Changing with the Times
I am not an environmentalist. That may sound like a weird thing to say in a column about sustainable motorsport, but I have never been one to put labels on people or assume them for myself. Labels are for clothes. What I am is a realist and the whole point of these columns is to acknowledge that times are changing and that motorsport needs to not only keep up with these times but to lead if it wants to remain a thriving sport in the medium and long term. One can be passionate about motorsport as well as acting in a way to ensure we have a sustainable future; it just requires an open mind and a willingness to learn.
In the recent Blackbook Motorsport webinar Global pedigree – In discussion with American racing royalty with John Olgun of Chip Ganassi Racing and Jim Wright from Andretti Autosport, two teams involved in Sustainable Motorsport, Olgun was very clear as to why the sport is moving towards sustainability.
“Racing is a function of what is happening in the auto industry and the auto industry is going electric.”Global pedigree – In discussion with American racing royalty – May 2021
And as Zack Brown of McLaren recently noted in his We Must Continue to Change column:
The climate change emergency is having a profound effect on every global organisation and we at McLaren are not alone in developing our sustainability agenda as we strive towards a net zero carbon footprint and transition to circularity. And the positive changes we are making to navigate this transition will continue to instill confidence in our fans, investors and stakeholders. But as a sport we must continue to prioritise action in this area.
This is a continuous journey, which affects everyone in their daily lives. Whether it’s small things, such as eliminating single-use plastics, or on a larger scale in following the guidance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to be net carbon zero by 2030, or our transition to a circular economy through waste reduction, reuse and recycling.We Must Continue to Change – April 2021
The continuous journey is the key thing. As I have pointed out elsewhere, change does not happen overnight, it is a process. When Formula 1 announced their program to ban single use plastics at Grands Prix recently, comments on social media (which I really try to avoid these days) screamed how they had jumbo jets moving gear from race to race, giant motor homes in the paddock, diesel generators, 18 wheeler trucks, oil company sponsorship etc. so therefore; (a) this was a pointless gesture or (b) they should be 100% instantly sustainable. While the reality is that this is all true, you have to start somewhere. As a way of illustration, I am working to make this very website more sustainable (I will report on my progress on this project in the coming few weeks) but it cannot be 100% overnight for a number of complicated and sometimes costly reasons. It will happen but it is a journey and let’s not fool anyone, it will never be 100% sustainable, just like motorsport or pretty much any human activity.
Another thing that is important to realize are the opportunities that Sustainable Motorsport present to drivers and teams. This was made clear by Wright in the seminar when he stated that for Andretti:
“Electric racing allows us to knock on sponsor doors that we never could before.”Global pedigree – In discussion with American racing royalty – May 2021
This was exactly my point in Getting Green Tech Motorsport Sponsorship in this Age of Sustainability. Beyond being the right thing to do, being more sustainable could potentially lead to more opportunities.
With that being said, here is what has been happening in the world of sustainable motorsport since the last round-up.
Sustainable Motorsport News & Moves
Hydrogen and Motorsport
Hydrogen as a fuel in motorsport is an ongoing topic of discussion and is being actively developed by some teams and manufacturers.
Toyota has successfully completed their test of a hydrogen-powered Corolla at the Fuji 24 Hours. According to Motorsport.com:
The Rookie Racing-entered Corolla, which burns compressed hydrogen in its turbocharged 1.6-litre inline three-cylinder engine, completed a total of 358 laps in the Super Taikyu blue riband race at an average speed of 67.963km/h – less than half of the laps of the race-winning Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3.
The Corolla completed the race with 35 pitstops (giving an average stint length of 10.2 laps), which were estimated to take around seven minutes each – meaning the car spent around four hours refuelling. Further time was also lost in the pits repairing an electrical issue in the night.Toyota gives hydrogen car successful debut in Fuji 24 Hours – Motorsport.com
Granted times were not all that competitive both on or off the track but the point was to test in a racing environment and on that basis the test was successful.
And it is not just Toyota that are positive on hydrogen. Forze Hydrogen Racing have been intensively testing a hydrogen-powered LMP car. Green Racing News reports:
The Forze Hydrogen Racing team’s vision goes beyond building technology-rich vehicles and pursuing racing titles. It is a look at the damage that fossil fuels are doing to the planet and contribute to reverse this situation.
