This week I look at two racing series that are planning on finding motorsport talent the sustainable way using the latest electric motorsport technology combined with innovative race talent identification.
In addition to these exciting developments, you will learn about NASCAR’s electric race car concept, whether hydrogen has a future in motorsport and developing IndyCar’s hybrid engines with some help from IMSA.
All this and much more in this week’s edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Your source for sustainable high performance motorsport news.
Sustainable Motorsport News
Ex-F1 engineer Rob Smedley has re-branded his Total Karting Zero electric karting series into the Global Karting League with the aim of democratizing motorsport on a global scale. The Global Karting League aims to cut the cost of aspiring racers’ karting careers by up to 96%, enabling a 1000-fold increase in participation and it seeks to create 50 national ‘hubs’ worldwide, the first being already operational in the UK.
“My premise is that the fastest driver ever has never actually sat in a racing car. If you take a ball sport like football, or rugby, or any of them, at the grassroots, at the national level or an academy level, if there was £100,000 or €100,000 or $100,000 price tag, we certainly wouldn’t see players like Neymar, Lionel Messi, David Beckham, all of those great players that come through from a fairly diverse and let’s call it a democratised background. We want to simplify the grassroots of the sport, we want to make it more equal. We want to open up the participation so that the organic output is that we get more talent coming through from a more diverse cohort.”
Here are two articles that give further background on his initiative. You can find out more details at the Global Karting League website: https://www.globalkartingleague.com/.
- Ex-F1 engineer Smedley launches new electric karting initiative (Autosport)
- Ex-Ferrari engineer launches new karting league to find ‘Lionel Messi’ of F1 (Planet F1)
In his recent NASCAR State of the Sport address, NASCAR President Steve Phelps and Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell addressed numerous issues during a question-and-answer session with the media. Part of that discussion included sustainability initiatives.
“O’Donnell says a great deal of work around an electric vehicle has occurred at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center. He says they have a car and an alternative body style with that car. However, he says he would not look for NASCAR specifically to go racing with it. O’Donnell is going to Japan after the season ends to look at hydrogen racing.”
In fact, NASCAR will be testing its electric car in December at the Martinsville Speedway. If things go as planned, it is even likely that the car could be made public to the fans in January 2024. At the moment, NASCAR is gauging the fans’ reactions and also looking at alternative fuel options for the near future. O’Donnell said, “A lot of work has gone on at the R&D department around EV. We have a car, we have an alternative body style with that car.”
IMSA President John Doonan talked the future of pro racing with Grassroots Motorsports recently and part of that talk included IMSA and sustainability.
As we say in the office, the market will speak, but a lot of it depends on how the industry trends. The automakers that have joined us believe we’re in a sweet spot right now by retaining an internal-combustion engine along with a hybrid package and renewable fuels–certainly more on the renewable fuels side, and potentially other propulsion ideas.
We’ve got to remember that we’re still in the business of entertaining people. And we have the best of both worlds right now with great sound and a sustainability story that’s authentic and real. We can never forget that we’re in the business of putting on a good show.Exclusive: IMSA President John Doonan on the future of pro racing
I mentioned this in last week’s Roundup but Energy Digital looks at how the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team uses biofuel to cut emissions.
The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team have saved 339 tCO2e and reduced race and hospitality trucks and generator emissions by 67% through Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO100) biofuel use over the course of the 2023 Formula One European season.
These impressive results exceeded the team’s initial targets of 60% emissions reduction and 200 tCO2e saved.
HVO100 biofuel, which is made from 100% sustainably sourced renewable raw materials such as waste oils and fats, can significantly reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the impact of freight on local air quality. As a near zero-emission fuel, bioenergy is an important pillar of decarbonisation in the energy transition, with PETRONAS reporting that liquid biofuel consumption will need to quadruple by 2030 to get on track with the latest Net Zero goals — with road transport playing a critical role.Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team uses biofuel to cut emissions
Here are two great interviews with Ellis and Michele Spiezia on their experiences in electric racing in Europe that are well worth the read.
- Episode 103: Pushing the Limits in Electric Motorsport with Michele Spiezia
- Ellis Spiezia & Ellysium Racing – The Electric Racing Renegade
- Environmentally-friendly stadium travel of football fans: A stated preferences study by Thormann and Wicker
- The impact of sporting events on air pollution: An empirical examination of national Football League games by Watanabe, Yan, and McLeod
- (Re)scheduling as a climate mitigation and adaptation strategy by Orr, Murfree, and Stargel
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
Autosport Plus has published a comprehensive look into the obstacles that make hydrogen unattractive for F1’s sustainability push. While they are talking about Formula 1, the hurdles remain in any class competing today and there is hope for its future.
“Talk of hydrogen as a potential future Formula 1 fuel won’t go away. But PAT SYMONDS says there remains significant hurdles to overcome before it can emerge as a rival to the sustainable synthetic fuels that will be adopted from 2026.”
At the Professional Motorsport World Expo currently being held in Cologne Germany, Italtecnica has unveiled their sustainable solution for internal combustion engines (ICE).
At this year’s expo, Italtecnica, which is part of the RPM network, will showcase a patented passive pre-chamber that can be retrofitted to most existing engines. The system is thoroughly tested and calibrated to run with ethanol and methanol, with ultra-lean combustion to cut emissions.
Danilo Brossa, technical director and automotive engineer in Italtecnica’s testing department, explained, “Using the best technologies available on the market (01-D analysis, CFD, FEM, CAD) internal combustion engines can evolve, finding a perfect trade-off between performance and respect for the environment.”
