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Formula 1, Carmakers Strike Deal, Agree on Committment to Energy-Efficient Technology

Formula 1’s carmakers and the FIA (the organization that governs world Formula One racing) have come to an agreement on a new framework that will govern the sport until 2012. FIA president Max Mosley and Burkhard Göschel, chairman of the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association, also reaffirmed F1’s commitment to developing energy-efficient technology as part of an effort designed to make F1 more relevant to the road car industry and more environmentally responsible. (Earlier post.)

Mosley and Göschel pronounced the deal a major breakthrough, and a fundamental change in the way that the rules are managed.

Max Mosley has spoken before of his desire to see F1 at the cutting edge of green technology, suggesting that in future engine power should be limited by energy consumption rather than capacity. In June, Max Mosley described in a press conference the organization’s intention to head toward hybrid technology for future years. (Earlier post.)

Mosley and Goeschel emphasized that the commitment to energy efficiency will be a core part of the new agreement.

We want to make the research work done in F1 not just cost-effective but also road relevant. That is to say, new developments in F1 should be those that are directly helpful to the car industry and in particular things which are relevant to perhaps the biggest single issue which confronts the car industry worldwide, namely the reduction of the output of CO2. That’s why in the shorter term we are looking at energy-recovery and re-use from braking. That will come in 2009. We will come out with a regulation before the end of this year. And then recovery and re-use of the excess heat or waste heat from the engines. We intend to have a regulation for that before 2010. Both those things are currently fundamental to road car research.

In the longer term we are looking at the possibility of a completely new F1 engine reflecting the industry tendency which is to have a downsized, turbo-charged engine. At the moment that is still a discussion point between us and the manufacturers. That very briefly is where we stand at the moment.

—Max Mosley

Our understanding as a manufacturer is that F1 is the pinnacle of technology. If F1 for us as manufacturers is to make sense we have to show into which area technology should go to solve the problems of the future but also to have the fun of Formula One racing. Without question we will have that.

Max also said we are starting with energy recovery in 2009. And as everyone already knows the engines are losing two-thirds of the energy by heat and one of the ideas is how do we bring that back. The first step is that bringing the energy back into the car is one of the most important recoveries, the second step is to do this without losing the energy of the first step. So not only the engine but also the drive train must be made very efficient. That is the outlook for the future.

What we are doing in the car industry, and you can see this at BMW, is that we are shifting over to turbo-charged engines with a high-point of efficiency. In the future we will have down-sized engines with turbo-chargers.

We have to look at all areas for reducing consumption but also keeping the dynamics of F1. It might sound like a contradiction but it is not. The targets of modern engineers is not just to say you can only recognize this area or that area but a modern engine has to cover both and if something seems to be not possible he has to find a solution to ensure that F1 is still dynamic, interesting, and emotional but it is following the modern ideas of technology.

—Professor Burkhard Göschel

(A hat-tip to Chris Ellis!)



Bud Johns

This makes perfect sense. Formula 1 is the epitome of technology, what they come up with trickles down to passenger cars. Big manufacturers like Toyota and Honda are there. Baically, have all the power you want, this is how much fuel you have for a race! Hopefully, there will eventually be emissions limits too. And I don't think it will make racing boring, ala Can Am in Mid Seventies. I think the time is right.......


I would limit the amount of fuel / race to 20% less than the average used this year, starting in 2008.
Then drop it by 5% per year for a couple of years after that, reviewing the situation in case the racing got too dull.
The 20 and 5% numbers are indicitive - people in the know could set real targets.
They might be much higher.
Does anyone have a "mpg" value to a typical F1 car in a race ?


About 4mpg

Rafael Seidl

Note that racing engines are actually already among the most efficient, measured in BTU/kWh. The only way F1 could make a serious dent in fuel consumption would be to liberalize the rules on aerodynamics - currently, the cw-value is around 0.6, compared to less than 0.3 for production passenger cars. For example, the rules require that the front wheel suspension be monoposto, i.e. no cowlings. Of course, this visual cue differentiates F1 from other racing leagues, e.g. the Le Mans circuit.

Fiddling with the drivetrain using e.g. pneumatic recuperative braking, will achieve precious little as long as the cw-value remains sky-high and maximum speeds well in excess of 300kph. The theoretical lower bound (for a droplet shape) is about 0.15.

