The Challenge and Promise of Sustainable Motorsport

There is both challenge and promise in sustainable motorsport as this week’s edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup makes clear.

For example, hydrogen is often touted as a natural fit for motorsport, but there are several technical hurdles to overcome to make it feasible for the track. The same can be said for battery technology, sustainable fuel, tires, logistics and transportation to and from the circuit. But the great thing about motorsport is that these are seen as challenges to overcome, and this week gives you a taste of that.

I bring you details on how racetracks are adapting to having more electric vehicles both on and off the track, how hydrogen is posing challenges and the steps that are being taken to deal with them, how the introduction of a new, and how a more powerful electric racing motorcycle will lead to the growth of electric motorcycles on the roads in the future.

These are just some of the stories featured in this week’s Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects and there are many more. Its green news racers can use.

Sustainable Motorsport News

McLaren Formula E Car

McLaren has endured a rough few years in F1 lately so that it was no surprise when they announced major organizational changes. While Chris Medland explains why McLaren wanted an overhaul, Dominik Wilde explains why the company is all-in on electric racing. “If you take a look at the portfolio — with Formula 1, with IndyCar, with Formula E, Extreme E, and Esports as well — it presents this unique proposition for McLaren as a brand. The thing I personally find really exciting about it is that McLaren doesn’t exist for any other purpose than to go racing — that’s our focus 100% — and as long as the series in which we’re racing adds value to that whole portfolio then it makes perfect sense.”

Tesla TTEV
The vast majority of EVs at NASA events are in time attack events and HPDEs, but NASA has seen enough interest from EV racers to justify the creation of a bespoke TTEV class in its Time Trials category. (Image via PRI)

As more and more battery-powered vehicles enter the automotive market, racers are starting to figure out where the burgeoning technology can shine in road racing disciplines. Now road courses and sanctioning bodies are responding in turn. “Attendance and demand have definitely grown over the past few years,” said Steven Sewell of Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Connecticut. “There is a clear need to accommodate both the racers and the consumers who’re embracing BEVs (battery electric vehicles), and our goal is just that. We want to stay current.”

World Motorsport Symposium

In the February issue of Racetech Magazine, they review the recent Sustainable Motorsport 2030 forum that was part of the World Motorsport Symposium. You can find an online summary here. “The theme for WMS 2022 was ‘Sustainable Motorsport 2030 – From Race to Road’. “Racing is the fast track to the adoption of advanced technologies on the road but the path from race to road is only open if knowledge is shared,” stressed Formula 1 Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds, co-chairman of the event with former Audi engine guru Dr Ulrich Baretzky.“The World Motorsport Symposium provides the ideal forum for open discussion and the dissemination of that knowledge,” he continued. “This ensures that technologies that can contribute to subjects such as safety and sustainability become more accessible.””

Sustainable Motorsport Tech

Between a rock and a hard place: developing a new type of hybrid system is hard but designing it uniformly for all manufacturers while still accommodating all wishes and requirements as best as possible makes it the ultimate challenge. In episode 4, we talk to partners and manufacturers about what makes LMDh so special to them. We discuss the collaboration, and take a closer look at the system in our special test bench where we put it through its paces.

Going the Distance is the documentary series about Bosch Motorsport’s development of the hybrid system for the new Le Mans Daytona hybrid prototype class. Here you’ll get exclusive insights from the developers behind the hybrid system of the highly complex prototype race cars. The new regulations allow manufacturers and teams for the first time in more than 20 years to compete with the same car in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the world’s two most important endurance racing series – including the classic 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and 1000 miles of Sebring.

Check out all the latest episodes:

More information on the hybrid system:

Toyota has revealed that its hydrogen-fueled Corolla race car will not compete in the upcoming round of the Super Taikyu series following a fire during testing. According to the team, a leak from a hydrogen pipe within the engine bay occurred, with the leaking gas igniting. The cause of the leak was vibration loosening a pipe coupling. As the joint was close to the engine, there was sufficient heat for the hydrogen to ignite.

The test was conducted using a new, liquid hydrogen fueling system, which represents the next stage of development for Toyota’s racer. The use of liquid rather than gaseous hydrogen greatly reduces the volume needed to store the fuel, albeit with a host of challenges related to the cryogenic cooling required to keep it in a liquid state. Toyota was at pains to point out that the leak was not related to or a consequence of the switch to liquid fuel.

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

Last week I talked about e-Fuels and Porsche’s work in that area. Here are some more articles that look at the technology.

