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F1 to drop hybrid technology?

NEWS STORY
16/05/2024

F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali hints that success with sustainable fuels in 2026 could lead to the sport dropping hybrid technology.

Granted, the idea is in its infancy, and hasn't been discussed with the teams, but the very thought that the sport is considering such a move would be welcomed by many, though presumably not the engine manufacturers.

With the 2026 engine rules already agreed, and confirmation of the chassis regulations expected any time now, focus will shift to the next overhaul in 2030.

Form those fans that followed the sport prior to Drive to Survive, one of the biggest complaints about the hybrid era has been the loss of the iconic sound of F1. Though the sport has artificially tried to improve the sound over the years since, fans and drivers alike still hanker for the iconic sound of previous eras such as that of the V10s.

Speaking to the media ahead of this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which marks thirty years since the death of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, with the sport in reflective mood, as fans recall the drivers, cars and sound of that era, Domenicali hinted that if the switch to sustainable fuels in 2026 proves successful, the sport should begin to consider a new direction moving forward.

"As soon as the 2026 regulations are defined, we will start to think about what the next steps will be, such as the 2030 engine," he told members of the media.

"It is a personal consideration of mine, not yet shared with the teams, even if we have spoken about it with the FIA, that if sustainable fuels work, we will need to carefully evaluate whether to continue with hybrid technology or whether better solutions will be available," he added.

Referring to the 2026 regulations, which are due to be published by the end of June, he said: "In recent weeks there has been an alignment between the various parties involved, and the publication of the 2026 regulations should take place on 1 June.

"The FIA will then explain the changes, which are many," he added. "And it will be important to clarify as best as possible because I have read a series of interpretations that do not correspond to what the new regulations will be.

"The sore point, but unfortunately necessary at the moment, is related to the weight of the single-seaters," he admitted. "By keeping the hybrid power unit solution also for 2026, a significant increase in weight is inevitable. If we compare a prediction of the 2026 single-seater with a car from ten years ago, we can see that weight has become a significant issue.

"All drivers would like to have lighter cars, and personally I would also like a slightly larger sound," he continued. "On this last front, we are working to try to increase the number of decibels.

"From the research we are carrying out, it emerges that all markets, and all age groups, want a better sound as well as the energy and vibrations that only a certain type of engine is capable of transmitting when you are close to the track."

Of course, looking ahead to 2030, other than noise, the dumping of hjbrid technology would also significantly reduce the weight of the cars.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ARL, 3 hours ago

"Energy used to generate noise and vibrations is not pushing the cars rear wheels along. So, if you want a no holds barred energy efficiency formula, you will end up with turbochargers - and probably a hybrid energy system too.

There again, if you can come up with a formula that allows BRM V-16s, Matra V-12s, and Can-Am cars from the 60s to pound round together, then go for it. Just forget carbon neutrality.

As for "sustainable" fuels, just search for Pat Symonds and Ross Brawn explaining what they aim to achieve in producing a hydrogen carbon fuel from electrolysis of water, through renewable electrical generation, to produce the hydrogen and combining with carbon from .......(it drifts off into gibberish at this point).

To avoid a multi page diatribe, they still need to dream up the technology and then put it into production at industrial scales while somehow avoiding/negating the inevitable energy losses and carbon emissions. For starters hydrogen and oxygen are remarkably well bonded (odd that), so that takes a fair bit of energy to split. The process gets tougher from there on.

I'm sure Stefano can find smooth low-emission words to explain it all.
"

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2. Posted by MossMan, 17/05/2024 12:34

"I like ChickenFarmerF1's suggestion of having an energy-per-race cap and let the teams work out how they want to do it - but that's not nearly regulated enough for modern F1 so it will never happend.

Regarding Chester's comments on Formula E - in my opinion it's time to drop the one-make formula and gives teams free reign to design there as well. It was necessary at first since there weren't the resources to develop bespoke drivetrains while EVs were in their infancy, but I think it would be more exciting *and* more innovative with relaxed rules now. I'd be fine with F1 being all electric if you had things like the the Ariel P40 and McMurtry racing in there!"