Limiting the energy consumption is tricky because in F1, fuel composition is one of the very few parameters still shrouded in secrecy. Unless the change that rule (instantly eliminating the participation of the oil & gas majors), they's have to actually measure the energy density of each team's fuel prior to each qualifying or race and then ensure they don't tamper with it during the event.

Limiting top speed for the sake of driver safety and reduced fuel consumption would be easier to enforce (radar guns), but it goes against the grain in racing. F1 is boring enough as it is, passing maneuvers are quite rare. Aerodynamic downforce minimizes the amount by which drivers have to slow down in turns.

Mark A

F1 will be the most relevant form of racing in the near future. Hybrids, along with regenerative brake energy recovery used in racing with perhaps ultracap storage, can apply in the real world. I will be following F1 more closely.

Perhaps in the future F1 will be powered by electric motors powered by fuel cells, which convert onboard water into the necessary elements to run it. All inside the bodywork of the current open wheel F1. Nothing like racing (or, unfortunately...war) to advance technologies that otherwise would have no chance being developed.

My hope is that the American open wheel racing series, or "gulp" nascar, step up to the plate and have the guts to also develop these systems to apply to racing and, everyday transportation. Then they will win me back as a fan. Until then, F1 has my interest, and any available extra spending money I have.


Apart from ecological improvements in F1 cars, it would be very nice if the FIA is more equitable with all the teams. To many followers of F1, it was evident that the FIA tried to help the Ferrari Team by banning the mass damping system and by punishing Fernando Alonso.


I can see how a hydraulic braking energy recovery system can be made within the weight requirements for an F1 car, but how on earth will they manage the heat recovery systems?

What are they going to use, organic rankine cycle? I would LOVE to see the solutions they find to cracking this one within the mass and packaging requirements of F1.


Raser did an EV race car. If these were hybrid it would advance the state of the art and make auto racing more of a contribution, rather than just entertainment.

fyi CO2

Certainly an oxymoron, racing and conservation.
This is greenwashing to substantiate their boring existence. Let's see how fast we can get to more climate change.
Trickle down theory? We already have transportation from point A to point B and vehicles capable of doing over 2x speed limit and 1/2 million fatalities per anuum.
There might be some other more noble causes worth considering today...


I can see how a hydraulic braking energy recovery system can be made within the weight requirements for an F1 car, but how on earth will they manage the heat recovery systems?

You can start with a turbocharger and reduction in engine size. It was either Williams or McLaren who experimented with energy recovery (we'd call it a hybrid) back in the 90's -- the FIA banned it before they'd gotten very far. Too bad -- the state of the art might have been well advanced by now.

Racing and conservation don't have much overlap but it's not a complete oxymoron: think of what F1-driven engine mapping did for efficiency.

And Jorge, were you complaining when F1 kept changing the rules to break Ferrari's stranglehold on F1? Renault ultimately benefited.


DT, I think the rules should not be changed in the middle of a season, unless there is a safety issue.
Renault´s performance was very good using the mass damper.
I like Schumacher and he is a better driver than Alonso but, Schummi made more mistakes during the 2006 season than Alonso did.
I suppose next season Raikkonen will win the driver´s championship.

John W.

fyi C02, I'm sort of suprised to hear what you said. I don't consider this pursuit an oxymoron at all, I consider it accelerated 'testing.' Automakers worth their salt will adequately test their vehicles for the road; this accelerates and improves upon everything. There is a 100% overlap possible here between the F1 and regular automotive vehicles in terms of possible technological applications.

One of the reasons why Honda's road vehicles are so well engineered and fuel efficient is b/c their F1 engineers (and superbike engineers) are cycled to develop cars like...civics. There are other auto makers (no names given) who have never had the benefits of engineering F1 vehicles, and it shows. This can only accelerate green technological advances, which no one here hopefully, would put down. It's easy to be a cynic, but not helpful. This development is not only not an oxymoron; it's eminently reasonable.

I'm all for this. If F1 does this, I can't wait to see Honda's or any other participants "regular" hybrid or electric road vehicles in 10 years.


Sorry guys this is F1 racing! Forget your Prius, Bio, Hybrid, Green. This is Testtosterone. It isn't meant to be Kermit singing 'it's easy being green'. It's Racing! Now burn the fuel and go like stink. It's the thousands cars going to the event that cause the majority of the pollution not a few dozen F1's. I'm a proud treehugger but this is silly.


fyi CO2,

Are you talking about worldwide fatality numbers? US highway/road deaths are a little over 42,000 (~4000 from motorcycles and ~4200 from pedestrians).

fyi CO2

John W., what green technological advances has F1 racing exhibited so far? F1 is a bad excuse for sustainable mobility.

