Monday, 14 December 2009

An Electric F1 car? MADNESS.

I came up with today's rant after a talk with my Environmental-former-Greenpeace-Activist Wife. Blame her.

The Rules for Next season of Formula 1 have been announced for some time now, and key on the list is the fact that refueling has been banned for the 2010 season. Now, as seen in the previous couple of posts – and to Kimi Räikönnen's detriment – refueling can have some fairly dire results when it comes to accidents.

However, for me at least, the ban on refueling has a far more significant knock-on.

In these days of climate change, global warming and mass panic over the fact that the Earth's polar ice-caps may indeed vanish in the near future, the Ban on refueling can be taken to represent the fact that Formula 1 is finally moving towards a more environmentally friendly method of racing.

F1 has long been criticised for its environmental image. When Honda used the “EarthDreams” livery, they were criticised for 'Greenwashing' their image. Bridgestone were accused of similar crimes when they declared that the green stripes on their tires represented their support for the FIA's “Make Cars Green” campaign.

A nifty trick. In the first case, the Honda RA107 got five miles to the gallon and produced over 138 tonnes of carbon per race. In the second, Bridgestone pushed for the “two-compound” rule – forcing the cars to use multiple sets of tires per race, as opposed to 2005 when they used one set per race. The sheer amount of rubber destroyed in these tires is borderline obscene.

Although, admittedly, the RA107 livery was more of a marketing move than an attempt to make the cars more environmentally friendly, the new rules of F1 are a positive step in the right direction.

While the cars, for at least one season, may be using just as much fuel as before, the nifty trick regarding this is that, initially, the cars will have to compromise in order to carry that amount of petrol.

The knock-on effect being that the cars will have to become more fuel efficient. Through this, we could see the re-introduction of the KERS system. For those of you unfamiliar with F1, the KERS system harvested the thermal energy created by braking the car and put into a battery, this could then be used to give the car a temporary 60 BHP boost in power. Now, that system, for 2009, was abominably expensive, with all the teams dropping it for 2010. However, with fuel space at a premium – none of the teams can afford to compromise their aerodynamics for fuel – Surely it is only a matter of time until KERS makes a comeback to give those cars an edge around the track.

All of this leads to less fuel being used. Those cars have to become more fuel efficient, while staying competitive. The team that makes the most fuel-efficient car will use less fuel. That makes them able to run at lighter weights. That makes them faster.

So what we'll have is a new F1 arms war. In order to make the faster car, they have to make them better at using less fuel. So the next stage is to use less tires. The simple solution here is to go back to using only one set per race. Now the nifty thing about the slick tires the cars have gone back to using is that the pressure is more evenly distributed over their surface – meaning that they break down at a slightly slower rate than the grooved tires that were used in 2005. Of course, this all revolves around the “two-compounds” rule being revoked. Bridgestone make an awful lot of money out of that rule.

However, after 2010, Bridgestone will no longer be supplying the tires for Formula 1 Competition. So, whoever comes in has the opportunity to make a significant environmental impact.

So, what am I building up to here? Well, to illustrate, I want to introduce you to an electric car:

What...? No, not that one! That car blows!

I meant This One:

Now that Sexy beast of a car is the Lightning GT. And it is a fully electric car with a range of 188 miles. It uses KERS to keep its batteries charged up. The Lithium-Titanate batteries have a lifetime expectancy of twelve years.

Words fail to describe how much I want one. And at £120,000, its about 35 times cheaper than the average F1 car as well.

Now, This gives me hope that we will see a fully electric Formula 1 car within my lifetime. And not just an electric F1 car, a competitive electric F1 car. And the first time one of those near-silent electric F1 cars wins a race, the other teams with their Gas-Guzzling cars are going to look at it and go “wait a minute...”

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is where F1 will finally make the step to not only being the worlds Premier Motorsport, but the worlds most environmentally friendly as well.

And that's just what the sport, the fans, and the world need to see.


1 comment:

Rebecca said...

I do love F1, but it always makes me feel more than just mildly guilty when I watch it...still, with only limited supplies of oil which we are guzzling at a horrific rate, it will be inevitable that F1, like the rest of us, will be forces to change its fuel source, or else it will perish.

Of course whilst electric F1 cars are an interesting thought, there may well be thought given to biofuel or hydrogen power cells, though looking at current technology trends, it does seem that electricity is the way to go. Either way, inevitably we shall shortly see the end to petrol heads. Maybe we will be buzz heads, oil heads, or hydro heads?