Lowe open to making F1 return with fossil-free fuels

Paddy Lowe (GBR) Williams Racing Chief Technical Officer. 28.02.2019. Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain
© XPB 

Paddy Lowe says he's open to making a return to Formula 1 in the future, but that it would be in a very different capacity to his former team-related positions.

Before his departure, Lowe was previously chief technical officer at Williams having also been technical executive director at Mercedes, and technical birector at McLaren during a career in F1 spanning 30 years.

Lowe has since gone on to found to found Zero Petroleum, a company dedicated to developing and manufacturing whole-blend synthetic, non-biological petrol, diesel and jet fuel in a completely fossil-free process.

The company claimed a Guinness World Record last November for fuelling the first aircraft powered by synthetic fuel, in partnership with the Royal Air Force for their successful flight from RAF Kemble.

Im an exclusive interview with Planet F1 this week, Lowe said that he was even busier than he'd been in the notoriously high-pressure world of F1.

Paddy Lowe (GBR) Williams Chief Technical Officer looks at Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF71H on the grid. 01.07.2018. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Austrian Grand Prix, Spielberg, Austria, Race

“Anybody familiar with opening a new venture will know that there’s really no break at any point," he explained. "It is fairly endless and without the benefit of a ceasefire as was negotiated in F1 for August.”

“We don’t have a summer break in the ‘real world’," he pointed out. "Whereas Formula 1 is sort of relentless development and quite an intense race programme, you do actually have some weekends off."

Formula 1 and other motor racing series are moving toward net zero targets which includes moving to sustainable fuel, and it's in this capacity that Lowe feels his company's future and that of F1 may converge.

“Motorsport is a very interesting sector for us, but by no means the only area of interest and in reality," Lowe said. "It’s a very small market.

"It’s a very niche area of fuel consumption, very interesting to me personally because of my background, but not our main area of focus for development at scale.

Pit atmosphere - Shell fuel for Ferrari. 11.03.2020. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia

"It will definitely be on our radar as we develop the company and develop our production," he acknowledged. “Some very interesting and exciting markets there in motorsport, and in relation to any high-end automotive - and classic cars.

“People love all the old cars. Nobody wants to stop running them. And they don’t need to, because we’ve got a completely fossil-free solution here.

“That will be built around all the other applications it’s needed for as well, so classic cars and all other types of legacy vehicles can take advantage of that.”

Lowe told Planet F1 that he would be looking to have talks with F1 in particular about its move to sustainable fuel in 2026.

“We’re definitely interested to be in the mix there,” he said. “It’s not completely clear what’s wanted by F1 as it seems to chop and change a bit.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL36 makes a pit stop. 20.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race

"But as the requirements really firm up it will be definitely something we would consider and be interested in discussing.”

Lowe said that the challenge was how to replace materials made from fossil petroleum with more sustainable ones.

“Petroleum is a really, really useful set of chemicals and that’s really the core of the fossil petroleum. It’s the core of our climate problem, and the petroleum is being vilified within that mix.

"The task here is not to stop doing stuff or to say it’s all wrong, the task is actually to invent the ways of doing it properly, and doing it sustainably.

"F1 has to play a part in that process. It’s just a fantastic platform for achieving things and a kind of showpiece of it, and I’d like to see F1 being a showpiece around that story.”

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