The company’s R&D department is testing the new generation of this technology, fueled by hydrogen, which can reduce greenhouse gases and particulate matter to almost zero.
Brossa added, “We are exhibiting our new combustion chamber fueled by hydrogen, with a patented passive pre-chamber system able to reach efficiency close to 45%. We believe in the future of ICEs and are working every day to achieve this goal.”Day 1: Italtecnica’s sustainable solution for ICEs
The Electric Racing Academy (ERA) is the world’s first all-electric junior formula racing series. Founded by Beth Georgiou, Rudi Penders, and Dieter Vanswijgenhoven in Belgium, its mission is to transform motorsports by making it more sustainable, equitable, and accessible. ERA’s first, single-seater racing series kicked off with events across Europe in 2022 and an inaugural race at the legendary Circuit Zolder. Software AG has presented a case study on ERA and how they are planning on disrupting the entire racing industry.
“The Mitsu-Bachi F110e is an electrified beast. An incredibly intelligent, truly-connected, foot-to-the-floor powerhouse. Bringing ERA’s vision to reality meant taking on an ambitious project to generate real-time racing data for drivers, coaches, teams, and fans. It’s a vision powered by a fluid flow of data streaming off IoT and other internal and external sources. It’s a vision that represents a future where competition isn’t about who can afford the most expensive car—but who can master the technology to create a democratized environment open to everyone, fueled by data-sharing, innovation.”
Last week I mentioned that the ACE Championship was rebranding to Formula G. This week I have some additional details about the rebrand and goals of this ambitious new electric racing series that is attempting to not only revolutionize electric racing but also the way it develops young race drivers. If you are curious as to what the “G” stands for in Formula G, here is an idea:
- Formula Green (clean energy/sustainability/social conscious)
- Formula Good (education/ opportunity/diversity/inclusive)
- Formula Global (global coverage/four regions/emerging motorsport markets)
- Formula Growth (affordable/accessible/ability to progress)
- Formula Groundbreaking (technology/innovation/modern/exciting)
“Nick Heidfeld said he had joined Gill at the helm of the series because he believed Formula G would break down “the barriers that stand in the way of the opportunity to race competitively and progress through different levels” and “also fill a green racing void that everyone in the sport, from teams, to drivers, sponsors, and promoters, and most importantly race fans around the world, have all been waiting for“.”
- Charging up: All-electric Formula G aims to thrive alongside emerging motorsport talent (Racer)
- What is Formula G? Heidfeld and Gill’s new series relaunches (The Race)
- New Junior Electric Racing Series ACE Championship Becomes Formula G (Forbes)
Alongside the name change, Formula G has also announced that German Clean Technology company Quantron AG will provide Fuel Cell Heavy Duty Trucks for event logistics. The Quantron QHM FCEV AERO truck will start off serving races in Europe for the 2024/25 season, before becoming the official global partner.
Global tire manufacturer Pirelli has announced that it will only use FSC-certified tires in all Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship races starting from 2024. Pirelli has been Formula One’s exclusive tire partner since 2011; a partnership that has been recently extended until 2027 with a special focus on making Formula One more sustainable.
“We celebrate this move towards FSC certification which sets a powerful precedent for sustainable practices in motorsport, demonstrating that high performance and environmental responsibility can seamlessly coexist” says Fabian Farkas, Chief Commercial Officer at FSC International. “Rubber is truly embedded in the automotive industry, and more companies must follow the movement towards sustainability through FSC certification which confirms that forests are managed to strict environmental, social and economic standards”.
Plans for hydrogen-powered prototypes to race at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the World Endurance Championship are set to be delayed by a further year. Pierre Fillon, president of Le Mans organiser and WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, has stated that he believes that the new target of 2026 outlined in the week of this year’s edition of the French enduro in June is looking increasingly impractical.
“It is not realistic [for 2026],” said Fillon. “We have to spend some time on the safety, and it is longer than we expected. I think ’27 is more realistic.”
Chevrolet and Honda have found value in the hybrid technology in IMSA’s GTP category while helping create the concept that will debut in the IndyCar Series in 2024 according to Autosport. The two manufacturers are represented by sister brands Cadillac and Acura, respectively, in the IMSA SportsCar Championship, where they just completed the maiden season of a hybrid-infused GTP class over nine races in 2023.
David Salters, President Honda Racing Corporation US, shared how building up a hybrid system in IMSA, among other places, has helped the process of development for IndyCar.
I think we’ve all been learning for years, either through our production side of electrification and we have experts that we bring in from our production side,” Salters said. “We have experience in Formula 1 and then we have experience in IMSA and you just constantly are adding to your knowledge bank.
It’s a new technology. It’s interesting, energy management is very relevant. All these sort of things, we are helping actually develop the system, so that’s a new challenge that is completely different from LMDh. It’s different, to be straightforward, but of course you’ve got all this acquired wisdom and you try and use it. Not always, but you do try and use it.IMSA GTP lessons helping Chevrolet, Honda with IndyCar’s hybrid unit
World Rallycross (World RX) has signed a logistics partnership with Kuehne+Nagel. Arne Dirks, managing director of Rallycross Promoter, said: “As World RX ventures into new territories, having a trusted and proven logistics partner is integral to our global strategy. Kuehne+Nagel understands and shares our vision and is committed to delivering our equipment around the globe in a sustainably responsible framework. We look forward to growing and developing our relationship going forward.”