An Invitation to Learn About Sustainable Motorsport

Consider this week’s column an invitation to learn about sustainable motorsport. Inspired by Sebastian Vettel’s “Invitation” tee-shirt, if you were not aware of some of the ongoing developments in sustainable motorsport, this is a great introduction to the topic.

I have information on everything from a hydrogen-powered motorsport-focused engine to how the Audi RS Q e-tron will save more than 60% of its carbon dioxide emissions at the 2023 Dakar Rally.

I also feature developments in Formula E, Extreme E, MotoGP and more. Sustainable motorsport tech, running motorsport events in a more sustainable manner and a scholarship for young drivers interested in racing electric single-seaters are just a few more sustainable motorsport nuggets that comprise this week’s edition.

After a break of a week, it is nice to be back with another jam-packed edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup, green news that racers can use.

Sustainable Motorsport News

FIA President’s Awards

Created to honor the FIA Member Clubs whose commitment brings sustainable and measurable change within the FIA community and society at large, the FIA President’s Awards celebrate outstanding contributions in the fields of Climate Action, Road Safety, and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. The FIA received 51 applications from all regions of the world, out of which 9 were shortlisted. FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid, FIA Deputy President for Automobile Mobility and Tourism Tim Shearman, FIA Senate President Carmelo Sanz de Barros as well as members of the FIA Administration took part in the pre-selection process and assessed all 51 projects against five evaluation criteria: Relevance, Legacy, Innovation, Sustainability and Impact.

You can read about the shortlisted projects here.

Two-time Baja 1000 champion and double Crandon winner RJ Anderson thinks that Extreme E can provide a template for traditional off-road racing in the United States as electrification becomes more prominent in the automotive and motorsport worlds as he explains in Racer.

They’re starting to introduce that into some [long-form desert races], they’re figuring out ways to quickly change out battery packs in that type of racing,” Anderson explained ahead of his recent Extreme E debut (main image), where he was filling in for fellow off-road stalwart Kyle LeDuc at the General Motors-backed Chip Ganassi Racing outfit. “It’s still very new and in the early stages, obviously with Extreme E being successful, I think it’s opening a lot of peoples’ eyes, from where I come from, of this [being] the future.”

The 57 RallyRACC Catalunya-COSTA DAURADA (October 20-23) expanded on their measures to reduce the WRC round’s carbon footprint and neutralize the impact that cannot be eliminated through local actions. Calculating and compensating for CO₂ emissions, correct waste management, and prioritizing the use of sustainable vehicles by the organization are some of the measures that have been applied this year.

Summary of the main environmental actions of the RallyRACC:

  • To compensate for 100% of the emissions generated by the organisation of the RallyRACC within the territorial area in which the competition is held.
  • To study the way to also compensate for the emissions of the attending public and the participating teams.
  • Minimise vehicle travel by the organisation and use hybrid and electric vehicles when indispensable.
  • Test a new waste collection model in some sections immediately after finishing each race.
  • Install a special waste recycling area, as well as recycling bins for plastic, paper, glass, organic material and garbage at the service area.
  • Create an action plan for accidents that may have an environmental impact, in coordination with security forces such as firefighters, Catalan police forces (Mossos) and the local police.
  • Enable an area to clean cars complying with the requirements of the legislation for the collection and recycling of water.

Amongst a number of topics, the latest issue of the Single Seater Space Podcast discusses how the 2023 F1 calendar will affect its carbon emissions in the wake of COP 27. You can listen here.

Porsche AG has joined UN Global Compact as a new participant. The United Nations have confirmed the inclusion of the German sports car manufacturer in the world’s biggest and most important initiative for sustainable and responsible corporate governance. UN Global Compact is a multistakeholder platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible business practices.

Sustainable Motorsport Tech

An Invitation to Learn About Sustainable Motorsport

According to the manufacturer, the Audi RS Q e-tron will save more than 60 percent carbon dioxide at the 2023 Dakar Rally.

