May 22, 2007 The clean fuel movement may have an unlikely ally in the task of bringing environmentally friendly motoring solutions to the market - Formula One racing. FIA president Max Mosley has announced a partnership with clean engine specialists Ricardo - and a plan that could see F1 cars running on clean biofuel and leading a "green revolution" by 2011.
The influence of Formula One in developing technology for road vehicles can not be overstated - as the recognised pinnacle of motorsport, the biggest show on two wheels has an unique position of privilege and responsibility in the automotive industry. And after hinting about it for years, it seems Max Mosley is determined to force F1 teams to lead the way in sustainable, clean motor development.
Under the plan, the current 2.4 litre V8 engines would be downsized to 2.2 litre turbocharged V6s running on biofuel. Maximum engine revs would be dropped from the current screaming 19,000rpm to 10,000rpm, making the cars far less noisy than they are currently. The estimated power output of the smaller engines would be around 770 horsepower, down about 100 compared to the present engines.
Each engine would be required to last five races, up from the current two, and the cars would be fitted with traction control systems, four wheel drive and a power-boost facility similar to that used in the A1GP series that should help the cars to make overtakes.
Mosley spoke to F1-Racing Magazine about making F1 technology more relevant to consumer auto development: "We are in active discussions with the major manufacturers to ensure that, in future, research and development relevant only to Formula One will be discouraged, whereas that which has relevance to road-car development will be encouraged.
"We understand that such an approach has broad support from the competing manufacturers and we will work closely with them to ensure that, in particular, the new environmentally relevant technologies that many of them are developing are made our priority.
"Whilst aiming to achieve these goals we will ensure that the sporting spectacle of F1 remains the same or is even improved by the new developments."
While the new rules should see F1 technology and clean energy solutions moving more quickly into the consumer domain, and as such should be a benefit to engine constructors with one foot in racing and the other in road car production, the move will certainly put extra financial stress on F1 teams in the shorter term, who are already looking at huge levels on investment to keep up with regulations requiring sealed engines in 2007, and regenerative braking in 2009.
Without Mosley's virtually unchallengable power as FIA president, a role in which he oversees the rule-making in F1 and the WRC championship, it is clear the engine constructors would not be making these changes by themselves. Thus, Mosley's determination to push them through - in the face of criticism from fans of the sport and race teams alike - is to be lauded.