E-Fuels and sustainable fuels in motorsport are the focus in this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup.
From sustainable fuels powering racing karts, Formula 1, Formula 2, and Formula 3 cars as well as a 2022 Porsche Panamera 4S Sport Turismo, I bring you several stories on developments behind the technology, just one of the technologies being developed as part of the transition to a more sustainable way to power motorsport.
I also bring more details on the hydrogen in motorsport front including the work of MissionH24, the challenge behind recruiting drivers only interested in racing electric race cars and how Extreme E is looking at going all in on hydrogen.
All this and more in this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.
Sustainable Motorsport News
In announcing the record entry for the 2023 FIA European Karting Championship in Spain, organizers made sure to highlight their use of sustainable fuel.
“In line with the FIA’s overall sustainability strategy, the 2023 FIA Karting season will see the introduction of a new 100% sustainable fuel, using second generation bio-components and supplied by Irish company P1 Racing Fuel.”
Feeder Series has a great feature on race car manufacturer Tatuus and they discuss their challenges around sustainability and hybridization from a business standpoint. Tatuus CEO Gianfranco de Bellis:
“As you know, Tatuus is a group that also includes Autotecnica for the engine side. We have experience with hybridation. We worked on it during the FIA Motorsport Games with KCMG, but the problem is that it is just too expensive. We need to respect a certain budget cap from the FIA regarding the chassis and the power unit. And at the moment, if you want to make an hybridation of the engine, there is no way to stay in the target costs imposed by the FIA. For the moment, we don’t see any application possible, and none of the championships we are taking care of asked us to go to hybrid. Biofuel seems much more relevant. It doesn’t cost anything, it doesn’t add weight…Because if you put an hybrid engine, you add at least 25 or 30 kilogrammes on the car. You may win some power, but it compensates with the weight. So honestly, in terms of performance, it’s not logical.”
The FIA has awarded the Three-Star Environmental Accreditation to Bridgestone for its motorsport initiatives. The FIA’s program aims to help international motorsport and mobility stakeholders measure and improve their environmental performance.
“We are proud and delighted to be awarded the FIA’s Three-Star Environmental Accreditation,” said Tomoyuki Takagi, vice president and officer global marketing strategy, Bridgestone Corporation. “This partnership aligns with the Bridgestone E8 Commitment, our corporate commitment which accelerates our transformation to a sustainable solutions company. We aim to inspire excitement and spread joy to the world of mobility while striving to achieve the realization of a carbon neutral mobility society with our technologies and initiatives.”
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
Autosport goes under the skin of the mobile lab for hydrogen at Le Mans to explain how hydrogen-powered racing cars are still in their early stages, but as part of a joint venture between the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and GreenGT, the MissionH24 project has been racking up crucial miles to help formulate the rules for a future hydrogen class at Le Mans.
“MissionH24’s goal is explained in its name. The programme has been geared to develop hydrogen technology for competition in the Le Mans 24 Hours, and has come a long way since its LMPH2G first appeared in a practice session for a Le Mans Cup race in 2019. Reliability has been a major focus for the programme, and GreenGT’s technical manager for motorsport Bassel Aslan is confident that performance will continue to improve rapidly. While it still has some way to go to be regularly beating the conventionally-propelled LMP3 and GT3 machines it faces off against in the European Le Mans Series-supporting Le Mans Cup, the current H24 model remains an invaluable testbed. Here’s how its cutting-edge technology works.”
The Drive explains how engineers are achieving lightness in the heavyweight EV era.
“As battery packs become the new albatross that performance cars must lug around, engineers are embracing the challenge to slenderize EVs and usher in a new era of performance. At some level, “mass is mass,” said Tim Grewe, GM’s general director of electrification strategy. “You still have to address the elephant in the car, the battery. But you can negate some of that elephant with the fundamental benefits of electric drive.”
The move towards sustainability in motorsport has definitely caused a rethink in a lot of areas and one of those interestingly enough has been in fire safety according to this article in Autosport.