“You may be wondering, why are we doing this? It is because we truly believe that hydrogen is the fuel of the future and that we need an alternative to fossil fuels. Obviously, the world is warming, the climate is changing, and if we continue like this, future generations will not have a world to live in,” Warnat warned.
“Renewables are an amazing idea, but the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. We believe that with hydrogen we can store a large part of the green energy that is produced in the form of hydrogen,” she said.Forze Hydrogen Racing: a team betting on hydrogen as the future and shines in motorsport – Green Racing News
I have always said there is no one solution but multiple solutions that should battle it out in the labs and race tracks of the world. Ultimately hydrogen, like any technology will succeed or fail based on its merits and it is nice to see motorsport involved as the proving ground.
Lamborghini goes Electric
Lamborghini have shocked many when they announced a significant move into electric mobility but it should not be a surprise. If you look at some of the recent hypercar announcements you will see that electrification and extreme performance are not mutually exclusive. For more details check out Here Is Lamborghini’s Future Electrification Strategy at Autoweek, Lamborghini’s going all-in on electrification, with a full EV due after 2025 at Driving and Lamborghini Drops $1.8B to Enter Electric Market over at Front Office Sports. While some have wondered about their motorsport program, they did recently announce a new Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 for 2022 for GT racing so short term I think that is secure. Medium to long term there is always the new FIA Electric GT Championship to fill their electric motorsport needs.
Bentley wants to Tackle Pikes Peak Sustainably
If Lamborghini shocked you, check out Bentley’s new Pikes Peak contender over at Daily Sportscar! Since the ended their GT3 program it looks like they are going full in on sustainability according to the article:
Despite it’s extreme appearance and design performance, the Pikes Peak car also signals a change of direction for Bentley as the brand uses the programme in the launch of a major new sustainability initiative, with a renewable fuels research and development programme. The car will be the first competition Bentley to run on renewable fuel, ahead of a goal to offer sustainable fuels to Bentley’s customers around the world.
The modified Continental GT3 racer, will run on a biofuel-based gasoline. Various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated, with possible Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of up to 85 per cent over standard fossil fuel. This first step marks the start of a longer programme that will investigate both biofuels and e-fuels for their potential to power the Bentleys of past and present in a sustainable way.Bonkers Biofuel Bentley Prepped For Pikes Peak – Daily Sportscar
Three Stars for Eurosport Events
Eurosport Events, the promoter behind the FIA Electric GT Championship has recently announced that they are the latest motorsport organization to get their three-star FIA environmental accreditation. Expect more teams and championships to do so as the months progress.
Here are Some More Interesting Sustainable Motorsport News Stories to Check Out
I mentioned on the last Sustainable Motorsport Round-up the launch of the Tripe E Podcast. Well the first episode is out and you can listen here.
Speaking of podcasts, Tristan of Niesslein Sustainability Partners who co-hosts the Triple E podcast with Jess Shanahan of Racing Mentor will be the guest on next week’s Green Thru podcast and will be answering questions. You can find out more info here.
Petroleum without Fossils
Finally, Paddy Lowe has been doing some interesting work with sustainable fuels. The idea is that this would be a drop-in replacement for current fossil fuels for use in motorsport and beyond. Check out this video for more details.
A number of series such as MotoGP, the FIM and SRO and the Mull Rally have announced sustainability initiatives. Exciting stuff. Check it out below.
Getting to the Track
One of the biggest issues in sustainable motorsport is not the cars or bikes themselves but the logistics of getting those cars and bikes to the track. I have been tracking some interesting initiatives in electrical transport trucks, sustainable aviation fuel and green shipping. Here are just two articles to give you a taste of some of the developments. It is early days yet but progress, while sometimes slow is rapidly accelerating.
GreenTech to Look Out For
Here are some Greentech developments you might want to take note of. Not all will succeed but success always leaves a path of failure and dead ends in its wake.
That’s it for this edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Round-Up. I will be back with another edition in 2 weeks. If you have any Sustainable Motorsport news you think belongs on the Round-Up please let me know.
Stay safe and see you at the track.