And of course, there are the thousands of cars that clamor to these emissions events. Maybe they could just stay home- watch more reality TV (or hug a tree).

Don't car co.s still do autom. testing on dynos & proving grounds too?

Patrick, yes, my half mill figure quoted is the worldwide fatality figure.

fyi CO2

"burn the fuel and go like stink?" If that's a treehugger statement, then Exxon just planted a redwood forest for your picnic.

John W.

Hello fyi C02: I never actually said, implied or argued that F1 has exibited green techno advances in its history. That said, that doesn't mean I'm saying they havn't either, I just don't know here because I never followed F1 that closely. Vtec does comes to mind though... You could be very accurate for all I know when you say it has a bad history on this score.

However, the main burden of my point was that in the development of more efficient engines and heat recuperative technology, automotive tech as applied to cars all over the world, in general, (should) be greatly enriched. That is the greatest news in this development. Even if we assume F1 has a horrible track record (no pun intended) on environmental issues, that doesn't mean we should therefore discount this development as hogwash. It is a very good turn for the better, with fantastic implications, therefore it should be applauded.

And on a subjective and personal note, I think it would actually add a factor and new element of excitement to the current racing setup. Sort of like a regular chess board morphing into a multi-leveled 3D version...wouldn't that make things interesting. Thanks for your reply fyi.


I was interested in the fatality numbers and was surprised to see over 1 million fatalities worldwide in the late 90s.

It seemed (in 96), while there were twice as many accidents in the US versus Europe there were 3 times the number of fatalities (probably due somewhat to a much larger number of pedestrian fatalities). Even if you consider all of North America (Mexico, US, and Canada) Europe still had twice the number of fatalities with less than half the number of accidents.

Harvey D.

Virtual race cars, with human drivers-players in control, transmitted in 1080p, could replace the real extremely noisy F-1 buggies.

It would be as joyful to watch on a large 60-in. + screen and 700+ watts 7 channel speakers. It copuld be replayed over and over again to please everybody's schedule.

For the unconditionnals, existing F-1 race tracks could be converted for F-E-1 (electric) racers only.


With all that cash floating around, F-1 teams could fund things like camless engines w/solenoid valves (20% vs conventionals, ~11% vs near future VVTs).
__As for aerodynamic drag, perhaps they can take a page from Porsche, sproilers (and wings) that have variable profiles for variable downforce levels. For example, on a long flat straight, they would take a minimal profile to increase acceleration and speed. Just before the driver stomps on the brakes at the end of the straight, the sproilers pop up to create downforce, and act as mini airbrakes. The car's computer would be programed to take various profiles at different speeds, turning G's, etc. A lighweight failsafe backup (dragchute?) would be added to ensure the safety of drivers, and spectators.

fyi CO2

Agreed, Harvey, and you wouldn't have to inhale the VOCs either!
Patrick, is it the increased # of solo drivers in the US vs. EU, or just the rate of travel that skews those figures? - that's severe.


allen Z: movable aerodynamic devices have been banned for decades for safety reasons (this was the strange justification for the mass damper thing Jorge went on about). Things break at the bleeding edge. That wouldn't be particularly relevant for passenger cars anyway, since in road racing downforce beats top speed everytime.

Given the amount of money spent to gain even a small edge in a tight time frame (the next race), I think this is a good development. Certainly better than NASCAR, where they still use carburetors and are actually about to go to (gasp) unleaded gas.


is there currently any significant racing convention that is electric-based? I love your idea for F1 electrics with on-demand FC <-- H2O. That would be an incredibly fun challenge!

Some of the developments in racing, like those from the aerospace industry need better tech transfer to consumer sectors. If F1 built astonishingly cool vehicles with the transfer in mind at rule-time, the entire cycle would be significant.

Human interest in racing stems as much from the anticipation of catastrophe as "go like stink" and big noise combined. It's a kind of character defect...


This strikes me as pretty foolish since Mosley & Bernie Eccelestone have in the past been saying the cost of F1 racing needs to lowered drastically and certainly not increased...As for F1 having any sort of technical relevance to production autos you have to kidding yourself.


This strikes me as pretty foolish since Mosley & Bernie Eccelestone have in the past been saying the cost of F1 racing needs to lowered drastically and not for F1 having any sort of technical relevance to production autos you have to be kidding yourself.

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