SUSTAINABLE FUELS IN FORMULA 1 BY 2026

SUSTAINABLE FUELS IN FORMULA 1 BY 2026

It is estimated that by 2030, the number of cars on the road will reach approximately two billion, out of which only 8% will be Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). This highlights the necessity of finding alternative solutions to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

 

In order to achieve their goal of being Net Zero Carbon by 2030, F1 is taking a pioneering approach by developing a 100% sustainable fuel that can be used not only in F1 cars from 2026 but also in most road cars globally. This 'drop-in' fuel is a significant step towards sustainability for the sport and beyond.

 

The team responsible for developing the innovative fuel for F1 and road cars is led by Pat Symonds, the Chief Technical Officer of F1. He has devoted months to in-depth research and development to ensure the highest quality product for its intended release in 2026.

 

“It's been a fascinating challenge,” says Symonds. “At the time I was first talking to people about this, no one knew what I was talking about, and to be honest I’m not sure I did really, so I've done an awful lot of research into it. We've worked closely with the FIA, who have got a couple of very good fuels specialists and we've had a lot of help from our partner ARAMCO.”

 

The fuel revolution has already begun, with F1’s new generation of cars running on 'E10' fuel – a blend of 90% fuel and 10% renewable ethanol – this year. “The 10% of ethanol that we’re putting in now is entirely sustainable,” says Symonds. “There are lots of different types of ethanol, which vary in quality, but this is a true green ethanol – so fully sustainable.”

 

The fuel that F1 will run-in just over three years’ time will be unique and lab-created. “E fuels offer such a wonderful opportunity,” says Ross Brawn – F1’s Managing Director, Motorsports.

 

“We’re working on an E fuel where the carbon circle is completely neutral so the carbon utilised to produce that fuel is the same quantity as the carbon emitted from the internal combustion engine. It means that the engines do not add anything to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The great appeal is when we find this solution, you can use it in your road car, without making any changes to the engine. We will have close to two billion internal combustion engines on the planet and whatever electric solution we find, whatever hydrogen solution we find, there’s still going to be two billion cars. There are parts of the world where those cars won’t change to electric.

If we drop a fuel which has much less impact on the environment into those cars, it’s a positive change and we will be sending a strong message that that is a feasible way to go. All the oil companies that work in F1 are all committed to that. It will be a fantastic achievement and a fantastic message to the world that there are other solutions as well.”

 

The goal of transitioning from 10% renewable fuel in 2022 to 100% in a short period is a challenging undertaking as it necessitates a significant boost in production. However, according to Symonds, F1 is making steady progress towards achieving this objective.

 

“We’ve been working with ARAMCO and have now tested 39 surrogate blends of fuels,” says Symonds. “This has helped us understand the effects of the different types of blends that you can use in a sustainable fuel. We’ve been testing those in a single cylinder Formula 1 power unit so it’s representative testing – and I think that’s helped accelerate our progress.”

 

He adds: “ARAMCO will be producing fuel from two plants, one in Saudi Arabia and one in Spain. There’s going to be a lot of people wanting the product out of them, but they, as well as the many other energy suppliers involved in Formula 1, are more than capable of producing what we need."

 

F1 has been a frontrunner in innovation for over 70 years, continuously striving to develop the most efficient power unit and hybrid systems in existence. Today, the sport is committed to spearheading a global green revolution to promote a sustainable future.

 

“F1 has always pushed technology amazingly well, and pioneered genuine technology that can be used in passenger vehicles and road cars and so on,” says Brawn. “We have an amazingly efficient internal combustion engine.

 

“This concept that when you set the competition, if you set it with the right objectives – if the objective is the best sustainable fuel, then manufacturers will pour millions into development to try and achieve that and then we get all the benefits for the wider society.”

 

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