Mercedes PU106B power unit, 2016

F1 aims to create “world’s first net zero-carbon hybrid internal combustion engine”

2019 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Formula 1 has promised to reduces its carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2030.

As part of its plan to achieve this, the series has promised to “eliminate the carbon footprint of the F1 car and the on-track activities”. It intends to do this partly through a radical development of its engine format to create a hybrid powertrain with “net zero” carbon emissions.

Formula 1 chairman and CEO said Chase Carey said the efficiency of F1’s current V6 hybrid turbo engines has already demonstrated what the sport is capable of.

“We believe F1 can continue to be a leader for the auto industry and work with the energy and automotive sector to deliver the world’s first net zero carbon hybrid internal combustion engine that hugely reduces carbon emissions around the world.”

No area of the sport will be untouched by its goal to slash carbon emissions.

With over 20 races per year, and a record 22 on the 2020 F1 calendar, a significant amount of the emissions generated by the sport comes from air travel. The championship says it will “move to ultra-efficient logistics and travel”, while the permanent facilities associated with the sport will be fully powered by renewable sources.

By 2025 the sport intends all its events to be made “sustainable”. Single-use plastics will be replaced with sustainable equivalents, and all waste will be re-used or recycled. Fans will be offered “a greener way to reach the race”.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

F1 has spent the last 12 months developing a plan to hit its target of nullifying its emissions by 2030. It has been done in consultation with the teams, race promoters and other partners, plus the FIA and experts in sustainability. The first steps towards hitting the goal with be taken “immediately”, it says.

Chase Carey, Circuit of the Americas, 2019
F1 will be “net zero carbon by 2030” – Carey
Carey said this is the first time the sport has had a “sustainability strategy”.

“By leveraging the immense talent, passion and drive for innovation held by all members of the F1 community, we hope to make a significant positive impact on the environment and communities in which we operate,” he said. “The actions we are putting in place from today will reduce our carbon footprint and ensure we are net zero carbon by 2030.”

FIA president Jean Todt said the proposal was “not only very encouraging for the future of motorsport, but it could also have strong benefits for society as a whole.”

“In 2014 we introduced the hybrid power unit in Formula 1, which was essential for the development of motorsport highest category,” he said. “It is the same reason that led us to maintain this philosophy within the framework of the Formula 1 regulations applicable from 2021.

“With the involvement of the teams, drivers, F1’s numerous stakeholders, and crucially the millions of fans around the world, the FIA and Formula 1 are committed to driving development and ensuring motorsport grows as a laboratory for environmentally beneficial innovations.”

How green can Formula 1 become? @DieterRencken reveals more about the sport’s plan to go zero-carbon in tomorrow’s RacingLines column

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2019 F1 season articles

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 112 comments on “F1 aims to create “world’s first net zero-carbon hybrid internal combustion engine””

    1. So far, so greenwashed PR. Loads of companies do this all the time.

      What is it, exactly, that they have done “immediately” besides paying someone a ton of money to write some nice words?
      Then I might be less cynical.

      1. you forgot the ban on plastic straws and cups at races @falken … ;-)

        Seriously, you’d think that if they were serious, they would have a look at optimizing the logistics of the calendar, right.
        Not having to fly from Europe to canada and then straight to Baku and back to europe, for example. Would also help team personell cope with getting through the season.

        Overall though, I am hopefull. If they put all their engineering ideas and drive to achieve the extreme into this – make it a competition for all the clever engineers – I am sure that F1 is well positioned to bring the world a whole boatload of clever ideas to improve on current ways of doing things

        1. Brazil is burning the Amazon on purpose. F1 will be there next week. A bunch of the most polluting companies in the world are huge advertisers in F1, like Petronas, for example. It’s nice to be hopeful, but it’s also important to remember that real results won’t come from organizations like F1. F1 isn’t the cause of climate change, but it’s certainly complicit. All for the sake of…


          1. There’s a NASA website called FIRMS, which, with the aid of their satellites, shows where all the big fires are around the world. While there are many fires in South America, the fires there aren’t unique. Looking at that website it seems to me there’s just as many fires in Africa, and, density wise, equal or more in Mozambique, parts of Asia, parts of Australia, the Middle East, etc.

            1. Next you’ll be defending white genocide.
              Miss me with that science denying bullcrap.
              You’re wrong AND scum.