I mentioned last week about the FIA Karting Championships using sustainable fuel but here are more details. “P1 Racing Fuel makes its debut in FIA Karting Competitions with 100% Renewable Fuel Solution. “The selected fuel is a 100% renewable product made from second generation bio-based components and synthetic fuel produced by German manufacturer P1 Racing Fuels which has been selected as the official fuel supplier for the FIA Karting Championships, Cups and Trophies from 2023 to 2025 (with the exception of Superkart). This decision is set to become reality at the first round of the FIA Karting European OK & Junior Championships in Valencia from March 23-26.”

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

I have talked a lot about the potential and challenge of using hydrogen in motorsport. James Newbold in Autosport looks to answer the question, how close is the widespread adoption of hydrogen in motorsport? “There’s a lot to do and a lot to have a look at, but it’s like a snowball at the moment,” says AVL Racetech motorsport director Ellen Lohr. “You see this snowball gets speed and suddenly there will be the point where it’s just rolling and being big and there. I personally think the ball is rolling already.”

Series News

The Challenge and Promise of Sustainable Motorsport

With the official launch of the new Ducati-powered era of the FIM Enel MotoE World Championship in 2023, partners Ducati and Enel are excited for things to get going both on a technical and sporting front.

“With the Ducati V21L we wanted to challenge the limits of the sector by aiming to create the most performing electric motorcycle ever made for the track. Above all, we wanted to develop the Company’s internal expertise to be ready when battery technology, in particular weight, will make it possible to create an electric street motorcycle with all the characteristics that distinguish a Ducati. Having 18 riders with different needs and riding styles on the track at the same time represents a great opportunity for Ducati to study what could become the character of a future electric Ducati. The first tests in Jerez went very well. Despite unfavourable weather, the feedback on the bike from the riders and teams was very good, with the new unofficial circuit record. Ducati has never built such a large number of prototypes and this too represents a challenge within a challenge for us.”

“As Enel X Way we are the Official Smart Charging Partner of the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Championship, leveraging on our expertise to provide the championship with a sustainable charging solution”, said Elisabetta Ripa, CEO of Enel X Way. “We will provide two charging systems integrated into a fully sustainable micro-grid that also includes a set of battery storage systems and solar panels. This solution, developed especially for the championship, gives us the opportunity to show that through innovation as well as research and development activities we can ensure the highest performance to electric mobility.”

Staying with motorcycles, the FIM Endurance World Championship have introduced the EWC Cares Trophy. The EWC Cares Trophy, created by championship promoter Discovery Sports Events, will recognise the sustainable efforts of registered teams in all activities directly associated with their EWC participation. This new initiative is part of the EWC Cares program, launched last year as a key element of the global corporate social responsibility roadmap developed by Discovery Sports Events and which received an Honourable Mention from motorcycle racing’s global governing body at the FIM Annual General Assembly last December. By deploying a solid sustainability strategy across its portfolio of events, Discovery Sports Events is ensuring that each activity is managed with sustainability at its heart with a firm focus on controlling the environmental, social and economic impact of its actions.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, EWC Series Director at Discovery Sports, said: “Raising awareness of sustainability and being more committed in every aspect of what we do in the organisation of the EWC remain key priorities for Discovery Sports Events. But it’s essential we are not working alone, so we call on our teams to do everything possible to make sustainability an important target. We hope the EWC Cares Trophy will be an added incentive for them. And as it’s a perpetual award the challenge will be for the inaugural winner to win again.”

In MotoGP, the Ducati Corse factory racing team has extended its technical partnership with British multinational oil and gas company Shell. The deal between Shell and the Italian motorcycle-manufacturing company will now run until 2027 and continues to focus on its MotoGP team which recently won the 2022 MotoGP Constructors’ Championship and Riders’ title with the Italian Francesco Bagnaia. “As part of the partnership renewal, Shell and Ducati will also collaborate on preparations for MotoGP’s new era of more sustainable fuels, which begins in 2024. Development for these fuels, which must be 40% non-fossil origin from 2024 and aim at 100% by 2027, will be a key area of focus for the Shell and Ducati teams.”

In my final bit of motorcycle racing news, Green Racing News reports that Gravity Racing has confirmed that they will be competing in the inaugural FIM E-Xplorer World Cup. “Gravity will race under the Spanish flag, securing a multi-year contract to compete in the FIM E-Xplorer World Cup as a private team, where it is hoped that the arrival of this team will inspire other top-level drivers and organizations to join motorsports that have technology and electric mobility as pillars. The Team Manager will be Patricio Tarradas Bultó, while the ownership of the organization is in the hands of Kevin Guyard, who hopes to work together to stand out in the category, offer a great sporting spectacle and contribute to the development of sustainable technology for motorcycles.”

