F1 engine development 'must be road-relevant' says FIA

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB19. 28.11.2023. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images
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Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, says that the future direction of engine and power unit development in the sport must keep it relevant to manufacturers working on road cars.

New engine rules and specifications will come into effect in 2026 and will feature an increased reliance on battery power, aiming for a rough 50-50 split between electrical sources and internal combustion engines.

That is in line with a shift in road cars around the world, with many countries looking at enforcing a ban on sales of new cars using traditional petrol-driven engines, and demanding a change to all-electric vehicles.

Car makers will only invest in F1 if it contributes to their commercial business which means that F1 must follow the same direction, regardless of the existence of Formula E which has the exclusive remit for all-electric racing.

F1 could instead focus on developing hydrogen power as well as battery technology. All options are in play beyond 2026, as the FIA’s head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis at the end of last year.

“The step for 2026 is defined, but what we do in the next step afterwards is still up for discussion,” Tombazis told selected media in a recent briefing.

“There are a lot of options still on the table," he continued. "Whether it is more sustainable efuels, whether it is hydrogen in which we have quite a lot of work happening in the FIA, or whether it is more electrical.

“But we always want to remain relevant to what the OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers] that are participating want to do. We cannot go in a completely random direction that is not related to the road car.

“We need to remain road-relevant," he added. "That is the key objective, and I think anyone who walks around the paddock can see there is a huge amount of challenge to tackle.

FIA Head of Single-Seater Technical Matters, Nicholas Tombazis.

F1 has already set a target to be net zero by 2023, but emissions from the cars themselves are only a small part of the sport's impact on the environment.

“The element of the cars themselves, as a proportion of the overall carbon footprint, is very low,” Tombazis pointed out. “I think it is less than two per cent overall.

“It's obvious that our overall responsibility for the sport needs to tackle also the other 98 per cent - and that has to be covered with logistics, materials, numbers of components, calendars, a lot of things.

“But the car side is important from a technological point of view, in relation to the OEMs that are participating being able to work on technologies," he argued.

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