As Formula E powers ahead to Season 10, they are feeling bullish about the future. From breaking indoor land speed records to “turning up the volume”, the series sees a bright future ahead after an eventful and exciting debut of Gen3.
Also in this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup is additional analysis of the Sustainable Circuits Index and the engine powering the Ligier-Bosch Hydrogen V6 Turbo. Plus, I bring you details of the improvements that Toyota is working on for their GR Corolla H2 Concept liquid hydrogen-fueled race car and a peek at the new STCC touring car interior.
All this and much more in this week’s edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.
Sustainable Motorsport News
AVL RACETECH have announced that their partnership with the Green Future Project and the “Drive Fast, Act Faster” initiative, co-founded by Le Mans winner and ambassador Ferdinand Habsburg, has entered its third year. Within the partnership, the Green Future Project acquired and preserved 40,468 sqm of rainforest in Ecuador’s Narupa Reserve in 2021, followed by 117,359 sqm in 2022, and adding another 68,796 sqm in 2023. Soon a quarter of a million square meters of valuable habitat will be permanently protected. This commitment has offset over 2,500 tons of CO2, this includes the complete CO2 footprint of our brand ambassadors during the 2023 racing season and this number is also equivalent to the annual emissions volume of 338 EU citizens (7,4 tons of CO2 per capita).
“By supporting the Green Future Project, we’re not only offsetting CO2 but also making a vital contribution to preserving biodiversity. The rainforest in Narupa Reserve is one of the most species-rich areas globally. At AVL RACETECH, sustainability and environmental protection is part of our key values. In addition to our work with the Green Future Project, we’re supporting sustainable engineering developments, like our emission-free race engine with hydrogen combustion technology. Together, let’s work towards a CO2-neutral future for motorsport!“
In last week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup I mentioned that the third edition of the Sustainable Circuits Index had been released. The Sustainability Report took a closer look at the report and presents a comprehensive summary of the Index’s findings and explain how the Sustainable Circuits Index reveals a widening gap between innovators and laggards.
“In general terms, there was quite a big fluctuation in the progress made by the 97 reviewed circuits. As a collective, they performed best in the social criteria, with 64 and 55 having approaches to philanthropy and accessibility respectively. Around one-third of the circuits did well on the criteria related to environmental sustainability, ranging from 29 with climate change projects up to 47 that had a focus on transport and mobility. The circuits’ sustainability reporting (3) and disclosure of sustainability strategy (4) were subpar. Combined with the prevalence of philanthropic projects among them suggests that sustainability is viewed more as philanthropy than a strategic priority.”
Prior to the 2023 FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix last weekend, Spa Grand Prix revealed that it had been awarded the Three-Star Environmental Accreditation by the FIA. After achieving ISO 20121 certification in 2021, this recent certification showcases Spa Grand Prix’s commitment to actively reducing its environmental impact, while contributing to making motorsport more sustainable.
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
PMW explains how Toyota continues to improve its liquid H2 -fueled Toyota GR Corolla H2 Concept race car. “Reliability concerns with the liquid H2 pump (required to operate at -253°C), meant the team had to plan in two pump changes over the 24-hour Fuji race, a process which required draining the system of H2, filling with nitrogen, replacing the pump, then refilling with H2. The first pump change took four hours! Following a pep talk from Akio Toyoda, the second change was cut to three hours. Clearly, having to change pumps twice during a 24-hour race was less than ideal and Toyota has spent the past two months trying to improve this.”
Race Engine Suppliers goes into considerable detail regarding the Ligier-Bosch Hydrogen v6 Turbo engine. “The JS2 RH2 is described by the two parties as “the product of the strategical and technical partnership launched between [us] in November 2022”. We were further informed: “Bosch Engineering oversaw the overall vehicle design including electrical/ electronic architecture and simulation. It played the key role in developing the concept for the engine and tank system, and a comprehensive multistage hydrogen safety system.”
The recent Extreme E Island X race event in Sardinia was the third time the series had visited the Italian region. But it was the first outing for a new method of powering the race site and charging of the Odyssey 21 electric vehicles. Although Extreme E has used hydrogen before as an energy source for its races, a deal with Kaizen Clean Energy brokered at the end of Season 2 has now borne fruit. From now on, Extreme E will be showcasing a system that enables transportable green electricity no matter how remote its races are.
