It is expected that by 2030, there will be nearly two billion cars on the road, with only 8% of those being pure battery electric vehicles (BEVS). That means that other solutions to reduce carbon emissions are required.
As part of F1’s plans to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030, the sport is developing a ‘drop-in’ 100 percent sustainable fuel that will not only be used in F1 cars starting in 2026, but also by most road cars around the world.
Pat Symonds, F1’s Chief Technical Officer, is leading the team tasked with developing this revolutionary fuel and has spent months conducting research to ensure the highest quality product for 2026.
F1 continues its push to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2030.
“It’s been a fascinating challenge,” Symonds says. “When I first started talking about this, no one knew what I was talking about, and to be honest, I’m not sure I did either, so I’ve done a lot of research into it.” We collaborated closely with the FIA, which has a couple of very good fuels specialists, and we received a lot of assistance from our partner ARAMCO.”
Pat Symonds has been instrumental in advancing this challenge.
The fuel revolution has already begun, with F1’s new generation of cars running on ‘E10’ fuel this year – a blend of 90% fuel and 10% renewable ethanol. “The 10% ethanol that we’re putting in now is completely sustainable,” Symonds says. “There are many different types of ethanol, and their quality varies, but this is true green ethanol, and thus fully sustainable.”
WATCH: How Formula One is working to develop a fuel that is 100 percent sustainable.
The fuel that F1 will use in just over three years will be one-of-a-kind and lab-created. “E fuels present such an exciting opportunity,” says Ross Brawn, F1’s Managing Director of Motorsports. “We’re developing an E fuel with a carbon circle that is completely neutral, so the carbon used to produce that fuel is the same as the carbon emitted by the internal combustion engine.” It means that the engines emit no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
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“The great appeal is that once we find this solution, you can use it in your road car without changing the engine.” We will have nearly two billion internal combustion engines on the planet, and no matter what electric or hydrogen solution we find, there will still be two billion cars. There are some parts of the world where those cars will not be converted to electric.
“If we put a fuel that has a much lower environmental impact into those cars, it’s a positive change, and we’ll be sending a strong message that that is a viable option.” All of the oil companies involved in Formula One are committed to this. It will be a fantastic achievement and a fantastic message to the rest of the world that there are other options.”
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Shifting from 10% renewable fuel in 2022 to 100% in a few years is ambitious because it necessitates rapidly increasing product production. However, Symonds believes F1 is on track.
“We’ve been working with ARAMCO and have now tested 39 surrogate fuel blends,” Symonds says. “This has assisted us in understanding the effects of the various types of blends that can be used in a sustainable fuel.” We’ve been testing those in a single cylinder Formula 1 power unit to ensure representative testing, and I believe it’s aided our progress.”
“Formula One has always pushed technology incredibly well,” says Ross Brawn.
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.”
For over 70 years, F1 has been at the cutting edge of innovation, developing the most efficient power unit and hybrid systems ever created. Now the sport is focused on helping drive a green revolution for the entire planet.
“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.”