Sustainable motorsport on its own cannot solve the climate crisis, nor bring an end to global warming and it should not be expected to do so. What it can do is act as an R&D platform for those developing the technology that will contribute to achieving these goals. Motorsport should always remain true to what it is, a sporting event, but that should never cause it to shy away from real world problems. As motorsport has demonstrated time and time again, it is ready and willing to confront a challenge and to do so quickly, efficiently and effectively. That is what the Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up is all about.
I was on a webinar recently and Casey DePalma of Unilever brought up an excellent point that we should all keep in mind as we all deal with all of life’s issues and complexities. I am paraphrasing but in essence this is what he said: “It’s OK to be on a journey. It is just important to acknowledge that and to identify where you are on that journey.” We will never be 100% sustainable. But that should not prevent us from aspiring to lessen our impact on our environment. We are on a journey and that alone should give us hope that we are working towards a future we want our kids to inherit. It is a journey worth it.
Now to the sustainable motorsport news!
- The big news in Formula E and I am sure a welcome one for the organizers is that Maserati is set to join Formula E as a new manufacturer from 2023. A lot of analysis has been published since the announcement and the topic of if they would eventually compete in F1 even broached. Here is a round-up of some of these discussions.
- Formula E published their annual sustainability report detailing their sustainability initiatives and results. The new report details a series of notable ‘firsts’ in sustainability achieved and implemented during the year by Formula E and its wider ecosystem of teams, partners and stakeholders, reflecting “the Championship’s mission of accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles through elite sport.”
- The report gives an idea as to why Formula E leads in sports sustainability. Look at some of the “firsts”:
- Formula E became the first sport in the world to join the Science Based Targets initiative and the Business Ambition for 1.5°C commitment and plans to reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030.
- The new Gen3 racing car was unveiled by Formula E and the FIA for Season 9. It will be the world’s most efficient racing car with 40% of the energy in a race coming from regeneration and will be certified net-zero carbon.
- Formula E is also the first global sports organization to partner with UNICEF on climate change.
- Despite these advances, some manufacturers have been concerned that development is too restricted. For example Porsche wants to unlock battery development in Formula E. Porsche’s new motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach has proposed a halfway house by ensuring that any battery development is only permitted within strict limits. “Even in a controlled way, we would like to see that the battery in some way is opened to development of the manufacturers. (Perhaps) a standard cell but the rest is free, within certain boundary conditions.”
- But Formula E is not backing down and are in fact looking quite a bit ahead. They are already plotting Gen4 rules with a possible shift to hydrogen being proposed since Formula E chairman Alejandro Agag feels that synthetic fuels are a “Plan B” solution for sustainability. Whether this is a preemptive fire across the bow of Formula 1 which has proposed eventually adopting some form of hydrogen propulsion after the 2025/26 engine is due for renewal is anybody’s guess but I am sure he is eying Formula 1’s sustainability moves warily.
- Envision Racing team principal Sylvain Filippi said that Formula E attracts a younger audience due to their climate awareness who then follow that awareness into racing and specifically Formula E. “So for sure, we see that the younger generation, the more they are in tune with climate change – because they would be the first affected, right – and they really understand it. So of course there’s a full segment of the younger generation that’s following Formula E and our team because all the things we are doing for climate change.”
- The Global Innovation Forum recently featured an interview with Julia Palle and Lucas Di Grassi as part of their GIFVirtual 2021. You can watch the video of the interview below.
- Their season is now over and preparations for 2022 have already begun in earnest but The Guardian looks at Extreme E as part of a great pictorial in Fast, furious and futuristic – Extreme E looks to turn a corner.
- With the huge news that Ducati will be supplying the MotoE bike in 2023, the series is emerging from the background. For 2022, this is how MotoE will be run.
- Speaking of Ducati, their MotoE prototype electric race bike was revealed recently as they began testing it on the track at the Misano World Circuit.
- The FIA has rubber-stamped World Cup status for the ETCR as they enter their second year of competition. The newly renamed FIA ETCR eTouring Car World Cup will be run over seven events between May and November. The series will kick-off with two events on street circuits, on the legendary Circuit de Pau Ville and on a brand-new track in downtown Istanbul.
- Meanwhile the WTCR is set for a hybrid future. Outgoing WTCR managing director Xavier Gavory stated that “This will not be all electric like ETCR, but we will make a transition. Since last season, the series has used biofuels, but it is not enough. The WTCR should move to the hybrid by 2023.”
