Saying that sustainable motorsport is a journey may sound like a clever play on words, but it truly is. If you look at the initial attempts to create more sustainable forms of motorsport such as the Formula E Gen1 cars that could not last a race distance, it is amazing how far the sport has come. And yes, there is still a way to go.
This week in the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup, you can judge for yourself the progress the sport has achieved so far. From hydrogen-powered Dakar Rally race trucks to regenerative Formula E race cars, the full width and breadth of where we are on the journey to a more sustainable motorsport future is there for all to see, and of course judge.
While motorsport will never truly be 100% sustainable, the very fact that it has embarked on this journey, and the solutions it is presenting to society, should be something to celebrate.
Sustainable Motorsport News
At the 2022 FIA Annual General Assembly in Bologna, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem delivered his report to Members after the first year of his Presidency. Here are some highlights related to sustainable motorsport.
- For the first time ever, the FIA will officially take part in COP28 in the UAE next year.
- By 2030 all of our championships will use sustainable energies.
- This year the FIA has reduced its carbon footprint by 6%, beating the annual target in the Paris Agreement.
- Since 2019, the number of Clubs who have achieved environmental accreditation has tripled. Next year we expect it to double again.
- The FIA have won the IOC Carbon Action Award.
Planet F1 has an exclusive interview with Paddy Lowe on life after F1, but he hints that a return may come in another form. “Looking at the question of Formula 1 specifically, Lowe confirmed he and Zero Petroleum would be looking to have discussions with the sport about its requirements for sustainable fuel for 2026, and would consider playing a part in the sport again in future. “We’re definitely interested to be in the mix there,” he stated. “It’s not completely clear what’s wanted by Formula 1 as it seems to chop and change a bit, but as the requirements really firm up it will be definitely something we would consider and be interested in discussing.”
Rally ace Sebastien Loeb has praised electric motorsport on Racer.com. “The power of the electric car is really good and the drivability is also good,” Loeb said at the recent Extreme E season finale in Uruguay. “Driving with the electric car is as fun for us as the other one in the car. For sure, from outside it’s not exactly the same,” he admitted. “It doesn’t look the same because we still have passion for motorsport like we know from the past, but I think for the future it’s a normal evolution to go this way.”
SCCA’s Electrified Vehicle Advisory Committee (EVAC) has released proposed guidelines and rulesets for EVs and three EV racing classes. These documents are available for review right now, and the EVAC is seeking feedback. “None of these proposed rulesets have actually been OK’d yet by the Club Racing Board or SCCA Board of Directors,” Frame noted. “But we’re making these rule suggestions available now because we want input to properly assess where the SCCA membership wants to go as far as EVs are concerned.” The EVAC’s proposed guidelines can be reviewed in full by clicking the link buttons below. Member feedback can be submitted via the online form found at crbscca.com, selecting the “Electric Vehicle” category after clicking “Club Racing Board” as the letter type.
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
Formula E driver Lucas Di Grassi poses the question, can a biofuel Turbine-Generator be the next big thing for race cars? “The big advantage of turbines is they are so small; they are the lightest available power source. Nothing else has a power-to-weight ratio that is comparable. A helicopter turbine, for example, is around two feet in size and can generate 1000 horsepower.”
As the Dakar Rally continues to shift towards alternative fuel sources, KH-7 Epsilon Team is doing the same for 2023 as their MAN TGA 26.480 truck will partially use hydrogen. Jordi Juvanteny will drive the truck, numbered #522, with Jordi Ballbé and José Luís Criado as co-pilot and technician, respectively.
“Weighing 11,500 kilograms, the 2023 MAN’s hydrogen power comes from Spanish energy company EVARM, who specialises in converting vehicles for other fuel supplies. The fuel mixes hydrogen and diesel, the former of which is injected from a pair of 420-litre tanks that will be refilled via generator between stages. While the diesel/hydrogen blend is balanced at 50/50, the team hopes to increase to 90% hydrogen for the 2024 race. This would coincide with the Rally introducing a separate category for alternative fuel vehicles that year.”
After a forced two-year break due to Corona, the World Motorsport Symposium of the Race Tech specialist magazine was held in London for the first time again, where experts from all over the world exchange views on the latest trends in motorsport. At the same time, a jury of experts awarded prizes to the most important technical developments. The Audi RS Q e-tron prevailed in the “Racecar Powertrain of the Year” category. Also nominated were Mercedes (Formula E), Toyota (Le Mans Hypercar) and Swindon (BTCC Touring Cars).
