able to increase the surround sound and move it towards one or more electric motors, which could see it implemented in its first electrified production supercar to hit the automotive market in 2025.”

I wonder if it is similar to the “Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust” system used in the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT that I mentioned in the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup back in August.

Series News

F1 Cars on the Grid

The FIA has formally launched the bid process to find up to two new Formula 1 teams as early as 2025 and sustainability is front and center of the requirements that the new teams must adhere to. “The FIA believes the conditions are right for interested parties, which meet the selection criteria, to express a formal interest in entering the championship. For the first time ever, as part of the selection conditions, we are requesting that candidates set out how they would meet the FIA’s sustainability benchmarks and how they would make a positive societal impact through sport. The process is a logical extension of the positive acceptance of the FIA’s 2026 F1 Power Unit Regulations from engine manufacturers which has attracted Audi to Formula 1 and created interest among other potential entrants.”

In addition to attracting new teams, the FIA are working to attract new engine manufacturers and have made no secret that they have increased the sustainability retirements of the 2026 power units to do so. It worked with Audi and has now worked with Ford as they specifically cite sustainability as one of the reasons they are getting involved in F1. “Ford is returning to the pinnacle of the sport, bringing Ford’s long tradition of innovation, sustainability and electrification to one of the world’s most visible stages. Our commitment to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and to introduce sustainable fuels in the F1 cars from 2026 is also an important reason for their decision to enter F1.”

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup
Photo: Marshall Pruett

IndyCar’s new 100 percent renewable Shell fuel has made its debut at this week’s IndyCar tests at the Thermal Club. The teams are using a new 100-percent renewable fuel made primarily from Generation 2 biowaste. “We are very excited to bring this 100-percent renewable race fuel to the NTT IndyCar Series,” Shell Motorsports Technology Manager Bassem Kheireddin told RACER. “The fuel consists of a significant mix of second generation ethanol that is derived from sugarcane waste. It’s the part of the sugarcane that was previously considered a waste that has been converted to ethanol, hence the name ‘Second Generation,’ because it comes from the landfill portion of the sugar cane is that does not compete with the food supply chain.”

SRO Motorsports Group has joined many highly influential companies by signing up for The Climate Pledge. The Pledge is an initiative co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism, which is committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. “In joining them, SRO has committed to three main areas of action: measuring and reporting its greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis; implementing decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris Agreement; and acting to neutralize any remaining emissions with additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially beneficial offsets to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Crucially, the initiative acknowledges that the world must move faster to build a low-carbon future.”

In what I think is a first, the 24h Langstrecken-Wettbewerb für e-SerienAutos is a 24 Hour endurance race for electric cars. The race features road-legal, fully electric cars split up into classes by power. Most laps completed in 24 hours on the Grand Prix circuit of the Hockenheimring wins so it’s a lot of strategy on charging and energy use. Motorsport Prospects contributor Ellis Spiezia will be taking part in the race when it takes place February 18-19.

In a first-of-its-kind event, Targa Newfoundland is setting the stage for a head-to-head competition of Electric Power vs. Internal Combustion. This challenge will occur as part of the Targa Newfoundland – “Race the Rock” event scheduled for September 14th to 22nd, 2023. The 2023 course travels through Newfoundland’s eastern and central parts, challenging competitors to over 1900 km. With over 500km of closed road stages and upwards of 1400 km of transits, these two distances, running for six consecutive days, will be a critical and absolute test for all, be they factory teams or private entries. Most of this event will test their vehicle’s durability, stamina and strategy, as it will require them to travel through high speed, closed roads, challenging stages, and long and short transits, all of which are conducted under the regular day-to-day, rules and regulations. As the course travels primarily throughout rural Newfoundland, there may be limited permanent charging stations. Therefore, teams will be allowed to use portable charging stations as long as they are pre-approved by the organizers. Go here for Online Registration.