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3. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 16/05/2024 19:51

"Refueling must be brought back. It's more "green" than an overly heavy car and a heck lot more exciting.

I would also introduce points for qualifying if refueling is brought back. A back field team could qualify on fumes to get a good grid spot and few points to shake things up. Even if they have to pit on the 2nd lap, would make for much more exciting race."

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4. Posted by VC10-1103, 16/05/2024 17:50

"I want to hear the sound of Flat 12’s & V 12’s again"

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5. Posted by studiousbadger, 16/05/2024 16:37

"Prompted to post by the newsletter, I don't think that this suggestion is the positive truism our esteemed ed believes it to be. I started watching in the V10 era, and much as I love the sound of those cars the fact is that excessive sound = inefficiency. Reverting to ICE-only at this stage would be a backwards and harmful step making an already nice sport even more irrelevant. Suggesting that Liberty might start influencing the car formula itself for reasons of spectacle rather than engineering is a slippery slope that we surely don't want to start down. I quite like @chickenfarmerf1's idea about specifying power output only, but not delivery system, though this would be likely to lead to some embarrassingly different and possibly even dangerous disparities in lap times (after all, it would be less of a formula). "

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6. Posted by Max Noble, 16/05/2024 13:30

"@spindoctor - Beautifully stated. Those with vested interests want to keep the addiction going. "

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7. Posted by Spindoctor, 16/05/2024 11:22

"I'll definitely not be holding my breath.
I loved the sound & fury of those rorty v10s & V12s, but things move on. As a one time Lotus owner I applaud any move to "simplify, then add lightness", but I'm not sure reverting to a superseded technology is the way to go. When was the last time you popped-down to the local Hippodrome to watch the Chariot Racing?

Developing so-called "sustainable" fuels is just another legacy ploy\rear-guard action aimed at squeezing the last few drops of profit out of a century of investment in ICE technology.

F1 has little real-world significance. If you're going to run IC engines then the extra pollution of a season's-worth of refined Black Gold\Texas Tea is insignificant, so why waste all that effort & investment going down a practical, moral & technical dead-end? Alternatively, I should hope that F1 can still provide an excellent proving-ground for more advanced battery & control technologies for at least some manufacturers.
"

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8. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 16/05/2024 11:00

"Doing something that the fans want, that will be a first."

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9. Posted by Superbird70, 16/05/2024 10:48

"Just read an article suggestion that Honda and Dodge/Stellantis are looking to join NASCAR but in hybrid form only. Does F1 really want that comparision?"

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10. Posted by KKK, 16/05/2024 8:42

"Hurrah! About time ! "

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11. Posted by ancient70!, 16/05/2024 7:52

"Great! So now we can have cars designed as pure racing cars again. Not the current technology demonstrators, that are big and overweight. Last time I checked Mercedes did not have a 1600 v6 single turbo engine in their car range. This after they claimed such a engine configuration was absolutely essential to be relevant to them."

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12. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 16/05/2024 5:20

"Good.
Honda and GM aren’t having a successful time with hybrid over at Indy and the sooner this tech is gone from F1 the better.
Extend this to ordinary cars too as many hybrid do not offer the fuel savings as advertised. "

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13. Posted by Chester, 15/05/2024 22:08

"Have manufacturers benefited from the current F1 hybrid formula? Not sure. I don't see Mercedes as some King Hybrid/EV maker. Possibly Honda has.

As stated, Formula E has EV covered. If that is all we have in the future I am done. Zero interest."

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14. Posted by Superbird70, 15/05/2024 21:53

"F1 should be ICE only. We already have Formula E so just create a Formula HEV and be done with it. If someone wants to watch they will. Maybe a market in USA."

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15. Posted by Dirt, 15/05/2024 21:46

"@ Sam 66: Unlikely given hydrogen's pressurized storage requirements. Not impossible, but I wouldn't hold my breath."

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