A completely production standard 184ps 2.0-litre Mazda MX-5 Roadster has established a benchmark lap time for a zero fossil fuel sustainable fuelled car at a racetrack in each of the UK home nations. Powered by SUSTAIN 100% sustainable road fuel from Coryton, the unmodified Mazda MX-5 completed laps at Anglesey Circuit in Wales, Oulton Park in England, Knockhill in Scotland and Kirkistown in Northern Ireland across a week in which the car also drove 1000-miles around the UK from circuit to circuit on sustainable petrol.
The gorgeous new a track-only De Tomaso P900 debuts with a newly developed V12 engineered to run on synthetic fuels. “The engine is shaping up to be a marvel of engineering as De Tomaso claims it’s the smallest and lightest V12 ever developed, tipping the scales at just 220 kilograms (485 pounds). It revs to a screaming 12,300 rpm or 200 rpm more than the Cosworth V12 fitted to the Gordon Murray T.50. The naturally aspirated mill produces 900 horsepower in a vehicle that has a dry weight of 900 kg (1,984 lbs), thus giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 1:1 akin to the Koenigsegg One:1.”
IMSA is branding their new GTP class as the most sustainable racing platform in North America. “IMSA has greatly benefited from the participation and activation of our 18 automotive partners and many other corporate partners,” Doonan said. “Our strength has been our ability to understand what is important to our partners and develop a platform that enables them to meet their objectives. The number one objective for most – if not all – of them is sustainability, and we will work together with them and our partners at the EPA, DOE and SAE International to continue and expand our leadership position in this critical area.”
IMSA president John Doonan joins RACER’s Marshall Pruett and DailySportsCar’s Graham Goodwin to discuss the series’ North American leadership role with sustainability and technology in motor racing, the explosion of entries for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and more before the rest of the day’s testing action is discussed. You can watch in the video above.
IndyCar has announced that their next-gen engines will now be 2.2-litre motors instead of the 2.4 that they originally announced. Marshall Pruett goes into the economics of IndyCar engine leases as he discusses the reasons why the series has shied away from 2.4 litre engines in IndyCar’s made the right call, for the wrong reasons. “Additionally, and most importantly, their agreement to continue providing engines in this new 2.4-liter formula was budgeted around IndyCar finding a third manufacturer. With three brands, each could cover between eight and 10 cars and easily keep the series stocked with full-time entries at or near 30 for the season. Next year, in what would have been the 2.2’s final year, we’re looking at 27 full-time entries.”
The 2023 Formula E season is going to be interesting for a number of reasons. New cars, new rules, new circuits, new teams and new technology all add up to a fascinating mix that will shake things up. While The Race looks at what to expect from Formula E’s big 2023 race format change, drivers Andre Lotterer and Sam Bird figure this Gen3 car is going to take a whole additional skill set to maximize the potential of the cars. One of the lingering questions will be the question of whether Formula E has conquered its biggest Gen3 technical problem? They are confident that they have.
Meanwhile, the hype is growing. You could and should expect coverage in places like Autoweek (How ABB Formula E Series Plans to Take EV Performance, Open-Wheel Racing to Next Level) but the series has also made it to GQ (Jaguar is onto a winner with its new-gen Formula E car).
Formula 1 has unveiled their most recent progress report on their Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. Ellen Jones, Head of Sustainability at Formula 1, said: “We’re now three years into our journey to Net Zero by 2030 and it’s fantastic to see the progress that’s been made already. The work that’s going on behind the scenes to bring this strategy to life is tireless and we are confident that we are building strong foundations for the future of our business and sport. Thank you to everyone across Formula 1, from our fans, teams, race promoters, and many more, for your efforts this year as we build a more sustainable and inclusive business. We look forward to working with you even more in the next year.”
One interesting question I have is related to their work on the calendar according to this point in their presentation.
Started the process of looking at rationalising our race calendar for the future, by engaging with promoters to work towards a more regional approach, over time. We continue to navigate various issues (such as the climate in certain regions during specific months of the year) that restrict the extent to which certain race events can be moved.FORMULA 1 2022 SUSTAINABILITY AND DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
With Autosport recently releasing the expiration dates of the various race promoter contracts, has the issue of “rationalising” the race calendar been included in these contracts, especially the long-term ones?