At Audi, we are pursuing a consistent strategy of decarbonization,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Board Member for Technical Development at Audi. “Our battery vehicles and renewable electricity are the lead technologies. To complement this, renewable fuels offer the possibility of running internal combustion engines in a more climate-friendly way. The Audi RS Q e-tron combines both systems in its innovative drive. As a result, we are now even more sustainable on the road in the toughest motorsport imaginable for electric drives.” To further reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Audi relies on residue-based products that do not compete with foodstuffs for the fuel used in the rally car. Behind this is a process that converts biomass into ethanol in a first step. The final fuel is then produced in further process steps. The process is abbreviated to ethanol-to-gasoline (ETG). The process engineers use biogenic plant parts as the starting product.”

PMW has an interesting interview with Arnaud Martin, chief officer, inverter systems and motorsport, of Helix.

It is rare for Helix to say much about many of the projects it undertakes, constrained as it is by a host of non-disclosure agreements. However, its tie-up with the NIO 333 Formula E Team is in the public domain. “I think it is fair to say that where there is an electric race series, we are never far away,” says Martin. “We are very involved in Formula E, but we can talk about only some of it. We supply Nio with its motor and inverter and feel that Formula E is a very good platform for development. However, it does have some areas that are only valid in Formula E; it is all about optimizing performance within the boundaries of the regulations. But nonetheless, it is very interesting for an engineer.”

Audi has released more details on the Audi S1 Hoonitron which they describe as a race car from Audi like never before. Check out these stats related to power and torque:

  • The electric power distribution between the front and rear axles is fully variable. It can be perfectly adapted to the driver’s wishes and can precisely influence the self-steering behavior.
  • Each MGU develops 250 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque. This results in a total output of 500 kW and 640 Nm of torque.
  • Since the electric motors reach maximum speeds of 28,000 rpm, the engineering team defined a gear ratio of about 12:1 for the drifts. Taking losses into account, this results in around 3,000 Nm of torque on each axle, or 6,000 Nm in total.
  • Thanks to these extreme torque figures, it is possible for Ken Block to pull off spectacular drifts and achieve a wheel speed of more than 200 km/h.
  • In Audi’s long motorsport history, the combination of these features in conjunction with the special purpose is unique.

Racer has a great interview with Ken Block as he discusses the project with Audi.


AVL RACETECH, the motorsport department of AVL, has introduced the prototype of an innovative H2 internal combustion engine. The power unit is a compact, hydrogen-powered 2-liter turbo engine, with intelligent water injection that enables it to achieve a totally new performance level. The prototype is the first racing engine that AVL RACETECH is developing and building in-house.

“Unlike other H2 internal combustion engines, which are usually operated with a high level of excess air (lean-burn), meaning that they generate comparatively less performance, AVL RACETECH’s new racing engine with only slight lean-burn can generate a performance level of around 150 kW per liter. This puts the hydrogen-powered 2-liter turbo engine in the same range as the close-to-production customer racing classes of today.”

Rotax has presented their new E10 powertrain for Minikart and the leisure industry.

The basic idea, as it was for E20, is on the one hand to ‘simplify’ the vehicle by further reducing the moving parts subject to wear and which are the basis of frequent and onerous maintenance on the other that of accompanying the new generation of karters in a more sustainable motorsport scenario and that in recent years is seeing more and more projects with low environmental impact. E10 is in fact a racing minikart aimed at new drivers that can, depending on the number of batteries used, deliver a power of 7kW (with one battery) or 14kW (two batteries). The weight will vary between 66 and 76 kg, as well as the maximum speed, between 80 and 100 km/h depending on whether you use one or two batteries and you can then accompany the boy in physical and competitive growth. More complete information will follow on where to see the E10 in action in the early months of 2023.”

