President Sets Out Green Agenda for F1
FIA President Max Mosley.
  FIA President Max Mosley explains why the time is right for Formula One to embrace its energy-efficient future and welcome more manufacturers into the sport, in an interview in this week’s Autosport magazine.

How important are green issues to Formula One and motorsport?
Well, rather than talking about green technology, we should be talking about modern technology. That’s fundamental to all our thinking on this issue. You can’t have a full-on green formula where you say, for example: “Here’s 50 litres of petrol and you have to do 180 miles with it. Go and do the best you can.” That wouldn’t be the sort of racing people want to see. Focusing on engines, at the moment you are allowed 2.4 litres, and the more power you get out of that the better off you are.

There’s an enormous amount of money being spent trying to get more and more power. It can be done in many ways, but by far the fastest way is to increase the revs. In terms of anything to do with the big wide world, that’s completely pointless. Whereas if you had a formula in which the more power you could get from a given quantity of fuel, the better off you would be – or, put another way, you limit the power of the cars by fuel, or by energy, rather than by capacity – that would be rational, because that’s what all manufacturers are trying to do with their road cars.

We’re talking about fuel flow at the moment, but there are some very clever people out there working on fascinating things to do with heat recovery, using exhaust gases, etc, so we reckon it’s up to them. At a rough schedule I would, say, introduce this in 2011, having stopped development on the existing engines. That gives us plenty of time.

What would be the cost implications of energy-efficient technology?
If the money spent in F1 is spent on basic research that’s relevant it’s less likely to be a problem. At the moment there are six manufacturers in F1 and the ones that are finishing sixth best are going to need a good reason to stay in. Developing energy-efficient technology helps justify their involvement.

If you went to any of the people outside the motor industry and offered them even a fraction of the money that’s currently spent on F1 engine development, they would be able to up their rate of progress enormously. At the moment they are working in the hundreds-of-thousands- of-Euros-type budget, rather than the millions.

With bigger budgets we could get the most spectacular leaps. And if we do, in the amount of energy that can be stored in a 20kg device and recovered, even if it’s from only 10 per cent of what they are spending on engines, it would be massively worthwhile. It would come into road cars and have a huge effect.

What would be the focus of the technological development?
At the moment hybrid technology is relatively primitive. Most energy is lost to heat, and they can’t charge the battery quickly. The problem with current hybrids is that the batteries are very heavy, they take up a lot of room and they can only store energy at a very limited rate. In a conventional car, when you lift off you are still driving the engine and all the energy is going in heat.

Hybrids disconnect the engine and charge the battery, but still an enormous amount of energy is wasted. Even so, a hybrid road car like a Toyota Prius does 60mpg. It’s nothing special on the open road, because it has to schlep around batteries and extra weight. That’s where F1 comes in, because it will help drive development of making something very efficient and very light. The more energy you can store, the greater the advantage for the teams that work out how to do it best. And of course, that’s exactly what you want for a road car.

Avoiding wasting energy is fundamental to all modern research by the big car companies. Manufacturers are trying to develop super-capacitors and flywheel technology, too. There’s a very good reason to believe that before long you’ll be able to store all the energy from a two-ton car at 100 km/h [62mph] as it stops at the traffic lights. Almost all of that energy can be stored and re-used for acceleration, or, in a high performance car, to add to the performance. That’s what we’re talking about in F1: having energy stored in a 20kg device and giving the drivers a push-to-pass button that will use the stored energy for an overtaking boost. All the research will go into storing max energy in minimum weight plus being able to absorb it and store and re-use it as quickly as possible – perhaps for a burst of energy down the straight.

With present technology we can probably store enough energy for 60bhp over nine seconds and it would take all lap to store that much. An F1 car, when it’s braking on the limit, dissipates 2500bhp through the brakes. You can claim back only a small proportion of that, but if you say that now we could take 100bhp to use for six seconds, we’d soon get more than that. If Toyota and BMW and Mercedes dedicate more research to it, then the effort and momentum would be completely different. The motivation of all the engineers would be different. At the moment we’re struggling to get 200 extra rpm out of engines and instead they will be working on a new area of research.

Flywheel technology is another area that could produce great dividends for energy re-use. Benetton, McLaren and Williams were all looking at these systems about 10 years ago, but we brought in a rule to stop it, because of the cost and because we were alarmed about the possibility of having 4-500kj of energy suddenly let loose. Since then there has been an enormous amount of work on containment systems and that problem no longer exists. As long as it doesn’t dissipate its energy explosively, it’s okay. If you let it go all at once it’s like dynamite, but there are systems now to stop this happening.

For me this area doesn’t even warrant discussion. It’s so obviously good for F1: it’s exactly what the road cars need and it would give us a push-to-pass button.

Must F1 and motorsport become more environmentally aware to avoid being outlawed by governments?
I think it would be prudent, although I don’t think motorsport would ever be outlawed as such, because it’s just another way of entertaining using fuel. So before outlawing motorsport you would have to stop people using yachts and running private planes for pleasure. There’s no end to it.

Where motor racing could be vulnerable is if there’s an oil crisis of some sort, then there could be a major problem because politicians like something symbolic, particularly something like F1, to show that they are serious about economising on fuel. They might try to stop F1 for six months, for example, which would be completely stupid, but if we are working absolutely on the cutting edge of fuel efficiency and economy, it gives the friends that we have among politicians a very strong argument to protect racing.

It’s a bit like the way we used motorsport effectively to subsidise Euro NCAP, which we did before it became fashionable. The idea was that if we had a serious accident, Euro NCAP would give us a lot of friends politically, because we could demonstrate that we were doing far more good than harm even if we had a really bad accident. In order to get politicians on your side you’ve got to give them an argument. That was the idea.

Is there time pressure for motorsport to become greener?
I think we should be doing it now. If the teams and the GPMA do not agree, we’ll go ahead anyway. We’ll draw up our own rules for the box for 2009, unless someone produces an overwhelming reason not to. We would prefer to do it in discussion with the manufacturers, but we don’t have to. Provided we give two years notice we can bring in any technical regulation for 2009 we like, under the Concorde Agreement. And after ’09, that becomes 18 months notice. Unless and until we sign up to another Concorde Agreement, we are free to do what we like and of course teams and manufacturers are free to enter or not enter. But it would be difficult for manufacturers to go off and insist on running to the existing type of regulations if there’s an F1 world championship with modern technology available.

What has been the teams’ response to these ideas?
Some of them are talking to the experts on these storage devices. All the big car companies have people working on these systems. They’re already on buses and trains, so it’s a coming technology.

Could more manufacturers be encouraged to enter a more environmentally aware motorsport world?

Yes. The fact that we are putting a stop to €200m F1 engine budgets makes it more likely that we will gain a manufacturer or two, than to lose one.

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