Gordon Murray discuses the future of internal combustion engines (ICE) as well as EVs in this edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup.
In addition to this perspective, you will get an update on the new all-electric STCC, hydrogen being delayed at Le Mans and the track layout for the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix.
All this and more in this edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Your source for sustainable high performance motorsport news.
Sustainable Motorsport News
I have mentioned this in past columns but Motorsport Week explains how Mercedes has succeeded in its bid to slash emissions during the European leg of the 2023 Formula 1 season, achieving a 67% reduction for race and hospitality trucks and generators.
“We are delighted to achieve such a positive set of results and reduce our freight and generator emissions significantly over this season’s European races,” said Alice Ashpitel, Head of Sustainability at Mercedes. “The use of biofuels is one of our key pioneering initiatives as part of our overarching sustainability strategy for achieving Net Zero for our Race Team Controlled emissions by 2030. This project marks a significant step forward and a strong proof point supporting the wider adoption of HVO100 across sport, entertainment, and logistics industries.”
“Smedley sees “no reason” for this madness and reckons “the fastest driver ever has never actually sat in a racing car” because of it. “The cost to run a world championship is exactly the same as the cost to run a rookie championship,” he says. “So throughout this league system – which is completely meritocratic – the price point is fixed.”
In what was an acknowledgement of the complications of hydrogen motorsport, the introduction of the hydrogen class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been delayed until 2027 according to ACO President Pierre Fillon, who has cited the latest postponement for safety-related reasons.
“2026 is not realistic,” he told reporters at last weekend’s 8 Hours of Bahrain. “[It would be] 2027 because we have to spend some time about the safety and it takes longer than we expected. I think ’27 is more realistic.”
Special ONE Racing have announced that they intend to compete in the 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship.
According to their social media, Special ONE Racing team is “pleased to note that the FIA, aware of the difficulties faced by the team following the incident at Lydden Hill, is making every effort to identify the cause.” They explain that the team, “like the FIA, is awaiting the analysis reports – conducted by the battery manufacturer Kreisel Electric on samples taken after the fire – which should help to determine responsibilities.”
The statement also notes that the team is “delighted that the FIA is doing everything necessary to safely continue the FIA World Rallycross Championship next year for all teams, and hopes to be able to take part.”
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
In a recent profile in The Robb Report, renowned car designer Gordon Murray discussed a number of issues including that of the future of the internal combustion engine.
“We just proved you can jump from 9,000 revs to 12,000 revs and still pass emissions. And there’s a long way to go still on fuels. You can run internal combustion on hydrogen, and synthetic fuels are coming along. The advancement on electrical vehicles is going to stall a bit until we get new battery technology—we need more efficient batteries, as the energy density is really poor on the current technology. I think the internal-combustion engine is going to be around for much longer than people are predicting.”
WAE has not made changes to its Extreme E battery, following the recent fire in its pit garage during Formula E testing in Valencia.
“We do not envisage there being any impact on Extreme E and to date, no changes have been made,” WAE said when approached for comment by RACER. “As with any incident such as this, we have taken the opportunity to review safety procedures as employee safety continues to be our highest priority.”
Formula E has unveiled the track for the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix. The challenging 18-turn, 2.582km street circuit will surround the Tokyo International Exhibition Centre – the largest venue in Japan also known as Tokyo Big Sight – only minutes from downtown Tokyo.
The track includes three notable straights, technical sequences of tight corners, and high-speed combinations set against the stunning Tokyo metropolis backdrop. Formula E’s track design experts are confident the circuit will deliver a challenge for the 22 drivers in the series, while providing maximum excitement and entertainment for fans at the race and TV viewers tuning-in around the world.
The paddock area, featuring the garages where teams and drivers prepare the GEN3 race cars and plan racing strategy, will be located on the Tokyo Bay waterfront.
Pirelli continues to embrace its role to help F1 reach its sustainability goals.
“The fans are not to be scared, because there is a clear journey together with Formula 1 that we started many years ago,” Isola told Autoweek. “Honestly, sustainability is not something that is coming from yesterday. This has been one of the pillars of the company for many years. That is why some of the targets are already met.”
“Next year, we will have the Formula 1 tires with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. That is a good message because it shows very serious commitment to sustainability. We have all of our factories (powered) with electricity coming from renewable sources. We minimize the impact of our logistics to avoid air freight as much as possible to help minimize the impact on the environment.”
“The next step is to eliminate the blankets for the Intermediate tires,” Isola said. “So there are many actions already in place that go in this direction. Sustainability is not just one action. You need to work 360 degrees to achieve the target, and I believe that we have really good plans for the future.”
“At the moment, we recycle all the tires,” Isola said. “There are also projects in the works to recycle the tires to create plastic materials, flooring, and for use in asphalt. For the future, we have a couple of projects that are super confidential, but very, very nice.”
Malaysian energy company Petronas will supply Moto2 and Moto3 with 40 per cent sustainable fuel from 2024. This move follows MotoGP’s transition to sustainable fuels, beginning with a 40 per cent blend in 2024. The parent series is targeting fully sustainable fuels by 2027.
Carmelo Ezpeleta, chief executive of Dorna Sports, said: “2024 marks the start of a new era for motorcycle Grand Prix racing as we take the first step towards a new global era of zero carbon fuels.
“Working with a world-leading partner like Petronas to make this a reality in Moto2 and Moto3 is fantastic for us, ensuring both classes continue to have incredible performance at the same time as using a minimum 40 per cent non-fossil fuel, using the paddock as a testing ground before these technologies reach real customers on the street.”
“This is our ethos, too – MotoGP is the pinnacle of two wheels, and our sport drives innovation from the top. Working with Petronas, we’re confident Moto2 and Moto3 will continue to do just that from 2024 onwards.”
PMW Magazine profiles the Swedish Touring Car Championship as they make the switch to EVs.
“The series has taken an interesting approach to the challenge of fielding cost-effective electric racers while still allowing for brand differentiation. It could be described as a combination of NGTC regulations and TCR, with a host of standard chassis components combined with a spec electric powertrain. Notably, the cars are also being produced by a single supplier: EPWR, the electrified arm of long-time Swedish racing outfit PWR, which has long been exploring the potential of electrified touring cars.”
Nitrocross will utilize the new FC2 platform as the sole vehicle for its Nitrocross NEXT support class from next season. “While the FC1-X — the car used in Nitrocross’ premier Group E category — is all-electric, the FC2 remains a combustion-powered car, but will run on entirely fossil-free fuels in keeping with the championship’s environmentally friendly ethos. The car will also be dubbed the NEXT EVO in Nitrocross, reflecting the platform’s evolution from its previous generation.”