Series News

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup for December 3, 2022

Along with their new logo (see above), there were a number of Formula E developments over the last 2 weeks. Jaguar, Nissan and Mclaren all unveiled their Gen3 cars but more significantly, the series has added a Gen3 secondary braking option after multiple test crashes. “The move will be designed to give drivers added confidence in being able to stop their cars if they have powertrain or system shutdowns during the new era of Formula E, which begins in January.”

Series organizers are also confident that the Gen3 battery issues have been solved after a recent redesign. “In simple terms, the packaging in which the cells sit had some challenges, and that meant that we had to change the packaging. So that led to a delay in testing programmes,” said Reigle.

Formula E also participated in COP27 and stated “We’re a leader and we want others to follow.” “We’re a sport designed for the next generation and we’re very much attracting younger fans. We want to ensure young people have a brighter future and get that conversation going – our position as an exciting, world class sport offers us that opportunity.”

Finally, Kyle Kinard in Road & Track argues passionately why we should all tune in to Formula E. “Mostly, it’s the potential of Formula E that keeps me curious. It’s a reason to advocate for eyeballs on the sport. We’ve seen the highs and lows of internal-combustion racing, its limits and edges. Yet we haven’t a clue where electric racing could take us. This fresh 2023 season offers hints, bringing us third-gen cars capable of recharging in a single 30-second pit stop, with regenerative braking so exceptional, the car will forgo hydraulic rear brakes entirely.”

An Invitation to Learn About Sustainable Motorsport

Electric SUV series Extreme E completed its first ever event powered by renewable energy at its season finale in Punta del Este, Uruguay. “With 98 per cent of the country’s electricity generation originating from renewable sources, Extreme E used the Uruguayan national grid as the backbone of operations for the race. The remainder of energy required was provided by solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells installed by Extreme E, with the on-site generators falling silent as the paddock switched to 100 per cent clean energy for the first time. This was achieved due to the combined efforts of Power Logistics, AFC Energy and Enowa at the event.”

Looking towards 2023, the series has partnered with Kaizen Clean Energy in order to implement a hydrogen microgrid solution. “Kaizen Clean Energy’s system is perfectly aligned with Extreme E’s needs. Their unique hydrogen production and purification technology will enable Extreme E to charge its race fleet and support the series’ goals to take its entire event operations power off grid with 100 per cent carbon neutral hydrogen energy – which will be a first in motorsport.”

Finally, Dirtfish asks series founder Alejandro Agag, what is the future of Extreme E?I always say, for me there are two technologies and if we manage to crack them, we can solve climate change – nuclear fusion and direct carbon capture,” he said. “These are the two technologies. If you have direct carbon capture, you take the CO2 from the atmosphere, you put it underground. And you have nuclear fusion.”

In Striving for Sustainable Success, IMSA President John Doonan speaks with Jason Anzalone, Director for Motorsports, North America at Michelin, to discuss their commitment to sustainable success for IMSA race teams. “Maybe a little-known fact is that their current race tires contain 30% sustainable raw materials, and a new racing tire (announced at Le Mans last June) increases that to 53%.”

Ars Technica asks, what’s the deal with Formula 1 and sustainable fuels?

In essence, yes, you’re quite right. The total carbon footprint of the sport—of scope 1, 2—is just over a quarter million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, and the cars on the circuit represent 0.7 percent of that,” Symonds explained to me. “So yes, your premise is true. But we try and take a much wider view. And what I think we have in developing a sustainable fuel and putting it in our race cars is an enormous multiplier effect. The 2 billion vehicles that are out there could use this fuel, and then the 400,000 people driving to [the US Grand Prix] isn’t a problem,” he said.

Dorna Sports has achieved ISO 20121 international certification with the support of Right Hub, reaching the important milestone with the implementation of a sustainable management system of the FIM MotoGP World Championship.