“The move away from fossil fuels will trigger a change in the oxygen level of fuels, and this could have an impact on how quickly fires rage in the event of an accident. F1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds admitted the switch of fuels would require some thought to be given to safety standards in the series. Asked by Autosport if there would be a need for safety equipment to face new homologation standards, Symonds said: “Yes it does in many areas, because with the fuel we’re proposing in Formula 1 for 2026, we are allowing up to 20% of oxygenates of ethanol-type fuels. “So the way you fight a fire is slightly different. You have different chemicals, as indeed you do these days for electrical fires. Compatibility of materials also needs to be checked.”
Road&Track looks at Porsche’s $100 Million crusade to future-proof internal combustion with their work in e-fuels.
“Porsche has so far invested $100 million into the development of synthetic fuels, more commonly called e-fuels, a form of gasoline that literally comes out of thin air. Of that $100 million, three-quarters went to HIF Global, a synthetic fuels research company that turned around and built a prototype factory called Haru Oni near Punta Arenas, Chile. It’s just down the road from Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most stunning places on earth, an untouched paradise and bucket list entry for serious hikers around the globe. Why plunk a factory down here? Because this is among the windiest places on earth, and wind is the key ingredient.”
The latest editions of both RaceTech magazine and Autosport have some significant sustainable motorsport content.
RaceTech looks at sustainable fuels. “With an unprecedented run of six successive stage wins, Sébastien Loeb’s feats on this year’s Dakar Rally shine alight on the benefits sustainable fuels can deliver, not just in motorsports but for the entire ICE fleet. By Chris Pickering.”
Autosport has a special supplement dedicated to hydrogen in motorsport. “It’s also time for our latest free Engineering supplement. The strengths and weaknesses of hydrogen in motorsport come into focus as James Newbold investigates the latest developments.”
DS Automobiles explains how Formula E is a key platform in helping them in designing their electric vehicles.
“Motorsport is a vital research and development tool,” says Eugenio Franzetti, DS Performance Director. “That’s why DS Automobiles chose the ABB FIA Formula E FIA World Championship to electrify its range. The experience accumulated over many seasons was and continues to be very useful for the development of today’s and tomorrow’s road cars. A clear example of this is energy recovery under braking, which is studied and pushed to the limit in Formula E, then transferred to all our electric road car models,” he added.”
With three potential races that could be joining the series in 2024, DMARGE explains how Formula E has sparked a renaissance for motorsport. Giovanni Sgro, head of Maserati Corse:
“We made the decision to get into e-mobility… So being in Formula E is an amazing opportunity to showcase not just the brand value in terms of the brand equity or what Maserati stands for as a luxury automobile brand, but to learn. We don’t want to be [just] a participant in this space, we want to lead the space and Formula E although technology transfer is not 100% at this point, everything we learned from the track to off track is really going to help us develop and design high-performing electric vehicles.”
Former head of the Techeetah team in Formula E and now motorsports director at Lola Cars Mark Preston argues in The Race that Formula E needs a feeder series for a new class of drivers.
“Learning to drive these complex new electric vehicles requires experience and knowledge of their inner workings. It shows in Formula E as it can take quite a few races for a new driver to retrain themselves for these very different cars. Given that by the time many of the 11-years-olds get to the upper levels of motorsports many countries in the world will have banned fossil-fuelled vehicles, the whole game will have changed.”
To give an example of some of the challenges in driving the current Gen3 Formula E car, Lucas di Grassi gives his first impressions of what it is like driving the radical new car and what can be improved.
“The power definitely exceeded my expectations. I raced with 1000 horsepower in the World Endurance Championship with Audi, so 350kW (470hp) doesn’t sound like much by comparison. But as it’s continuous power, it’s a lot. The complexity of the car to set up and get the software controls in the window also exceeded expectations.”
Formula 1 chiefs are confident that they can prevent an expensive lab spending war on sustainable fuel when it is introduced in 2026.
“F1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds thinks the approach F1 has taken in imposing new regulations should be enough to deter fuel suppliers from trying to do anything too outlandish. In particular, he thinks the fact that fuel-flow regulations will stipulate a maximum energy flow of 3000 mega Joules per hour, rather than the current mass of 100 kilogrammes, will be significant in keeping a lid on things. He thinks the approach F1 has taken in imposing new regulations should be enough to deter fuel suppliers from trying to do anything too outlandish.”
At the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Bosch and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced a five-year corporate partnership to further leverage Bosch’s electronics and mobility expertise to enhance vehicle performance, improve safety and create a more equitable and robust racing experience.
