The sustainable motorsport news has not stopped since my vacation and this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup is packed with tons of news and developments. From the work that McLaren Racing are engaged in to develop a “circular F1 car” to the STCC transitioning to all-electric, the developments continue to accelerate.
And if you think that racing electric cars is boring or “soulless”, check out Chris Harris’ video review of the new Porsche Cayman GT4 ePerformance or Robert Dahlgren’s comments after driving an electric touring car or the comments from the drivers taking part in the ERA Championship test session at Jarama in this edition of the Roundup. Just because it is sustainable does not equate to boring. Sustainable motorsport will always continue to define what we all find exciting about motorsport, just done in a way that minimizes its impact on the environment. There are exciting days ahead!
Sustainable Motorsport News
- Mclaren Racing has partnered with Goldman Sachs to work together on decarbonization solutions that aim to accelerate McLaren’s transition to net zero by 2040.
- McLaren Racing is also targeting a fully sustainable ‘circular’ F1 car as part of their green goals. “One of the new goals is for McLaren to accelerate the transition to a circular economy by researching the development of a fully circular Formula One car, as well as establishing and implementing circulatory practices. The team will look to improve its waste operations, in addition to incorporating sustainability principles early on in the design process, factoring in environmental impacts such as product lifecycle and energy use.”
- Autosport Plus looks at how F1’s future fuels can shape the automotive sector. “What F1 needs is a “drop-in” fuel, which can be used by a pre-existing engine build as a direct replacement for fossil fuels. Thus, the fuel needs to be made up of hydrocarbons to satisfy that – alcohols contain an OH molecule that precludes it from being a like-for-like replacement. And there’s two different variants currently having billions invested into them to satisfy the changing market.”
- In the latest edition of Revolution, the Motorsport UK monthly magazine, their Sustainability Report looks at two interesting sustainable motorsport milestones. The TGR-E United team raced a Toyota GR Supra GT4 in the 50th edition of the Nürburgring 24 Hours using synthetic fuel as part of the Race2eFuels project. They also discussed the Low Carbon Ticket initiative for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans which sought to lower the carbon footprint of spectators attending this year’s event.
- The Game Magazine has an excellent interview with Dr. Cristiana Pace on Sustainability in Motorsport. Dr. Pace is founder and CEO of Enovation Consulting and the interview discusses her work and the prospects for sustainability in motorsport, including her role in the development of the Sustainable Motorsport Index. “I have always been convinced that ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’ and Enovation Consulting brought a data-driven approach to sustainability to motorsport that wasn’t really present in the industry before. I want to future-proof the industry we all know and love by giving motorsport the tools to improve its sustainability performance overall, and to educate fans and stakeholders in general, as motorsport, as any other sports, has the potential to be used as the catalyst for climate education and positive change.”
- This article from RaceFans is from 2020 but is still relevant. It discusses why F1’s pursuit of sustainability will inevitably clash with some of its sponsors. “Today questions of environmental sustainability and pollution are ever more pressing. And the positive associations to be found in Formula 1 are just as alluring.”
- With the news that Lola Cars will be returning after being purchased by US-based Briton Till Bechtolsheimer, who runs an investment company in New York focused on renewable energy, where will sustainability fit in with the new Lola? This is what Bechtolsheimer told Daily Sportscar: So effectively as a showcase for the kind of technologies that we’re going to need to develop to tackle the very known problems we’ve got at the moment with, for instance, climate change? “I think that’s exactly right. The automotive industry is facing a pretty daunting task ahead of it, and motorsport, is therefore in the same boat as well. I think motorsports should be playing a massive role in trying to push the boundaries of what is possible. And that’s the part of this that really excites me.”
Sustainable Motorsport Tech
- In the last few Sustainable Motorsport Roundups I have covered the new Porsche Cayman GT4 ePerformance extensively. In The 2022 Porsche Cayman GT4 ePerformance: The Next Step In the Mission R Program, Stuttcars goes into extensive detail about the goals of the program. It also features a great in-car review from Top Gear’s Chris Harris which you can watch above. “First of all it’s bloody fast…“
- Daily SportsCar has all the details of the all new BMW M4 GT4. Besides being a considerably sophisticated and fast race car, it incorporates some interesting sustainability features. The interior and exterior are made from lightweight natural fibre by Bcomp, as well as the engine bonnet with its aero designed louvres.