“Our system has three main parts,” explains Robert Meaney, Cofounder of Kaizen Clean Energy. “We have a reformer, our fuel cell, and our DC converter. At the event site we convert methanol and water to hydrogen. In 1,000 liters we store about 1MWh of usable energy on the back end of the fuel cell. That energy in the methanol and water is converted to hydrogen in the reformer. That hydrogen is then stored at a very low pressure, in low quantity, and used on demand by the fuel cell. We produce hydrogen on demand, and we use it on demand. Our fuel cell is a Lloyds-registered marinized approved 200kW unit and so has all the safety features necessary to meet maritime standards. But it’s also very compact. We can store it in a 20-foot container. Then we also have a DC-to-DC converter in the container, which allows us to stabilize the level of our voltage out of the system and make it ready for batteries. We get a call for power from the batteries, and we start producing power immediately.”
My recent monthly Getting to the Track Sustainably column features everything from a new EV Speedster from Porsche and hydrogen-powered plane engines to the future of airships and sustainable shipping.
Formula E and its official innovation partner, Sabic, have unveiled its new world record-breaking car – the Genbeta. The electric race car, developed by diversified chemicals manufacturer Sabic in collaboration with Formula E, set a new Guinness World Record title for the fastest speed achieved by a vehicle indoors by hitting a top speed of 218.71kph.
The Genbeta car, which appeared at the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix on Sunday 30th July, was pushed to the limit by ABB FIA Formula E World championship drivers Jake Hughes (NEOM McLaren Formula E Team) and Lucas di Grassi (Mahindra Racing) in the Duals format used to qualify for Formula E races.
New Formula E CEO Jeff Dodd wants to turn up the volume. “I am very much focused on turning the volume up,” he said ahead of London’s final doubleheader round of the series’ ninth season. “There’s a hardcore motorsport fan that loves racing — I consider myself one of those. I love Formula 1. I love MotoGP, World Superbikes, British Superbikes. If it’s got a drive train or an engine, then I’ll watch it. When I was at Honda, we even raced lawnmowers, so I will watch anything racing.”
“When you’re in elite motorsports, everyone wants to see performance improvements. We’re on Gen 3 of the car; we’ll go to Gen 3 EVO within two seasons and then we have Gen 4 coming after that. Each of those steps, I’m looking for improvements in efficiency in the car — its sustainability credentials, but also performance. I want it to be able to go faster, not just from the acceleration point of view, but also top speed. That’s one area we’re focused on.”
Sam Smith in The Race explains how the London ExCeL Centre, where the Formula E finale took place, is the ideal template for the racing series’ future. “I remember a lot of skepticism around [the ExCeL race] and a lot of people saying that it was just a race around the car park and that it was not what Formula E needed,” NEOM McLaren’s Ian James told The Race. “I think it’s put all of those doubters to bed and I think it’s a cracking location. We’ve had some great racing there in the past, the atmosphere is second to none.”
Sustainable Future News talks to Julia Pallé on how Formula E is driving a sustainable future in motorsport and how that is also good business. Pallé believes sustainable practices require investment and have proven to be worthwhile. “Our sustainability initiatives have become a unique selling proposition, attracting sponsors who value them,” she says. “Additionally, programs like Girls on Track and Change. Accelerated. Live are profitable ventures that partners engage with and pay for. Investing in sustainability initiatives is highly beneficial. Consumer demand and investor focus on ESG factors drive businesses to prioritise sustainability. It has become a compelling selling point, helping organisations differentiate themselves and remain relevant to their audience.”
The STCC has issued a first teaser image from the production of the new electric touring cars ahead of its delayed and compressed 2023 season in September. The cars are currently being constructed by EPWR, with delivery to the STCC teams estimated for mid-August following supply chain issues relating to the battery systems.
The new 550hp, rear-wheel driven race cars feature the chassis of the original model, while battery, motors, suspension and more are similar for all cars, this in order to keep costs down and create close racing.