“The hybrid system is flexible and can be combined with different vehicle and engine concepts, while still offering a high level of performance. Per current LMDh regulations, the system in drive mode delivers a permanent output of 50 kW, and up to 200 kW in recuperation mode. However, the hybrid system has been designed for scalability and is capable of higher levels of performance, enabling Bosch to meet the ever-evolving power and torque demands of racing.”
Extreme E is weighing up a full hydrogen switch in the future instead of running parallel Extreme E and Extreme H championships.
“Initially the plan was for the hydrogen class and the current battery-electric class to co-exist, but given the lack of prominent hydrogen racing series, Extreme E and Formula E series founder Alejandro Agag has suggested the new development could become the championship’s sole focus. “We still need to figure it out,” he conceded. “We haven’t decided yet if we’re going to do both, if we’re going to focus on hydrogen, if we’re going to transition — both and then hydrogen only. We have ongoing discussions with the teams and then we will make a decision which way to go. They could even be different weekends. My feeling is that we will focus mainly on hydrogen. But we have to still make the decision.”
Formula 2 has been active in testing sustainability technologies that will eventually be used in Formula 1 and updated details of two such initiatives have been released.
In the first, Formula 2 will switch to electric wheel guns instead of the pneumatic versions that they currently use. “The number one reason behind this change is to get the pitlane much cleaner than it was before and, by doing that, much safer,” Formula 2 CEO Bruno Michel explains. “If you looked at all the equipment teams used to have in the pitlane, there was so much with the bottles of air, the gantries and everything needed for those old wheel guns. Now, we’ve made it things much more simple and much safer. Taking all the equipment around the world was very complicated. We get rid of 100 to 200kg worth of freight, because the new electric guns are much lighter than the gantry and all of the previous equipment. During European rounds with the team trucks and especially for flyaways and airfreight, team travel becomes much more sustainable than ever before.”
The series has also provided an update on their carbon capture target for their sustainable fuel supply. “Formula 2 and Formula 3 are set to use “100% sustainable” fuel from Aramco in 2027 with carbon that will be sourced almost entirely via direct air capture (DAC). “The first step is this year’s “55% biofuel sustainable fuel”, and “we will replace these 55% of sustainable bio-sourced fuel by 55% of sustainable fuel made with DAC” in 2025. “In 2027, we will try to make the fuel, I cannot say 100%, but maximise the use of sustainable fuel with DAC. Almost 100%, and this will be a worldwide achievement. This is a very ambitious target, and this is a reason why we are working from this year to reach that target.”
Shell is extending its motorsport partnership with Ferrari, supporting the program of the 499P Hypercar in the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship.
“Shell’s support for the Ferrari Hypercar programme involves supplying lubricants and coolants developed to optimise performance, reliability and durability. In addition to the potential transfer of technology from the track to the road, the technical and commercial partnership will have a particular focus on sustainability. Ferrari will evaluate the supply of biofuels and other low-carbon solutions with the aim of decarbonising the broader operations of the Ferrari – AF Corse team, starting with logistics and generators. “
Podium Life sat down with Cara Krstolic, the Director of Bridgestone Race Tire Engineering & Production and Chief Engineer for IndyCar Tires, to discuss her path to Firestone and a push for equipping motorsport better for a sustainable future.
“So for me, making sure that we take care of the environment is key and to be able to bring that sustainability aspect back into tires back into motorsports. For so long people looked at motorsport and said, ‘they consume all this fuel and they’re noisy’, but to be able to bring in some of those sustainability elements, whether it’s renewable materials, recycled materials. Look at the some of the stuff that Bridgestone has done with our partners like Shell, bringing in renewable fuel, we have this guayule tire, we have some more news coming around the Indy 500. So there’s some really exciting things that we’re bringing in. We have this great platform of motorsport, and there’s a lot that we can accomplish, because we’re very visible.”
Canadian Victor Smialek is set to be on the ERA Championship Series Europe 2023 grid as the series kicks of its inaugural season of racing. “I am very excited to compete in the ERA Championship Series Europe 2023. The calendar will be full of great tracks and it will be my first contact with electric racing, which will be a very fun new challenge,” Smialek assured.