F1 Team Principals discuss green issues Formula One teams agree that the sport must respond in a responsible way to the environmental challenges we face. Here, the leading figures in three major Formula One teams express their thoughts on eco-technology, environmental initiatives and the sport’s green future.
Ross Brawn, Team Principal, Honda Racing F1
“The pressure on the modern world to address the causes of climate change is continually increasing and Formula One is not exempt from this. The FIA and the teams recognise that it is our responsibility to be involved in change for the good and to accelerate these changes through the technology and competition of F1. At Honda, we strongly support the engineering challenge that the introduction of environmental technologies such as KERS provides. Honda has been developing more efficient and lower emission products for decades and the application of fuel efficient and alternative fuel technologies has been intrinsic to our automotive product development.
The involvement of F1 in research into engines, electronics and the forthcoming regenerative braking systems will drive such developments forward and speed up the introduction of environmental technologies which will filter back to mass production passenger cars and be of great benefit to the environment and consumers.The great thing about competitive motorsport is that it accelerates development and with the F1 field currently working on KERS, the rate of progress in that technology is greatly increased.
F1 should certainly be looking to introduce further environmentally-focused regulations in future. To develop hybrid and heat recovery technologies which can then be used on road cars demonstrates that F1 can play an important role in developing energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies. Since the launch of our earthdreams initiative at the beginning of the 2007 season, we have had fantastic support from within the Honda family and from our team partners.
With more and more organisations understanding the importance of the environmental agenda, we are finding many of our current partners are benefiting from this initiative and using the message it portrays to showcase their own environmental working practices. Our earthdreams initiative is at the core of our team culture and it is important that we strive to do our best to minimise our impact on the environment in the course of our business. We are showing that running a business that is as highly pressured as F1 and doing the right thing can be entirely complementary.”
Adam Parr, CEO, WilliamsF1
“Environmental technology is important in F1 for two reasons. Firstly, for the sustainability of the sport and secondly for our contribution to society. As an independent team our ability to raise revenues to go racing is subject to our partners’ thinking on sustainability. We also have to bring in the types of partner we would like to sponsor our team. They are typically blue chip corporates who are, without exception, conscious of the need to be sustainable and to address sustainability in the way they do business.
For instance, RBS is doing a lot of work on developing financial products which can fund renewable energy projects. Even if their involvement in F1 is primarily about performance and not sustainability, they would not market themselves in a sport such as F1 unless the message was consistent with their own. More broadly, the sport needs to be seen as part of the solution to climate change and not part of the problem.
Our greenhouse gas emissions are insignificant. But in terms of perception the sport is associated with automobile manufacturers, fuel companies, private jets and so on. We have to appeal to a younger audience that is concerned about environmental issues. If we are to continue to flourish as a sport, grow our audience, attract sponsors and participants, then I think we have to do something about it.
What the FIA has identified is that Formula One can be a very powerful incubator for new technologies. We are all developing things which are cutting edge. As a team, we have identified three areas where we think we can make a contribution to society. They are education, road safety and energy efficient technology. KERS is the first stepping stone on that path.
The philosophy that the FIA has taken to fuel is that the fuel we put in our cars should be the same as the fuel we put in road cars. Therefore the development of those fuels on the track is relevant to our roads. I think that is a good philosophy. A very interesting area for the future is a complete rethink of the engine. We would like to see some radical thinking about the next generation F1 powertrain. We would like to see it incorporating not just energy efficiency but also much lower costs for reproduction, which is a sustainability issue in its own right.”
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
Devices such as KERS are important in motor sport. BMW is in Formula One not just for marketing reasons but also because the F1 programme can create technology synergies and innovations which can be carried over to road car development. If you look at what is required by future road cars, fuel economy / CO2 reduction is the top objective right now and for the foreseeable future. So it is clear that if we can do something in this area in F1 we will really benefit from it.
We see a big chance in KERS because in F1 we have an unrivalled development speed. We are pushing the envelope on a weekly basis and we can explore unknown territory in a much quicker and more efficient way than a complex road car project. We are very sure that KERS will contribute in a big way to future powertrain concepts for road cars. KERS, in its current form, is not something which goes beyond the capacity of current hybrid vehicles but the individual components will have a performance that is much improved compared to current road car solutions. In terms of the power-to-weight ratio or power-to-volume ratio, these components are already four to five times better than their road car equivalents. That is the real progress.
Once these components have been proven successful in F1, we can use them and develop them for future road cars. Already, our road car colleagues are knocking on our doors because they can see with KERS we are making progress in all areas. KERS only makes sense in F1 if we shrink it and reduce its weight way beyond what is currently available. And this is what makes it so interesting for the road car project. In principle we hope KERS is just the start of a number of new efficient technologies in the sport. But we have to be careful not to do things which do not make sense. It has to pay off on the road car side as well. It needs to be efficient in terms of environmental impact and also the effort it takes.
But I think we are on the right track. In the future my expectation is that the powertrain will change from what we have today with the combustion engine and the gearbox to a complex unit incorporating a smaller combustion engine, an electric motor generator, an electric storage unit, control electronics and probably a very different type of transmission. The true innovation will lie in the adaptation of these individual components and the integration into a more efficient powertrain. I think F1 can take the lead in that.”
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