- Finally, the WSC Group is set to introduce a hybrid kit in TCR for 2023. According to the TCR “the concept involves a plug-in kit that will be distributed by the different manufacturers to be installed in their own models. The aim is to establish an affordable price, taking into account residual values of the different racing cars including those that are second or third hand.” The goal is to be ready from 2023 to supply TCR series that show an interest in implementing the hybrid technology to become HTCR.
Formula 1, Dakar & the DTM
- Pat Symonds has stated that, not surprisingly, F1 overcame “reluctance” to introduce synthetic fuels by 2026. But as Mark Gallagher explains in his Autsport Plus article, F1 must embrace an adapt or die mentality which will shape F1’s future.
- Lucas Di Grassi is all in on sustainable motorsport as he has demonstrated with his support and participation in Formula E and the new eScooter championship so his qualifications are bona fides. But he believes that the DTM doesn’t need to go electric to stay relevant. He makes an important point. There is no one solution to sustainability and motorsport has the opportunity to be a test bed for any and all solutions that will ultimately make a difference. BEV’s will work in some series, hydrogen and hybrids in others. That is what is so exciting and why I always say the future of motorsport is eclectic.
- The Dakar Rally is also becoming an impressive test bed for sustainable technologies as an Aramco-sponsored hydrogen truck was entered in the Dakar Rally.
Junior Driver Development
- When we talk about sustainable motorsport, we are almost always talking about it in the context of the major racing series like Formula E, Formula 1, Le Mans and the WRC. What about the junior development ladder? How can sustainable motorsport be integrated there? On the Formula Scout podcast, FE journalist Hazel Southwell discusses how to electrify junior racing. It is well worth the listen.
- Formula E has made no secret of the fact that they are looking towards developing a junior series to support Formula E. Autosport Plus looks at the fundamental questions facing a Formula E junior series, and they are numerous.
- I have mentioned the ERA Championship in past Sustainable Motorsport Round-Ups but they have been pretty quiet lately. The good news is that they are finally ready to hit the track in anger in 2022 as they have announced that they will be supporting the ETCR Championship in their first season. Truly connected racing indeed.
- As I have mentioned both this week and in past Round-Ups, Formula 1 is serious about their sustainability goals and Pat Symonds has revealed that F2 and F3 are to trial sustainable fuel before F1.
- Are electric karts the future? Ben Cooper tests one and finds out.
- Finally, one name conspicuous in its absence in electric racing is Tesla. There was talk of a one make racing series featuring Teslas a few years ago but nothing seems to have happened. Well the company has announced a partnership with Formula SAE in supporting Formula SAE racing teams with with free battery cells and discounted hardware.
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
As always it is almost impossible to keep track of all the sustainable motorsport technology being developed but here are a few examples.
- Performance Motorsport World looks at the current state of high performance motor and inverter technology. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here.
- GCK Motorsport has unveiled their e-Blast H2 prototype powered by an integrated hydrogen fuel cell. The intention is to compete in the 2024 Dakar Rally, an event that is increasing its sustainability plans both on and off the road and dunes.
- Inside industry has a great look at electric powertrain manufacturer Integral Powertrain.
Getting to the Track Sustainably
The area that motorsport has the biggest negative impact is on the environment with its logistics footprint. How it and its fans gets to the race track is where the change truly needs to happen. Sustainable shipping and aviation are keys for any international motorsport series and sustainable trucking are crucial for land-based transportation to and from the track. Getting to the Track Sustainably is my look at some of the technology developments in the logistics sphere. It is only a sampler of the advances being worked on but they are significant and exciting.
- With Formula E renewing their logistics agreement with DHL ahead of the 2022 season opener, the impact goes far beyond a typical partnership. According to Sport Business: “The two organisations will collaborate on a multi-modal approach to transport that looks to maximise efficiency and reduce Co2 emissions. This will form part of a wider focus on activation that will highlight Formula E and DHL’s continued commitment to environmental and social responsibility.”
- A lot of motorsport fans do not realize the volume of supplies international motorsport ships via sea-based transportation to various tracks around the world. It is considerable and encouragingly, shipping companies are accelerating their research and development in the technologies they need to achieve their quite aggressive sustainability goals. Here are a few articles discussing shipping giant Maersk’s plans for their carbon neutral ships and the challenges they are facing.
- This may be a bit technical but here is a video by the Global Maritime Forum on the synthesis of shipping decarbonization at COP26 and MEPC77.
- Sustainable aviation has its own very specific challenges due to their unique requirements. Here are a few articles giving you a taste of the current state of the art in sustainable aviation.
That’s it for this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up. See you next week with more sustainable motorsport news racers can use!