ROWE Motor Oil joins SRO Motorsports America as the Official Lubricant and sponsor of the ROWE Pole Award. “SRO Motorsports made a global commitment to reaching Carbon Neutrality by signing The Climate Pledge. SRO is the only racing series to have signed the pledge orchestrated by Amazon. This commitment, announced in January of 2023, was the final building block that brought ROWE and SRO America. ROWE has been Carbon neutral since 2017.”

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

SRO celebrated International Day of Forests by supporting the planting of 1,900 trees worldwide so far in 2023. Here are some highlights:

  • Trees planted in eight countries across Africa, Asia and South America
  • Continuing effort to support local racing environments sees trees planted in four new UK locations
  • Latest reforestation actions expand SRO’s forest map to 11 countries

“Embarking on a new partnership with the established international organisation Treedom, SRO will support the planting of 500 trees in countries across Africa (Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania), Asia (Thailand, Nepal) and Latin America (Colombia, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic), all of which are photographed and geolocated. Comprising avocado, caoba, coffee, guava, roble, tephrosia and white mangrove, they will help absorb CO2 and produce valuable fruit for the livelihood of local communities.”

The World Rallycross (World RX) series has penned a deal with financial technology services provider Multitude. Multitude leverages its expertise, tools and resources to scale and grow financial technology in a sustainable manner. The brand has had a presence in rallycross circles in previous years through subsidiaries, but this marks the first official involvement from the parent company.

Arne Dirks, managing director of Rallycross Promoter, the operator of the WRX series, said: “After beginning discussions, it immediately became clear that we share a mutual understanding and many common values. Multitude has a strong track record when it comes to creating success stories in its own industry, and we look forward to jointly writing the next chapter and growing together as World RX races into the second season of its exciting electric era.”

Extreme E has named EY as the all-electric off-road racing series’ official sustainability partner for 2023. EY, a global professional services network headquartered in London, has collaborated with Extreme E since 2020, when it agreed a deal to assist the championship in ‘achieving its commitment to minimizing its overall footprint whilst creating a positive legacy.’ In light of that goal, EY has provided a framework to help the series to minimize its environmental impact across each of its remote race locations, delivering prior and post-racing impact assessments to support in Extreme E strategically planning its actions within these areas.

“Under terms of the new agreement, EY and Extreme E will continue to work together to promote the five pillars of Extreme E, known as the ‘Five Es’, through the adoption of ‘XE Talks’. These presentations, facilitated by Extreme E’s Scientific Committee, will educate around the Five Es: E-mobility, Equality, Environment, Energy and Entertainment. In addition to the talks, ‘Thought Leadership’ panels will be held at each of the race events to ‘bring together leading industry voices with Extreme E’s NGO partners in order to discuss how they can work together to tackle the negative effects of climate change in their specific regions.’”

For the past couple days, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course has hosted an unannounced test to help validate components that are planned to be added to NTT IndyCar Series cars next season. Not much information was made available about the test runs, and there were no statements made about how successful the tests were.

“IndyCar’s two engine manufacturers recently took over development of the new hybrid components from MAHLE, which developed the initial design and prototypes. The unique solution will feature a supercapacitor-based hybrid system, with many of the new components tucked inside the bell housing near the gearbox at the rear of the engine.”

The FIA has launched a tire supply tender for F1 (and F2 and F3) from 2025 that includes specific sustainability requirements. “The tender will also require potential suppliers to supply an analysis of the environmental impact of the tyres used in Formula 1, and the successful bid will need to demonstrate best practice and innovation when considering the complete life cycle of the tyres.”

For the first time, Formula Student will offer sustainable fuel options for teams developing internal combustion vehicles in the upcoming competition, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Motorsport UK, the governing body for motorsport in the UK, has provided a grant for entrants to use Coryton sustainable fuels in ICE powertrains within the Formula Student competition.

“The sustainable fuels offered by Coryton will offer an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the combustion vehicles using it at Formula Student, when compared to fossil fuel-based equivalents, without sacrificing performance. It will also bring the competition in line with Motorsport UK’s objectives to achieve greater sustainability across all motorsport series.”

Tristan Chapple talks to Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi about what it is like competing in Brazil’s first Formula E E-Prix. “Since his first all-electric race in 2014, he has become one of the biggest stars in Formula E, using his profile to highlight the benefits of electric cars (EVs) and e-mobility: “Motorsport’s core purpose”, he believes, “is to help society through innovation. Racing fans will embrace electric power when they realise you don’t need pistons and fumes for a thrilling race.””

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.