Increasing the speed of sustainable motorsport can be taken many ways but let’s focus on what interests all race drivers and motorsport fans, lap times. This week you will learn about Formula E’s work to increase lap times, a Nissan Hybrid shattering lap time records and riding onboard an STCC development car as it laps Mantorp Park.
You will also find out about the NISMO Festival’s focus on sustainable motorsport, Dakar Rally’s Mission 1000, and Lawrence Stroll’s dirty flying habits.
All this and more in this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Your source for sustainable high performance motorsport news.
Sustainable Motorsport News
A delegation representing the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, its teams, and partners, will be at COP28 to showcase how high-performance sport and sustainability can exist together without compromise.
“Elite sport reaches a global audience of billions every week,” says Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds. “Athletes are among the most-followed and influential people on the planet. Collectively, we have the potential to make positive changes for a more sustainable future and encourage fans to do the same. To use popular football manager parlance, we need to ‘give it everything’.”
The door to a professional racing career will swing open for one Porsche Junior. Twelve talented up-and-coming racing drivers took part in a three-day selection process at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. All of them hail from the worldwide Porsche one-make cups. Their goal: to become the 30th Junior in the 26-year history of this exemplary development initiative for young drivers. Historically, the program has produced world champions, Le Mans overall winners and DTM champions.
The twelve invited Porsche Junior candidates all have one thing in common: they were no older than 24 at the time of the selection process. In 2023, these talented youngsters turned heads at the wheel of the 911 GT3 Cup contesting one of the sports car manufacturers’ more than 30 one-make cup series. On the 4.653-kilometre Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, they pitted themselves against their rivals in ideal conditions. During the two days, the youngsters turned a total of 820 laps over a total of 3,841 kilometres on the Portuguese Grand Prix circuit. The four Cup racing cars they had at their disposal were powered exclusively by nearly potential CO₂-neutral fuel from the Chilean eFuels pilot plant “Haru Oni”. The plant is the result of a joint initiative between Porsche, the Chilean company HIF Global (Highly Innovative Fuels) and international partners such as Siemens Energy. HIF Global runs the facility.
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Nissan) and Nissan Motorsports & Customizing Co., Ltd. (NMC) have announced the outline for the 24th NISMO Festival. The fan appreciation event will be held at Fuji Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture on December 3.
The festival’s theme this year is the challenge for sustainable motorsports utilizing electrification technology and carbon neutral fuel (CNF). The Nissan Formula E racecar — a symbol of Nissan’s electrification technology — will perform a demonstration run at the festival ahead of the FIA Formula E World Championship. The series will make its Japan debut next March in Tokyo. The LEAF NISMO RC and the CNF-powered Super GT Nissan Z GT500 will also make demonstration runs.
Takao Katagiri, head of Nissan’s Motorsports Business Unit and president of NMC says: “This year’s NISMO Festival will resume the pre-pandemic tradition of giving fans opportunities to interact with drivers and teams, with activities such as race car taxi rides, a circuit safari and experiences for kids. The Nissan Formula E racecar and the Nissan Z GT500, which will compete in the upcoming season, will also perform demo runs. The festival promises to make fans look forward to the future of NISMO.
The festival will also be streamed live online on the official NISMO YouTube channel.
In a press release describing Another Record Setting Year for Lime Rock Park, the race track outlined a fascinating sustainability project that they have been hosting.
“With an ongoing commitment to sustainability, Lime Rock Park even partnered with Beeworks to house thousands of honey bees on Park property. The bees pollinated the flowers and forage around The Park over the summer and the honey they produced was extracted, filtered and used in special curated food items for fans to get a real taste of Lime Rock Park.”
Despite the fact that the Aston Martin F1 team received the three-star FIA rating for environmental sustainability recognition, team owner Lawrence Stroll took 1,512 flights since the start of 2022, going against the team’s pledge to reduce its carbon footprint.
“Stroll in particular was one of the worst offenders and, of those investigated, the Canadian billionaire made the most journeys of 15 minutes or less. The Guardian also further investigated exactly where Stroll was flying to and found that some of his common journeys were from his home in Switzerland to the Aston Martin HQ near Silverstone, trips to Monaco and trips to the private island Mustique where Stroll reportedly owns a house.”
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
Motorsport Week takes a dive into the technical details of the recently-named H24EVO model from the ongoing MissionH24 project which aims to bring hydrogen to Le Mans in the upcoming years.
“The latest H24 model claims to have improved on the volume and weight distribution of the hydrogen (H2) tank, meeting the demands of a race car without significantly compromising performance as the tank is depleted.”