The 2023 Africa Eco Race might have been pushed to 2024, but race officials hope to maintain a presence during the ongoing calendar year. On Monday, the AER announced new partnership with the Carta Rallye, which is scheduled for 12–18 March. “Following the postponing of its 15th edition, the AFRICA ECO RACE wanted to offer an alternative to its competitors,” announced the Eco Race. “Thus, a natural collaboration was set up with the CARTA Rally for its 7th edition. This event, open to all categories, shares many common values with the AFRICA ECO RACE and takes place on similar dates, from 12 to 18 March 2023 between Guelmim and the dunes of Merzouga.”

When it debuts in 2024, Extreme H will be a hydrogen-powered sibling of Extreme E, but it won’t use the Spark ODYSSEY 21 like its electric counterpart. In an interview with Autosport, Extreme E Chief Championship Officer James Taylor revealed plans of the Extreme H vehicle having a “generation two” chassis that can be fitted with a hydrogen cell. Testing is planned to start in June. As The Checkered Flag website points out, we are hearing more and more about hydrogen in motorsport. “Hydrogen in motorsport has increased in popularity in recent years, especially as the element is easily producible and does not require much energy. The HYRAZE League, organised by ADAC and HWA, was seemingly set to be the first series exclusively racing with hydrogen vehicles with an inaugural season in 2023, though few updates have come since. As a result, barring any new developments, Extreme H appears poised to claim that moniker in 2024.”

Every Little Bit Counts

Every Little Bit Counts looks at small steps that you can take to decrease your environmental impact and increase your sustainability.

  • Concluding my trilogy related to sustainable activewear (previous editions are here and here), check out Ciele Athletics. This B Corp running brand makes gear from recycled materials, including signature caps with UPF protection and reflective detailing. For all the miles you’ll run this year!
  • Racing often requires flying which can be problematic when it comes to carbon emissions but more and more airlines and companies are offering options so that you can at the very least offset them. British Airways’ CO2llaborate online platform enables customers to address the carbon footprint of their flights through the purchase of carbon offsets and/or sustainable aviation fuel. It now offers a new third option which has been provided in the form of carbon removals. Whereas traditional carbon offsets are created when a project avoids, reduces or removes additional CO2 emissions from the atmosphere, carbon removal credits are issued by nature, biomass or technology based projects that remove CO2 from the atmosphere or from the carbon cycle. The platform offers customers a choice of a combination of carbon offsetting and SAF or carbon removals and SAF, with a slider for each option to select the preferred amount of SAF. Two independently certified carbon removal projects are being supported, one restoring a mangrove forest in the Indus Delta area of Pakistan and the other a biochar project in Oregon, USA. More projects are expected to be added over time, said the airline.

The Big Picture

In The Big Picture, I look beyond motorsport to see what other sports are doing in their sustainability journey as well as the issue of sustainability generally. Hopefully this will act as a catalyst for change in the motorsport ecosystem as it demonstrates that in many ways, all sport shares some commonalities that can be tackled with achievable, measurable sustainability practices.

  • ISPO looks at sustainability trends that will keep the sports industry busy. “While some manufacturers are already leading the way in terms of sustainability or ecologically fair production conditions, others are still struggling. Innovative concepts and fair alternatives are needed! The sports industry and community is challenged to reflect on its behavior. What is my ecological footprint in terms of sports passion?”
  • Play the Game conducts a thought experiment in estimating global sports’ total carbon emissions. “It is difficult to determine exactly how much the global sports sector contributes to the world’s carbon emissions. In this article, David Goldblatt draws on case studies from international championship circuits and big profesisonal leagues to produce an estimate and assess the importance and role of sport in the world’s wider programme of climate action.”

Getting to the Track Sustainably

Getting to the Track Sustainably is my occasional column on developments in sustainable transportation that could have some application to motorsport. Since most carbon emissions come from logistics and transportation, this topic is of utmost importance as motorsport works to make itself more sustainable. Here are some articles you may find of interest.

Sustainable Land Transportation

A New World of Sustainable Motorsport

Sustainable Aviation

A New World of Sustainable Motorsport

Sustainable Shipping

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup
Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.