            2. @drycrust I can absolutely guarantee you that the fires in Australia are not intentional. We are currently experiencing some of our most catastrophic bush-fires in our history throughout the state of NSW. In my home-state of SA at the start of this week, a large fire threatened a major town.

              A few years ago a catastrophic fire went through where I grew up, nearly destroying my parents home. A year later our Xmas lunch was interrupted as my brother-in-law noticed a fire coming towards the house—I personally spent the next 8 hours frantically fighting the fire with my dad in his farm ute.

              The very next day a fire started 20 kms away which we went off to help fight (as many helped us fight the day before).

              I’ve never seen such frequency of fires. They are bigger and more frequent. Something has got to change.

            3. @justrhysism My most humble apologies, it was never my intention to suggest the fires in Australia were intentionally light.
              And yes, I too wondered why the risk of fires and their ferociousness in Australia had increased so much in the last decade or so.

          2. Sure @nathanbuilder you are right about Brazil and burning forests, we see much the same in Indonesia and many many other places (for much the same reasons).

            Non the less, I WILL stay hopefull and optimistic, because when I look at the world when I was born, look at how it was when i went to school and university and then consider how it is now, i know that there are a lot less people suffering hunger and sickness.

            So while we have done an awful amount of bad to our world, I think we can find a way out of this too (and probably into the next challenge).

            Oh, and by now, I am not so sure it really is because of money. I think it is rather a combination of money, power, and “just because we can get away with it”

      2. Pretending to care is a step above openly not caring. Its a step in the right direction

    2. Just waiting for the first posting on “Sustainable Mustache Wax”.

      1. Something about Mary….

    3. I’m curious to know how much electricity is used by F1 teams in wind tunnel testing.

    4. For F1 it would be more simple and cheap to use cheaper materials and use way less restrictive durability, fuel flow and rev limiter rules. Drivetrain that lasts one race while powerful and sounds good already exists. It would avoid burning a lot of money for development for a small field.
      The necessary eco friendly technology will be developed into production cars anyway, there are a lot of computing power to do this without them.
      Although their long term survival is maybe quite related to transforming as mentioned in the article, because if they don’t do so they may become dinosaurs at some day. They are already not oldscool, they are already transitioning, so
      they cannot stop here. I think diffusers and new aero will help a lot.
      Why ground effect cars got banned in the pastand for such a long time? Are there some safety concers induced by too much ground effect?
      (for eg suddenly loosing the effect in some bad cases? or demands on suspension?)

      1. As I read dangerous cases for example:
        -it’s quite possible to loose some parts of the diffuser unnoticed, and drive relying on the high suction while not having it
        -and when the car bottoms out, the effect also reduces a lot for those moments
        The first case is maybe a bit less dangerous than it was decades before, because they can use more durable materials, while bottoming is dangerous by itself.
        Will the gound effect change the manners of kerbs’ usage?

        1. @jockey-ewing
          Ground effect cars were immune to aerodynamic effects of bottoming out. It plauged the flat floored cars when they were too low.
          GE cars’ problem was the loss of seal to the ground at the sidewalls, which won’t be a problem now because they won’t be allowed to be sealed to the ground by skirts or anything else.
          Losing a bit of aero is no different to present in my opinion. The drivers notice a crash or the sound/vibration of breakage. If not they might not even notice a missing wing, certainly not one that is only damaged (especially FW). They notice all the tiny aero elements that the cars have now even less.

        1. He was a specialist of this, considering the WEC one maybe even bigger.

    5. FIA mandates the use of fossil fuels in the cars, the amount of renewable fuel is restricted to a maximum of 2% from memory. Switching to ethanol would be an obvious first action but I doubt the oil companies would like that much.

      1. Love your username!

        1. Was previously Drop Valencia.

      2. Up to 20% bio/synthetic fuel, starting 2021.

      3. Ethanol is not ‘zero carbon’, and I doubt F1 will connect the exhaust to a greenhouse to absorb the remaining carbon.

        It is called ‘carbon neutral’ if cross are grown to produce the ethanol. But arguing like that I would call all fossil fuels ‘carbon neutral’ as they are also formed by growing trees and plants (albeit thousands of years ago).

        1. 650 million years in some cases… If it was thousands we could probably create oil and gas artificially…!! :)

      4. Ethanol is bad anyways because it needs to be sources from food. The amount of food you need to make a little bit of ethanol is astounding. You convert all those food production fields to fuel production, there wouldn’t be enough food to feed people. It will just never be efficient enough.