- Speaking of Bcomp, Autofutures looks at Swiss company Bcomp which has featured prominently in the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup as they explain why making cars lighter is the “most effective way of reducing their energy consumption.”
- As the ACO outlined plans for the next-generation LMP2 class before the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans, the issue of hybridization came up. “The fact that we’re using the LMDh spine to reduce CO2 emissions… and the car will eventually be able to become hybrid in the longer term.” According to Sportscar 365: “It is understood that the integration of hybrid technology in LMP2 is little more than a potential option for the future, considering the use of LMDh — which is a hybrid formula — as the base.”
- The ACO also confirmed that hydrogen prototypes will be allowed to compete in Le Mans in 2025. “The agenda is unchanged despite several senior sources suggesting a delay due to the current issues with supply chain.”
- Speaking of Le Mans, BioFuels International looks at the wine residue-based biofuel used in this year’s race. The Excellium Racing 100 used by all the cars delivered a reduction in CO2 emissions of at least 65% over its lifecycle. “Biofuels have an important role to play in moving the transportation industry forward by immediately reducing its CO2 emissions. More than ever, this most demanding of endurance races is a testbed for TotalEnergies and a showcase for motorsports as a whole,” said Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies.
- While not directly motorsport-related, the new Apricale from UK-based cleantech engineering firm Viritech demonstrates what they call “revolutionary hydrogen powertrain technology” and it will be publicly displayed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It definitely gives a good idea of some of the research going on in the sustainable automobile space that will directly impact motorsport. Matt Faulks, former F1 engineer and Viritech’s CTO, explained the thinking behind the concept, “Hydrogen fuel cells have, until now, been used as range extenders for powertrains with batteries at their heart. We’ve essentially turned that approach on its head, developing a powertrain around multi-hundred-kilowatt fuel cell system supported by a lightweight but highly efficient battery. This delivers hypercar performance for Apricale, but at less than half the weight of typical BEV hypercars. Not only does this reduction in weight transform Apricale’s driving dynamics, but our reduced reliance on batteries means less demand on rare earth minerals.” Top Speed also some more details and pictures of this impressive hypercar.
- Formula E’s all-new Gen3 race car turned its first laps on the test track at Porsche’s Development Center recently (see video above) and Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein had a good first impression. “It feels great and I’m excited to test it at full power soon. The first impressions today were also very good and it made me hungry for more.”
- It has been announced that Nissan will supply Formula E Gen3 powertrains to McLaren Racing starting in 2023. “Our new partnership with McLaren Racing will be a powerful one, as the association will inspire collaboration and knowledge sharing,” said Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer. “The pioneering spirit and drive to innovate are characteristics Nissan and McLaren Racing share, making them an ideal partner for us in Formula E and as we continue to electrify our vehicles.”
- According to Green Racing News, India has applied to host a Formula E E-Prix. “Specifically Hyderabad, capital of Telangana state in the south of the country, could be the venue for the competition. Earlier this year, the city government, Formula E and clean energy company Greenko signed a Letter of Intent. While this did not guarantee the region a secure place on the calendar, at the time, category director Alberto Longo expressed confidence that the race would receive the go-ahead.”
- The FIA ETCR will have a 14-car entry and a new manufacturer in 2023, according to Marcello Lotti, the president of the WSC Group. “I can confirm that next year there will be one new manufacturer,” Lotti told TouringCarTimes. “These will be two new cars, apart from the ones we have currently involved.”
- NASCAR has announced that they have reduced emissions by 20% since 2011 using Sunoco Green E15 biofuel, a fuel blended with 15 per cent bioethanol. “We’re fortunate to have great partners like Growth Energy and Get Bioethanol who are dedicated to Nascar and helping us minimise our impact on the environment,” said Michelle Byron, vice president of partnership marketing, Nascar.
- I have mentioned in a previous Sustainable Motorsport Roundup how the French Formula 4 Championship is now using biofuel. What I only became aware of from a recent FIA press release that talks about the change was that the German Formula 4 Championship has also switched to a more sustainable fuel source. “Earlier this season, the German Formula 4 Championship also introduced environmentally friendly fuels with an innovative Shell fuel containing roughly 50% sustainable components.”