During a Gridlife event at the Lime Rock Park track, Sasha Anis laid down a sub-52-second lap in his gas-electric Nissan, beating a heavily modded C6 Corvette by 2.7 seconds.
“To give perspective, with our hybrid system, to make nearly 200 more horsepower, we added 300 pounds, and it scales from there. There’s certainly the potential for a hybrid system to be better or as good as a combustion engine on the race track.”
Embracing full electric cars for 2024 is a leap into new territory for the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, but one that has the potential to reap success. Autosport sent 2023’s IMSA GTP champion, Alexander Sims, to Mantorp Park to try out the STCC’s test mule.
“The organisers need spectators to buy into it, but I’m confident that it can still be the exciting spectacle that touring car fans expect with close racing, the odd bump and crash, and the cars moving around on track. From my short experience, I’m sure the box will be ticked in terms of the cars looking lively!”
There has been a lot of Formula E news in the past week as the series announced their final schedule with additions of Tokyo and Shanghai and a change in Italian venue from Rome to Misano. The series is also looking at much faster lap times for an update to the Gen3 car as well as testing the new fast-charging system.
Formula E has also won the inaugural Net Zero Strategy Award. The award has been created by edie to ensure that the companies pushing towards a more sustainable future are celebrated and recognized, with the award running alongside the well-respected edie Award. The edie Award showcases the most sustainable businesses in the world.
Julia Palle, Vice President, Sustainability, at Formula E, said: “We are thrilled to have our world-leading net zero carbon strategy recognised by edie’s inaugural Net Zero Awards. With 10 years of racing under our belt our mission is not only to remain the most sustainable sport on the planet, but to inspire and encourage other sports and sectors to do more and move faster. We can all do more to reduce our impact on the environment, but with a clearly defined net zero carbon strategy the impact can be truly game changing in protecting people and the planet.”
The 2023 MAN TGA 26.480 6×6 truck diesel/hydrogen fuel mix was balanced at fifty-fifty apiece, though KH-7 plans to increase the hydrogen ratio to ninety percent for 2024.
According to Fran Pallas who will pilot Green Power Race’s electric bike, weight is the enemy. “The handicap of electric motorcycles is the weight, because they now weigh more than a combustion motorcycle,” he explained. “Right now, a Rally weighs around 170 kilos, and I will leave with 220. That is a lot of difference in weight, but if a double refuelling is done, you can go with less battery, which is what it really weighs, and try to equalise the weights of a combustion engine to be competitive. In terms of power, the electric one is more than enough.”
Mission 1000 is a new class for hydrogen, electric, and hybrid vehicles. While it follows the same route as the main Dakar Rally each day, participants will race on a separate 100-kilometre route. Besides Green Power Race and KH-7, Japanese auto manufacturers will enter the program with the HySE-X1 hydrogen car while Rainbow Truck Team has a hydrogen-powered Volkswagen Amarok.
Pioneering racing series Extreme E has won two prestigious accolades at the 3rd Annual British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS) Awards (7 November 2023). Extreme E received the Strategic Leadership Award, while the championship’s Social Impact and Fan Engagement Strategist, Naganethra Reddy, won the highly-coveted Rising Star Award.
BASIS aims to harness the power of sport to build a sustainable future, empowering sport in the UK to become a world leader in sustainability with the urgency dictated by science, leveraging the significance of elite sport to guide society towards social and environmental sustainability.
In addition to the above, Extreme E has signed a multi-year partnership with Ocean Bottle. “Extreme E has a shared environmental focus with Ocean Bottle on reducing emissions and combatting the climate crisis, with driving innovation at the forefront of this partnership. It is great to work with Ocean Bottle to remove a quarter of a million plastic bottles from our oceans as part of this agreement, and we look forward to exploring further opportunities to deliver more climate-friendly initiatives as part of our collaboration.”
In IMSA President John Doonan’s column 268 Days of Racing – Years in the Making, part of what he discusses is sustainability, accessibility and IMSA.
“Balancing our 2023 success while growing into 2024 and beyond is a charter my leadership team and the France family take exceptionally seriously. In many ways, this was a breakthrough year, allowing motorsport to showcase the future of mobility. We recognize our role in serving the automobile industry as a platform in a changing industry and consumer perceptions. We act upon our duty to provide access to our sport for participants from all backgrounds and means, and we understand the responsibility of the IMSA platform to lead by example with practical environmental steps such as solar energy in the paddock and renewal consumables.”