        1. there wouldn’t be enough food to feed people

          That would be another way to stop a man-made problem ;)

        2. The amount of food you need to make a little bit of ethanol is astounding.

          I came across a report that said “The grain required to fill a 25-gallon gas tank with ethanol can feed one person for a year…”. The report goes on to suggest that in 2014 5 billion bushels of the corn produced in the USA would end up in fuel tanks instead of being eaten.
          While researching this I found a website that said for every pound of ethanol produced there’s another 0.957 pounds of CO2 produced. “…stated another way, for every 1 gallon of ethanol produced, 6.33 pounds of carbon dioxide are formed”. So the conversion of crops into ethanol means almost 50% is wasted. Using the 25 gallons of ethanol mentioned above, the production of that also produced about 158 pounds of CO2.
          I’m sorry, but I wasn’t able to find out how much CO2 is produced while producing a gallon or litre of petrol.

          1. Surprisingly little is used to extract, depending on where and how it is extracted… Show as hell produces a lot when you burn it though!!!

      5. Synthetic fuels produces from CO2 and water, using renewable energy are already possible, though expensive and inefficient to synthesize.
        In a decade or so’s time, they will be a useful way to store excess power from renewables – energy which will be by then effectively at zero marginal cost.
        F1 might be an interesting place for the petro/chemicals companies to showcase the development of the technology.

        1. Yeah, I think those syntetic fuels are a good example of areas where F1 engineering acumen could play a solid role in making ways to get most out of it and re-engineering processes to actually make it work at reasonable prices Nigel

      6. Maybe use compressed and super-cooled hydrogen for a fuel?
        – it can be run in a combustion engine
        – it can be used in a fuel cell, if they really must
        – it is carbon free
        – it is non-toxic
        – it has 3 times the power-to-weight ratio of gasoline, so you’d need just 35 kg to mimic the current fuel usage
        – it is the anti-EV auto industries pipe dream.

        Most of all, it could work in a racing environment.
        By super-cooling the hydrogen the tank the pressure won’t get exceptionally high so the can be kept relatively light. Insulation does not need to be extreme, as the fuel would be completely gone within a few hours anyway.
        So if the tank and special apparatus can be kept lighter than 70 kilogram it would even weigh less than the current system at race start. If it is much lighter than that, the racing may even be better.

        1. Hydrogen as a fuel has roughly half the caloric value (from memory) as petrol, so you need double the liquid volume to cover a similar distance at a similar efficiency.

          Super-cooled hydrogen – what’s going to keep this at this temperature in a race car? If it’s just that the tank volume is restricted it’s going to get to an enormous pressure in there as it starts to rise to track temperature. In a crash where the fuel tank ruptures this is now a high pressure explosion as well as being explosively combustible.

          I just can’t see how this is a good fuel choice, I’d love it to be as the zero-carbon waste products are brilliant I just can’t see how it’s a good choice, especially for a race car.

          1. You’d have twice the volume, true. It may be a challenge to package that in a racing car. But thermal isolation is not a problem, nor pressure if the hydrogen is cold enough. As it gets used up the fluid hydrogen expands to a gas which lowers the temperature even further.
            Likewise, if it is cold enough the pressure is not that high. If the tank ruptures the effect of the physical explosion depends on the pressure, that’s why I mentioned super cooling – low pressure, no blast.
            Pure hydrogen does not explode chemically, only when mixed with air. It may burn, but gaseous hydrogen is extremely light and will disappear into the sky. It is not entirely risk free – but manageable.

            There’s a team of students and engineers that built several hydrogen fuel cell race cars by the way; IIRC they even raced with Le Mans class cars. Then, fuel cells and electric motors are more efficient than an internal combustion engine can be, but fuel cells need a lot of cooling and don’t have a good power to weight ratio. It does not breathe F1, so to say.

            I was looking for true carbon free fuels and hydrogen is that, even if it isn’t easy to make it work for F1.

            Another option would be ammonia.
            It can easily be pressurized into a liquid, burns with almost the caloric value of gasoline and has a reasonable volumetric density. But you wouldn’t like to spring a leak… spills are toxic and caustic.

            There are other carbon free gases and fluids that could be used as a fuel, but of course each of them has its own set of challenges. But who knows.

            1. Liquid ammonia would be a horrendous option and not something you would want anyone to be exposed to.

              So, I think if you managed to keep your liquid H2 fuel thermally isolated then it’ll stay liquid, however whenever we handle cryogenic fluids (usually nitrogen) in the lab or for transport it is never, ever done in a sealed container because of the risk of pressurisation if the temperature rises, with nitrogen it expands to nearly 700 times it’s liquid volume.

