Following today’s announcement that Formula 1 has an ambitious sustainability plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030, there are many commenting as to why the sport should still even be around in the first place. It is a fair argument to make as the F1 circus does indeed create a lot of unnecessary emissions every time it travels the globe annually. Therefore, now is a good time to remind ourselves exactly why the world needs motor racing to begin with.
Sir Stirling Moss famously declared: “There is no doubt that motor racing is here to improve cars.” Herein lies the fundamental principle behind motor racing – to make the cars driven by citizens of the world safer, efficient, reliable and (let’s be honest) aesthetically pleasing.
In the first instance, engines have been developed drastically as a result of motorsport and in doing so the cost has become more affordable for the everyday member of society to be able to drive a car with a reliable engine. Whether the victorious rotary engine of the 1991 Mazda 787 B at Le Mans or the 2019 Honda engine breathing new life into Aston Martin Red Bull Racing – development is rapid and the benefits are endless. F1 has been reduced from V10s to a hybrid power unit and many fans have complained bitterly about this but when you recall that Britain has said it plans to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040 – such a change is hardly surprising.
Much also has been written on Pirelli’s tyre compounds and despite being criticized for being too durable or too quick to degrade (there really is no pleasing some people) this again leads to safer vehicles for the road by knowing the durability and the performance of different rubber compounds in different conditions. Not to mention the aerodynamic breakthroughs over the years resulting from engineers understanding the importance of effective air penetration so as to improve the performance and handling of the vehicle. Maybe not all cars will employ the ‘shark fin’ which is seen on modern F1 cars but the data is there to know how the vehicle would perform if they did.
Of course, Formula 1 is always representated as demonstrating the cutting edge of technology so who knows, maybe it will not be uncommon for road users of the future to have biometric gloves. At present, the drivers of the 2019 grid wear these landmark safety devices. The gloves – developed by the FIA Safety Department – feature sensors stitched into the fabric that monitor the driver’s pulse rate and the oxygen levels in his blood. They transmit that potentially life-saving data back to the at-track medical team, before, during and after a crash. Maybe an everyday road user will not need all the features but for a driver’s heart rate and maybe even toxicology level to be monitored whilst driving – could only be a good thing.
However, whilst Formula 1 is trying to stake a claim that is still relevant and open to change, in 2020 its dominance in motor racing will be challenged by the dawn of a new era, the era of the Hypercar!
Little is known of this new entrant into the World Endurance Championship for 2020 other than the fact that Toyota and Aston Martin are the first manufacturers to have officially announced their commitment to the new as-yet-unnamed WEC category. Nevertheless, once you learn that the Aston Martin: Valkyrie has been designed by none other than legendary designer of F1 cars Adrian Newey, it is certain to catch the eye of many a spectator. Not only this but this classification may show the greatest ever connection to an everyday vehicle.
One of the main requirements of a hypercar is that it has the exterior appearance of a road car whilst also having the option to utilise a hybrid power source if it wishes.
For as long as the world continues to evolve and exploit new technologies, there will always be a place for motor racing and especially Formula One. In this sport, brave men put their life on the line every time they enter the cockpit in a quest for personal glory and to make a difference in the world. Whether the consequence of their actions are felt 10 days later or 10 years later – their actions are needed. History shows the role motorsport has and as such expect it to be around for many a year…certainly longer than a petrol car!