- You certainly have to admire Toyota’s commitment to hydrogen as their hydrogen-burning Corolla ran nearly 500 laps at the recent 24 Hours of Fuji. Granted they finished last but it was not for a lack of trying, it is just the technology, and an on track crash that are currently limiting the car’s potential. According to The Drive: “That could be because the hydrogen race car pitted 41 times throughout the race to replenish its hydrogen tanks, a process that took roughly seven minutes last year—though it’s still unclear if that process was improved this year. This roughly translates into five hours in the pits just for fuel alone, which was stored last year at a far corner of the track for safety reasons. That, combined with a two-hour stop to repair the damage, means that the hydrogen-powered car spent roughly one-third of the race in the pits and not on the track.”
- Speed Cafe looks at how the SRO is making GT3 racing more environmentally sustainable. “So with such a small percentage of the total emissions from the race cars, the focus has been on the larger contributors first: logistics, fuel, and tyres.”
- In the video above, P1 Fuels explain why the World Rally Championship is the perfect testing ground for their carbon neutral, 100% fossil free fuel. “P1 Fuels are providing carbon neutral fuels for WRC rally cars today, and developing the technology for passenger cars in the future. The FIA World Rally Championship and P1 racing fuels are aligned on their goals of creating a more sustainable future using fossil-free fuel across all WRC categories – breaking new ground in the process.”
- María Herrera has joined the FIM Ride Green Ambassadors team. “The Spanish born circuit racer María Herrera is the latest rider to be inducted as an FIM Ride Green Ambassador and will join Takahisa Fujinami, Greg Hancock, Marc Márquez, Randy de Puniet, Alex Salvini, Laia Sanz, Pablo Quintanilla and Jeremy Seewer in working for future generations by promoting a culture of sustainability in their day-to-day practice of sport and in their everyday life.”
- The STCC has announced that they will become the first national touring car championship in the world to switch to electric power for the 2023 season in a revamp of the Scandinavian series. “Cars will be based on production models that are available to the public and which have then undergone extensive modifications in order to go racing, with the Tesla Model 3 being the first car to be revealed for the inaugural season.” How are the drivers reacting to the change? For Robert Dahlgren, the most victorious and experienced STCC driver who has raced S2000, TTA, V8 Supercars, TC1 and most recently TCR, his reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. “The car is completely hysterical. I came in after two laps with my eyes wide open and the world’s biggest smile, and was completely exhausted. It will require a lot from the driver to race this car on the limit.”
- The ERA Championship recently held a demonstration event at the Circuito del Jarama. 6 ERA drivers and 2 FIA ETCR drivers were on track and experienced the power of the Mitsu-Bachi F110e racing car used in the championship. You can watch the highlights from Eurosport above.
- If you are curious about electric racing in a sim environment, check out the World eX Championship. “The World eX Championship is the global esports racing series for electric experimental prototypes (eX). Nine professional teams are fighting for the ultimate goal: the world championship title and the #racingfortheclimate jackpot. But World eX is more than just esports racing: Our teams and drivers are promoting zero-emission mobility and clean energy. World eX mixes entertaining races with the latest news and trends for a better and cleaner future – via social media, live streaming, TV, our weekly blog “(Un)real”, our partners and last but not least our stunning teams and drivers from the real and unreal worlds.”
- The video above offers some great insight into electric karting from Motorsport Prospects contributor Ellis Spiezia.
The Big Picture
- Sportico has a great article by Scott Jenkins of the Green Sports Alliance on How the Sports Industry Can Save Money—and the Planet. “Besides the direct costs such events can impose on teams and leagues, the connection to paying customers is in jeopardy. Fans, younger ones in particular, recognize their future is at risk, and they have begun holding businesses accountable for their actions by choosing where to spend their money based on how those businesses align with their values. Proactively addressing these concerns will engage and grow the fan base.”
- SportsPro Media has an informative article on debunking myths about sports sustainability. “Whatever the rationale, excuses abound and there remain many myths surrounding sports sustainability which are conspiring to stifle progress. That, in turn, has resulted in token gestures, PR plays or, in some cases, outright greenwashing. Sustainability is just too expensive and too complex to be feasible, so the naysayers claim, and fans simply don’t care enough about environmental issues to warrant the investment.”