              Shamelessly stolen from wikipedia: “In an incident on January 12, 2006 at Texas A&M University, the pressure-relief devices of a tank of liquid nitrogen were malfunctioning and later sealed. As a result of the subsequent pressure buildup, the tank failed catastrophically. The force of the explosion was sufficient to propel the tank through the ceiling immediately above it, shatter a reinforced concrete beam immediately below it, and blow the walls of the laboratory 0.1–0.2 m off their foundations.”

              I think it’d be reasonably likely that at some point these systems on a race car could be expected to fail in some way, given that by necessity they’d be designed to be lightweight.

    6. If they can invent an ICE that sucks carbon dioxide and particulates out of the atmosphere, they could be on to a winner!

      1. Maybe that’s the secret Ferrari sauce…. maximum fuel flow combined with maximum airbox pollution injection….

      2. You mean trees?

        1. I hate to break it to you but just planting trees is not enough. It doesn’t help remove the CO2 from the outer atmosphere. Also think of all the carbon being released form all the forest fires happening in the world today, it’s not a completely safe form of storage. Yes, you can store carbon in trees and it will help but it’s a small part of what needs to be done.

      3. We already have the technology to produce hydrocarbons, e.g. ethanol, from CO2, so maybe after the ICE exhaust gases have been through the MGU-H they could pump it into a back converter and, using some of the MGU-K electricity, “bring back” the fuel just used, dump it back into the fuel tank.

        1. Nice idea but you need to put extra energy in to make the waste co2 back into a hydrocarbon.

    7. First aim to create a competitive product that isn’t dominated by a single team.

      Members of the doomsday climate change cult won’t be watching F1 anyway, so no need to appeal to their ilk.

      1. Members of the doomsday climate change cult won’t be watching F1 anyway, so no need to appeal to their ilk.

        You mean the scientific consensus? At this point, the only reason not to accept the reality of man-made climate change is ideology, which puts you firmly in the cult. Following such a pattern, do you believe the moon landings were fake and the Earth is flat?

        1. There is no scientific consensus there, dont fool yourself. Numbers and predictions change constantly because nobody can calculate exactly how much of it is “man made” and how much is natural.

          1. Jon, Basil.
            I have seen figures stating that 97% of climate scientists believe that climate change is manmade. I note that the scientists that are arguing against are not climate scientist or are not scientists at all.
            Seems a bit like the tobacco industry strategy of the 80s and 90s, just get any hack with a uni degree to wright a unresearched paper and then get some slick advertising companies to sell it. Before that it was James Hardie with asbestos.
            Climate science has been around for a long time the effects of humans is probably real.
            Anything F1 can do to reduse their carbon footprint is good. Anything thing F1 can do to stay as the premium Motor Sport is good.
            But as always it will come back to what the car manufactures want to do in regard to the ICE.

            1. One of the basic things they teach you in any research study is that correlation =/= causation and our temperature records go back a relatively short time.

              With such a small time horizon, there isn’t enough of a sample size in terms of length to determine whether Its man made.

            2. One of the basic things they teach you in any research study is that correlation =/= causation and our temperature records go back a relatively short time.

              True enough.

              However, this illustrates it quite well:

              There has been an unprecedented (as far as we can tell from historical temperature data gathered from various indirect sources) increase in global average temperatures recently. While we cannot be absolutely certain that all of it (or any of it) is man made, it’s a fairly logical conclusion based on available data.

              Over the time the rises have been happening, there has been a massive increase in our emissions of CO2. CO2 has proven “greenhouse” properties (this is just a simplistic starting point). Therefore it’s not just correlation, but correlation with a very plausible theory backed by known facts.

              It would be difficult to believe that we had pumped massive amounts of a known and proven greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and it had no effect. It would also be difficult to believe that a significantly abnormal change to climate was occurring during this time and yet was all caused by natural phenomena (which we couldn’t pinpoint or even speculate about).

              In short, the reasonable conclusion to all the available evidence is that man is causing large changes to the planet’s climate. We don’t know for certain what the long term effects of this will be, of course, but when enough smart people tell you it’ll probably be bad, it may be time to do something about it…

            3. @johnrkh Once upon a time everyone thought bacteria could never live in the acidic environment of the stomach, it’s only relatively recently that ulcers have been tracked to Helicobacter pylori. Those suggesting bacteria was the cause were subjected to horrendous ad hominem attacks by the establishment.

