Saudi Arabia Go All in on Electric Racing

Saudi Arabia, through its Public Investment Fund, has made a huge investment in electric racing and this highlights a busy week in sustainable motorsport. In addition to the PIF investment I have details on why Maserati and Andretti Global have chosen to race in Formula E, Audi’s awesome hybrid Dakar challenger and the importance of sustainability in the World Endurance Championship.

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

Electric 360

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has unveiled a multi-year partnership, Electric 360, with Formula E, Extreme E and E1 to support the growth of electric motorsports and their role in advancing the future of electric mobility.

Alejandro Agag, Founder and Chairman of Formula E, Extreme E and E1 said: “This one-of-a-kind partnership with PIF is a huge milestone for us in our journey to pioneer the most cutting-edge sustainable transport technology. With so many examples of the positive real-world impact of each series, this 360-partnership takes our potential to the next level. PIF will not only play a strategic role in helping us leverage our unique technological platforms, but also foster global collaboration, education and skills development for the next generation worldwide.”

Mohamed AlSayyad, Head of Corporate Brand at PIF, said: “At PIF, we believe in the power of partnerships, investing in innovative collaborations as part of our focus on ‘Investing in Better.’ These partnerships will enhance the quality of life for people, provide opportunities for the communities we serve, and help continue our work as a catalyst for transformation.

“Together with these championship series, Electric 360 will redefine electric sport and supercharge its growth, delivering tangible impact aligned with our broader business strategy as PIF drives new green technological innovation that will be the cornerstone of future electric mobility.”

Here is a sample of the coverage and analysis:

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

Thought leaders descended on the Business Forum at the recent Autosport International to discuss challenges and opportunities facing motorsport, ranging from the move towards renewable fuels, competing pathways to reduce emissions and the growth of artificial intelligence. James Newbold of Autosport reflects on what was said and pick out some favourite moments from the four-day extravaganza with some great conversations around sustainable motorsport.

There are a lot of competing threads – electric, hydrogen, hydrogen-combustion, and sustainable fuels – and I think what we’ve really got to be careful not to do is let the best be the enemy of the better,” added IMSA’s senior manager of performance and simulation Bill Pearson.

The Global Sustainability Benchmark in Sport (GSBS) has released its list of the most sustainable sports for 2023 with Formula E taking pole position. 

The GSBS is an independent, global, not-for-profit organization, which analyses and rates the sustainability performance of professional sports organizations. Its reporting framework is based on a mix of internationally recognized standards and best-in-class reports from different industries – which covers four key categories: Corporate, Environmental, Social and Governance.

This year, the not-for-profit invited almost 500 organizations to participate, encompassing motorsport, football, tennis, and other major sports leagues. Notably, 55 of the most influential organizations in the sporting world, including Formula 1, Premier League, and Real Madrid, participated in the initial assessment.

You can download the report here.

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

Racer looks at why Maserati chose Formula E for its return to racing.

I think the positive thing that all these things have in common is that we really are credible and authentic about the fact that we said we wanted to go back to racing and we decided to do it. And it’s a full plate, because you’re talking to different audiences. Formula E, you have motorsport fans, but you also have people that maybe are not so engaged in motorsport but they love technology, innovation. They want to know, ‘What am I going to drive in the future? What I can learn from Formula E?’

Maserati MSG Racing have also announced the launch of a brand-new innovative sustainability campaign which goes by the name of SEVENTEEN.

As a team, we’re committed to advancing sustainable human progress, and as part of racing in Formula E, we have a responsibility to leave a positive legacy in each location we race,” said Maserati’s Chairman and Managing Partner Scott Swid.

From our perspective, it’s clear that our audience feels the same way – we’ve seen how passionate they are about the environment, our sport, and our vision, and SEVENTEEN is another step forward in our mission to leave the world in a better state that we found it. We’re looking forward to sharing what will surely be an educational, rewarding, and life-changing journey.”

Andretti Formula E

Racer explains how Formula E plays a key role in the Andretti Global portfolio. “Formula E, we felt, was an interesting championship,” Griffiths continues. “It ticks a lot of boxes as far as we’re concerned. Michael has always been a big advocate around the environment. Whether electric is the right direction from his perspective is another matter, but he certainly wanted to explore it.”

Eco-friendly brands and sustainable motorsport

In How Brands Drive Sustainability Through Motorsport Partnerships, professional race driver Alexander Koreiba explains how brands are aligning their green initiatives with strategic motorsport sponsorships. You can read it on Motorsport Prospects here.

Surfing legend Kelly Slater has revealed he is trying to persuade seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton to design an electric racing track according to Planet F1.

According to Beach Grit, he said: “I’m trying to talk Lewis Hamilton into designing an electric racing car course, like a track, electric car track. Even if you don’t surf it’ll be the best place ever.”

Sport’s crucial role in establishing the European Green Deal has been underlined in a new report published by the European Commission.

Published at the end of last year, ‘Sport’s contribution to the European Green Deal: A sport sector playbook’ from the European Commission’s Green Sport Expert Group details key findings of sport’s relationship with sustainability. It also includes inspiration and best practice guidelines for organisations in Europe on how to run more sustainably.”

Sustainable Motorsport Tech

Saudi Arabia Go All in on Electric Racing

Gen3 Formula E Car

Goodwood Road & Racing bring you the details of what it is like to drive a Gen3 Formula E car. “What struck me first was the feel of the controls. The throttle was so compliant to my input, the tension on the pedal ensured it was glued to my foot at all times, which made for an instant symbiosis between my thoughts and the behaviour of the electric motor.”

