What chance for the green Grand Prix?

Is there a green future for racing’s flagship event? Add your view at the opinion section of theengineer.co.uk

Twenty-five years ago, Ronald Reagan was the US president, Bob Geldof was penning the lyrics for ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ and Niki Lauda, driving for McLaren, was F1’s world champion. The intervening years will seem like the blink of an eye for many readers, but in that time the sport has undergone big changes as regulators have sought to make the sport a level playing field and limit the application of technology that could give the driver an advantage.

Today, the sport is being shaped by more fundamental forces. Concerns over climate change and energy use are changing the face of the automotive industry. Hybrid-, fuel-cell- and battery-powered cars are entering the mainstream and it would take a bold person to insist that we will all still be propelled by fossil fuels in 25 years’ time.

So if we accept the possibility that oil-powered IC engines are no longer the dominant mode of road transport, where will this leave F1? Will it evolve to reflect the changes on the road? Will it become an irrelevant heritage event: a high-octane symbol of our oil-guzzling past? Or will it cease to exist?

Extinction seems unlikely. But most experts agree that the vehicles lining up for the 2034 F1 championships won’t be running on gasoline. ‘I can’t really predict it because the energy of the future is not in our hands to control,’ said MIA chief executive Chris Aylett. ‘But my fantasy is that it would be a hydrogen internal combustion engine race series because we’ll have built the infrastructure.’ Just maybe, said Godert Van Hardenbroek, founder of the Formula Zero competition, motorsport could be a catalyst for change. ‘When there are vehicles, people will race them. And when people race them, they will inevitably improve them.’

Is there a green future for racing’s flagship event? Add your view at theopinionsection of theengineer.co.uk