Together with Dorna Sports we have started working on the first assessments of the organizational context and events at the end of 2021 in order to build and implement a new sustainable event management system for the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship, which includes an action plan to minimize the environmental impact and maximize the social impact, actively engaging all the interested stakeholders like circuits, constructors, teams, suppliers, sponsors, partners, federations, fans and local communities.”

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup for December 3, 2022

The finalists for the ERA Championship’s Next Gen Racer Scholarship headed to Circuit Zolder recently for the scholarship’s assessment days.

Next Gen Racer is an exciting, annual opportunity for talented racing drivers to showcase their abilities and secure a funded seat on the grid of the world’s first 100% electric entry-level formula racing series in 2023. Drivers were assessed on their ability to master the specificities of ERA and electric racing; energy regeneration, smart driving and energy management, their ability to progress and learn from coaching sessions, and media training.”

ERA co-founder Beth “Fox” Georgiou explains what makes the championship unique.

I co-founded Software AG ERA Championship because I genuinely believe in bringing a sport rich in tradition into the world of today and the future, specifically in terms of sustainability, equality, and accessibility. Alongside my co-founders, I’ve made this my sole mission for the last 3+ years (great global event timing, I know). Considering that motorsport is a testing ground for the industry, it must stay ahead to remain funded and relevant, enabling our sport to thrive and build a next generation of participants and fans. This really requires us to think differently: Some examples include the fact that our cars are 100% electric and that we charge them at the race track using mobile batteries utilising clean energy. Our championship doesn’t go around the world. Instead we are focusing on creating multiple regional series on different continents. A more sustainable approach to being a “global” series. We work to minimise waste and plastics in our paddock and to ensure plant-based food options at every event. We are not perfect and we believe in being transparent. We aim to problem solve rather than green washing and I am conscious there are still many problems to solve! If you have solutions that can help us make motorsport more sustainable, I’d love to chat.”

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup for December 3, 2022
Credit: FIM E-Xplorer World Cup

The FIM E-Xplorer World Cup will debut in 2023 with a six-race calendar in various parts of the world beginning in Barcelona on 13 May. The series uses electric all-terrain motorbikes that are capable of competing in off-road and urban environments.

“I am so pleased to share the inaugural calendar of the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup,” stated series co-founder Carina Munte. “The fact that we will be able to bring the thrill of electric bikes to fans across the world and showcase the skills of these incredible female and male riders makes me very proud. We are excited to work with the FIM, the teams, the riders and our local partners to deliver exceptional events and take this new discipline to huge heights.”

FIA ETRC Innovation Camp

The Innovation Camp is a new area that showcased sustainable transport solutions from eight different manufacturers as part of the Goodyear FIA ETRC racing paddock. The Innovation Camp featured was a new addition in the paddock and provided a platform for manufacturers to showcase their sustainable developments and present alternatively powered trucks to the industry, truck drivers and fans.

The Innovation Camp has been very well received by industry representatives and fans alike,” said ETRA Managing Director Georg Fuchs. “As part of our strategy we want to be open to any kind of technology, and it’s great that we managed to have vehicles from all technologies, like synthetic and bio fuel as well as bio LNG, to electric and hydrogen on display in our paddock this year.”

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.

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup for December 3, 2022

The meaning of the “Invitation” tee shirt that Seb Vettel was seen wearing during his final Grand Prix weekend was explained in Autosport.

It’s really about an invitation to see the sort of power and influence that we can have on a lot of people,” he explained on an Instagram video. “Us, as drivers, we have a huge position to inspire people, to impact on people. But everyday actions I think matter, whether you choose to pick up a piece of plastic, a plastic bottle that you see when you go for a walk. Whatever it is, small things make a difference. And that’s really the idea behind the shirt, and the invitation to just make people aware that every little bit matters.”

In that spirit, with the holidays coming for many of us, here are some suggestions for more sustainable shopping.

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.

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 the majority of 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

Tesla Semi Trucks

Sustainable Aviation

Airbus Zero e Plane

Sustainable Fuels

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup for December 3, 2022
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.