Could F1 go green with bioethanol?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

FIA President Max Mosley characteristically courted controversy in July this year when he warned of the implications of a global oil crisis for Formula One:

Motor racing could be vulnerable if there’s an oil crisis of some sort, then there could be a major problem because politicians like something symbolic, something like F1, to show they’re serious about economising on fuel. They might try to stop F1 for six months, for example.

BTCC Silverstone, 2006Don’t let the soundbite-friendly alarmism distract you from the salience of these words. In a House of Lords debate yesterday the issue of how oil-hungry motorsport can defend itself in the time of growing concern over climate change.

Minister of State (Sustainable Farming and Food) Lord Rocker explained how some entrants in the British Touring Car Championship are already using bioethanol fuel, which is produced from renewable crops:

The fact is that ordinary life need not stop as we adapt to climate change…with biofuels, I can give an example of how the situation will not shatter our way of life in terms of having to change and adjust. Yesterday, I was a guest of Energy Efficient Motorsport at Silverstone for the British Touring Car Championship. Engines there were running and racing on 85 per cent bioethanol fuels.

Indy Racing League, Chicagoland, 2006Bioethanol is by no means a ‘perfect’ solution to the green question – it is questionable how much of our current oil use could be substituted by growing enormous fields of crops for bioethanol fuel production.

But with top-level single seater series such as the Indy Racing League (pictured) making the switch to bioethanol, it is a worthy option for the FIA to investigate.

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