Audi RS Q e-tron

Racecar Engineering looks at how Audi developed a history-making hybrid Dakar winner. “The car is a unique type of hybrid, running on electric power to the axles, while the battery is range extended through the use of a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre internal combustion engine taken from the manufacturer’s DTM Class 1 project. The TFSI engine operates at between 4500 and 6000rpm, due to its relatively light workload, and has a consumption well below 200g/kWh.”

The February edition of Race Tech Magazine have a two articles covering sustainable motorsport. You can buy your copy here.

  • POWER TECH: FORMULA E: With fast-charge pit stops on the agenda, the new Formula E season carries the all-electric series into fresh territory. Alessandra Ciliberti, ABB FIA Formula E World Championship technical manager, gives Chris Pickering a glimpse of what’s ahead.
  • GREEN TECH: EXTREME E: Olivia Hicks reports from Chile’s season finale on Extreme E’s attempt to bridge the gap between utilities and environmentalists.
  • They also cover F1 joining the hydrogen alliance and Audi’s RS Q e-tron program at Dakar.

Formula Student: Drive to Recharge

Battery development software company About:Energy has launched Formula Student: Drive to Recharge to help address the UK’s battery skills gap and support the development of 1,500 battery engineers by 2030.

As part of the initiative, About:Energy has sponsored five Formula Student teams from universities across the UK (Edinburgh, Oxford Brookes, Loughborough, Imperial College London and Birmingham). It will provide each team with simulation tools and education resources to enhance battery pack design.

Series News

Saudi Arabia Go All in on Electric Racing

Extreme E’s global off road electric racing series is staged in remote, climate affected locations around the world. In 2023 they helped plant 50,000 trees globally, worked with partners to preserve the Saudi Arabian coastline’s wildlife and removing 560kg of plastic waste from its beaches. Watch the video above for a taste of what they have accomplished so far.

In Formula E news, Sam Smith from The Race looks at the issues surrounding NRE – or ‘non-recurring engineering’ – costs. This is a broad term defining a one-off cost that results from developing, designing and implementing a manufacturing process for a new product.

The question of which way Formula E goes about sharing the cost of Gen4 is very much tied to the number of manufacturers within the series and, with manufacturers not expected to commit to Gen4 until early this summer, at present there is obviously an element of stasis in the decision making.”

Usain Bolt

Stefan Mackley in Autosport meanwhile looks at why Usain Bolt’s Formula E cameo is only the start in conquering its final hurdle, visibility.

One of the things I talked about was to make Formula E noisier,” Dodds said in Mexico. “I think the component parts in the sport are fabulous, the performance of the cars is incredible, we’ve got great driver line-ups, great manufacturers and we race in great places. But the reality is not enough people know about us and engage with that and I guess in one respect I’m quite critical of that because I think there’s a window of opportunity for us to create noise and generate interest. On the other hand, we’re nine years old and we’re competing against other motorsports that are between 75 and 100 years old, so we’re trying to achieve a lot in a very short period of time.”

Formula E recorded positive numbers in TV viewers and social media engagement after the first race of season 10 in Mexico.

The global live overnight race audience in key markets grew by 57% for the 2024 Hankook Mexico City E-Prix, the first race of Season 10, compared to the corresponding opening race of last season, also in Mexico. Social impressions jumped 205% year on year, while the Formula E website – which features rich content introducing new fans to the sport with explainers and driver profiles – also saw its busiest day since launch as well as peak impressions across organic search at almost double that seen this time last year.

Ahead of the 2024 World Endurance Championship, chief executive Frédéric Lequien discusses with BlackBook Motorsport the series’ recent success, the secret to attracting entries from the likes of Alpine, BMW and Lamborghini, and plans to continue growing in the future. He also touched on the importance of sustainability for the series.

It’s very important. Since 2022, WEC has been using TotalEnergies’ 100 per cent renewable fuel, produced from wine residues from the French agricultural industry. This fuel reduces 65 per cent of the cars’ CO2 emissions.

WEC also introduced a sustainability award in 2023 with DHL, which makes it mandatory for WEC teams to take part in the initiative in line with WEC and the Automobile Club of the West’s (ACO) work on climate issues by involving stakeholders and teams.

There’s also Mission H24 and all the hard work from ACO and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to bring the new hydrogen class to 24 Hours of Le Mans and WEC in the very near future.

Soaring viewership, a global calendar, and blue-chip manufacturers: WEC’s CEO on the ‘golden era of endurance racing’

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

With the move of the Spanish Grand Prix to Madrid in 2026, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali pointed out the sustainability positives of the move.

Easily reached by the city’s existing transport links on public transport, F1 and IFEMA believe 90 percent of fans will be able to reach the circuit via public transport or simply by walking. This is a key concern for the sustainability of the event, with F1 on a push to reach net carbon zero by 2030, while IFEMA itself uses renewable energy across all its buildings and any temporary buildings for Grand Prix use will be made using recyclable materials.

“As we build towards the introduction of the FIA 2026 Formula One regulations, which have been framed with Net Zero carbon by 2030 in mind, it is pleasing to see that the local organisers have placed a sharp focus on environmental sustainability in their plans for the event.

Confirmed: Huge Madrid Grand Prix deal announced, first track details uncovered

Speaking of Formula 1, Whisper, who will be producing Chanel 4’s UK F1 coverage until 2026, have stated that 2024 will see production revamped, with a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.

The DTM has updated their sustainability plans yet again stating that a hybrid future is unlikely for the DTM but full EV and combustion competition is possible. “However, Voss believes there will be a crossover point where combustion cars running on synthetic fuel – something he’s targeting “as soon as possible” – can race “in parallel” with electric cars, as the World Rallycross Championship is set to do in 2024.”

You can read up on some of the past DTM sustainability plans I wrote about here.

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.