Formula 1 | Synthetic fuels: F2 will be F1’s laboratory

Formula 2 and Formula 3 recently announced the use of sustainable fuels from next year in partnership with Aramco. In fact, the Saudi Oil Company will use the promotional formulas as a giant laboratory for the arrival of synthetic fuels in Formula 1 in 2026, bringing new biofuel products little by little.

“It is our intention to get a fuel booster to use the current engine for 2023 and to complete the same formula for 2024.” explained Pierre Calendini, director of fuel research at Aramco.

So our next step will be in 2025 and 2026 to start including synthetic components and then pave the way to Formula 1 for 2026 with fully sustainable fuels, and to come up with fully sustainable fuels in 2027 for F2 and F3. «

“The biofuel strategy is a way to get what we call sustainable ingredients. The fuel is a mixture of different molecules and we can very quickly start using bio-based ingredients that are very close to what we are going to produce. In 2024 and then use them to develop from there.”

Then we introduce and increase the amount of particles generated by the synthetic process. Synthetic fuels are a great programme. We are currently investing in two production pilot sites, one in Saudi Arabia and one in Spain. »

“This would bring in 2024 one of the largest experimental productions of synthetic fuels. And then we will use our molecules to make the fuels for F2 and F3 and also to think about Formula 1 for the fuels 2025, 2026 and 2027.”

F2 Technical Director Didier Perrin confirms these ambitions: “We have great ambition with Aramco, F2 and F3. We want to be sustainable with synthetic fuels and for CO2 capture in 2027 to be more ambitious than just sustainable. »

“Based on this goal, we are developing a roadmap in several phases, the first of which will be in 2023 to start with sustainable fuels. But the development will continue until we reach the really ambitious goal of being robust and fully manufactured in 2027.”

Similar engines with different fuel

Mecachrome currently supplies F2 engines, and they are often criticized for their reliability. It is not planned to change the engine, but simply to adapt the existing blocks to new fuels.

“In terms of the engine, right now and in 2023, 2024, to get the fuel in those engines, we won’t have to make any hardware changes. Maybe from 2025 and definitely from 2027. We may have to make some hardware adjustments, on Example by injection or something like that. »

“But right now, in 2023 and 2024, new fuels are being introduced with the exact same engine, just different maps, and that’s nice. Basically, we don’t intend to make any changes to the cars for next year. This is the beauty of this project, we are developing the engine with new fuel for 2023. »

“The engines are currently in the test bed, and so far we haven’t needed to make any hardware changes to the engine, just adapt the maps to the new fuel. So that’s really good for the teams, it’s really good for us. Everything is working fine so far with the current engines. »

By doing so, it is expected that the reliability of F2, which has already been questioned on several occasions, will not change: “Obviously something we keep in mind in partnering with Aramco, who have already participated in a few championships with sustainable fuels. We got certain information and we take it into account when developing the engine to make the face of this sustainable future.”

“So yes, with Aramco, we learn from past experiences and take that into the current development. But we are convinced that from the point of view of reliability, to be completely transparent, we expect exactly the same level of performance and reliability. »

Bruno Michel wants to be reassured about reliability

F2 is already testing these fuels and their effects on existing single-seater engines designed by Dallara. F2 and F3 director Bruno Michel is by no means concerned about the change.

“We are doing all the necessary testing for all the selection and pre-selection of the fuel we will be using next year and I can tell you for sure that the fuel will not be a reliability issue at all.” Director reassures. “For everything, including the engine, we are one design class. »

“Everyone is racing in the same gear. And at some point you might be unlucky, let’s put it this way. At some point you could encounter technical issues that have nothing to do with the engine or not with the fuel. »

“But as I said, we will do whatever it takes in terms of testing because, as you can imagine, before we introduce any fuel, we start a very intense development program.

“Now the engines and fuel we will be using next year are in the test bed for hours and hours before we put them on track, in our car we developed, and before we give it to everyone. »

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