Formula 1 still sees life in internal combustion engine, Auto News, ET Auto

Combustion engines, most likely two-stroke, using non-fossil fuels could provide F1 with the necessary performance and speed while still retaining the sound fans love and lack in electric racing.

LONDON: Automakers and governments have phased out the internal combustion engine as they go electric, but Formula 1 still sees a lot of life in it as the sport moves towards a carbon-free future.

Current grand prix cars use a highly efficient 1.6-liter V6 turbo hybrid powertrain, a far cry from the gas-guzzling V12 and V10 monsters of yesteryear, and a new “powerful and emotional” is expected to run 100% in 2025. fuels .

The sport hopes to define the specifications by June of this year.

“Although a lot of people think the internal combustion engine is dead, I would say it’s far from dead,” Technical Director Pat Symonds said at a recent Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) conference. on energy efficient motorsport.

“Sustainable fuels are our big push in Formula 1 and that’s something I think we will need to incorporate into other formulas (too).”

The first samples of 100% sustainable fuel, sourced from second-generation bio-waste, were delivered to F1 powertrain suppliers – Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault in 2022, with Honda leaving and handing over their technology to Red Bull – last December for tests.

Current fuel has a 5.75% biocomponent, increasing to 10% sustainably sourced ethanol from 2022.

Formula 1 aims to achieve a net carbon footprint by 2030, but high-tech sport faces questions about its relevance in a world increasingly focused on clean energy and climate change.

Britain, with a thriving motorsport industry and home to most of the 10 teams, plans to ban the sale of new gasoline, diesel and hybrid cars from 2030.

Formula E founder Alejandro Agag has suggested that F1 will eventually have to merge with its all-electric series which started in 2014.

We have a huge amount of history and traditions based on internal combustion and it just isn’t going to go away overnight. We don’t want that either.Iain Wight, Director of Business Development, Williams Advanced Engineering

Both are sanctioned by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), which authorized Formula E as the only electric championship until 2039.

Others argue that battery technology is not the answer for all forms of motorsport, even in the longer term.

Combustion engines, most likely two-stroke, using non-fossil fuels could provide F1 with the necessary performance and speed while still retaining the sound fans love and lack in electric racing.

“We have a huge history and tradition based on internal combustion and it’s not going to go away overnight. We don’t want that either,” said Iain Wight, business development director for Williams Advanced Engineering.


Former Audi Sport engine chief Ulrich Baretzky saw hydrogen combustion engines as a future path for Formula 1 as well as endurance races like Le Mans, which plans a hydrogen category for 2024.

“In 2025, we will see (again) combustion engines (at Le Mans), because the energy density (of the fuel) is unbeatable for the moment with all the technologies that we know today”, he declared during of the conference.

“Five years later, I hope we will see a mix between hydrogen, combustion, fuel cell.”

Williams F1 CEO Jost Capito, a former Volkswagen Motorsport boss, said the Porsche 911 sports car would never go electric but could be carbon neutral.

He said a huge effort would be needed to improve the cost and performance of biofuels and develop more efficient hydrogen production, but motorsport could rise to the challenge.

The chemicals giant INEOS, co-owner of Formula 1 champion Mercedes, is already one of the largest hydrogen producers in Europe.

“There are technologies that go in different directions but all have the same goal of being CO2 neutral. For me, it’s a really exciting time,” said Capito.

David Richards, chairman of Motorsport UK and engineering firm Prodrive, warned that it would be “a big punt” to say where motorsport will be in 10 years.

He warned that politics would play a role, with electrification being presented by governments as a “nice and easy” solution.

“We have seen (manufacturers) withdraw from most aspects of what we would consider conventional internal combustion motorsport,” said Richards.

“But maybe if we can run these engines on alternative fuels, if we can maybe use raw hydrogen in an internal combustion engine or through a hydrogen fuel cell, we will be able to attract manufacturers again. “

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