Miscellaneous Sports Cars
Gerhard Berger has explained his decision to sell the DTM to ADAC but has made it clear that this does not include DTM Electric. “DTM Electric, he added, “is not part of the transfer of trademark rights” to ADAC. “Therefore, we will sit down with our partners in the next few weeks to discuss the next steps,” he said.”
SRO Sustainability has worked to ensure that SRO Motorsports Group meets its environmental responsibilities in 2022 and beyond, with a continued emphasis on emissions reduction supported by a diversified carbon compensation portfolio. This diversified approach helped the SRO Motorsports Group reach 66 percent carbon neutrality in 2022. “The past year has seen SRO support new projects on four continents, bringing its environmental approach into line with the global nature of its racing activities. These include a forest management scheme on Doe Mountain in the United States, which will ensure the long-term sustainability of an 8,486-acre site that might otherwise undergo commercial timber harvesting. It is located in the state of Tennessee, where SRO has raced with GT America Powered by AWS since 2021.”
The UK’s Spectator looks at Extreme E and how it turned motor racing green. “I’m serious. Let me introduce you to Extreme E. Extreme E, or XE for short, is like Mad Max meets The Blue Planet. It’s an off-road championship for custom-made electric vehicles (EVs), racing in some of the world’s most remote and damaged environments, where the drivers take time out to plant carbon-capturing mangroves and swim with sea lions. Imagine Formula 1 with Sir David Attenborough in the commentary box and you get the idea.”
Every Little Bit Counts
Every Little Bit Counts looks at small steps that you can take to decrease your environmental impact and increase your sustainability.
- If you celebrate Christmas, here are some tips on how to celebrate a “green” Christmas.
- “This winter, a lot of people are thinking about climate change. More people than ever before want to adjust their everyday habits in ways that are truly sustainable in order to safeguard the environment. Christmas is a brilliant time to be part of the movement towards a more sustainable future. There are so many ways we can all contribute to creating a better world, from the foods and clothing we wear to the stores we visit and the gifts we give. Here are some quick actions you can do to promote good change and have a more environmentally friendly Christmas this year. Read the tips here.”
The Big Picture
In The Big Picture, I look beyond motorsport to see what other sports are doing in their sustainability journey as well as the issue of sustainability generally. Hopefully this will act as a catalyst for change in the motorsport ecosystem as it demonstrates that in many ways, all sport shares some commonalities that can be tackled with achievable, measurable sustainability practices.
- UN ‘Sports For Climate Action’ Framework – Tips For Organisations On Meeting The Goals
- Sport turning to tech to address sustainability challenges
- Unleashing athletes’ potential for impact
- COP27 – Corporate climate pledges rife with greenwashing – U.N. expert group
Getting to the Track Sustainably
Getting to the Track Sustainably is my occasional column on developments in sustainable transportation that could have some application to motorsport. Since the majority of carbon emissions come from logistics and transportation, this topic is of utmost importance as motorsport works to make itself more sustainable. Here are some articles you may find of interest.
Sustainable Land Transportation
- Electric cars power sales rise in November, but new orders slowing
- Pepsi’s Tesla Semi Trucks Will Change Cargo Haulage Forever
- Toyota Built a Corolla Cross That Uses Hydrogen Like Gasoline
- You’re Being Lied to About Electric Cars
- BMW Files Patent for Regenerative Braking Technology
- Toyota’s New Hydrogen-Powered Pickup Is a Testbed for Sustainable Future Trucks
- BMW iX5 Hydrogen Fuel-Cell EV Enters Production in Europe
- INEOS Inovyn uses green hydrogen truck in ‘European first’
- The Classic Toyota MR2 to Return as an Electric Model
- Blackpool Airport targets hydrogen and low-carbon short-haul opportunities
- France bans short-range domestic flights
- It’s official: France bans short haul domestic flights in favour of train travel
- Airbus teams up with HyPort to advance green hydrogen availability at airports
- Ryanair and Shell join forces for sustainable aviation fuel
- Airbus developing hydrogen fuel cell engine for ZEROe aircraft