              Charles Darwin was similarly attacked by the religious orders for his theories.

              Svante Arrhenius postulated the global warming theory back in the late 19th century, he also speculated that it would good for life on earth. So it has proved, nothing bad has happened, and a lot of good largely as a result of improved crop yields and fossil fuels lifting many cultures from backbreaking poverty and disease.

              Those who promote the catastrophic version of global warming have an altogether different agenda to pursue. The science of CO2 is most definitely not settled, indeed true science tests theories and tries to falsify them, in that way confidence is gained. The global warming proponents aim to shut down debate and it is they who are anti-science. They realise the CO2 ‘earth thermostat’ theory has already been proven wrong by the failure of all the doom and predictions over the years, all generated by failed computer model projections.

            4. @frasier Yeah, but if a Swedish teenager says global warming is wrong it can only be true, can’t it? :)
              Anyway, I fully agree that there’s a remarkable lack of scientificness.
              Also, instead of brain-dead conservationism, we should engineer the planet to be the most pleasant, and less harsh. Melt the polar ice sheets by creating longitudinal ocean circulation. Which would the wast majority of land usable instead of ice in the north/south and deserts in the warmest areas. We’d get a fully green planet with populated antarctica and the northern-most parts of Eurasia and America.

            5. Magnus Rubensson (@)
              12th November 2019, 17:43

              May I recommend that the good readers of this forum search the web for “1953 floods UK” and “1926 Miami hurricane”. You will then see a few examples of extreme weather from (1) half a century ago and (2) almost a century ago. Were they also man made?

              How could the 1926 Miami hurricane have happened? Did people fly too much back then?
              Charles Lindbergh had not yet crossed the Atlantic.

          2. Science does not work on consensus it works on facts and recordable and observable data not cherry picked manipulated data that the fake narrative pushing AGW continually ram down our throats. Its not about climate, never has been its about stealing your money and gaining complete dominion over every area of your life, whilst de-industrialising the west and moving the mega corporations to 3rd world countries.

        2. @anthony
          There’s nothing scientific about climatology. Every single one of their predictions were wrong.
          It’s a political consensus, by pseudo-scientists as well as politicians.

          Not only the proof is lacking for any man-made effects for global warming, but also whether warming is bad in the first place.
          There’s a theory that humans caused the initial warming that ended the glacial period by hunting the megafauna such as mammoths to extinction, which subsequently caused the tundras to be replaced by taiga.
          So we should freeze back the planet and cover much of the area with ice where most humans live, right? A few billion people don’t matter because that is how the planet is supposed to be without human interference…

          1. First it was cigarettes and asbestos that weren’t bad for you (honest), and now it is climate change.

      2. OK Boomer!

        1. W (@vishnusxdx)
          12th November 2019, 8:57

          Best reply to this drivel!

        2. Brilliant!

    8. So less waste eh? Let’s get rid of Yas Marina and all the yachts in Monaco then!

    9. So they know combusting hydrocarbons creates water and CO2, right? I guess the hydrogen engines will be pretty cool.

      Refueling is definitely out.

      1. Vee from ze Deutsche Zeppelin vant to know vatz so funny about ze hydrogenrefueling

      2. Hydrogen engines that are not electricity based emit nitrogen emissions. So no.

        1. @yaru

          Hydrogen engines that are not electricity based emit nitrogen emissions

          That why we have R&D.

          With such a small time horizon, there isn’t enough of a sample size in terms of length to determine whether Its man made.

          We have over 1,000 yrs direct and millenniums of research information from ocean, ice and land samples telling us what the earths atmosphere was like hundreds of thousands and millions of yrs ago. I think the scientists are starting to get the picture :)

          1. Watch this video before stating opinions.
            It suggests that increased carbon dioxide emissions started some 8,000 years ago with the rise of farming.
            The geological records also suggest that the Earth has had periods where the global climate was such that there was nowhere on Earth with permanent snow.
            Global climate changes all the time and will continue to do so, whether or not there are any humans present.

            1. @ceevee, the video confirms what @johnrkh is stating; we know what the “earths atmosphere was like hundreds of thousands and millions of yrs ago.”
              He also confirms that:
              – Current climate change is caused by humans; and,
              – climate change is a serious problem for his (grand)children.