Change in Formula One seems to happen at breakneck speeds so no wonder that there is so much talk about 2022 even before the 2021 F1 season has commenced. The latest revelation is the news that Red Bull Racing’s Team Principal Christian Horner and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Principal Toto Wolff would both back a delay of F1’s increased use of biofuels which is planned for 2022.
2022 is the year when the new Formula One regulations will be implemented due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them back from the originally planned 2021 date. Formula One is making a conscious effort to become a more economically and ecologically viable sport and appears to be in a hurry to do so.
As with any technical component of the sport, the data can be quite confusing. The simple fact is that at present, teams must ensure that its fuel contains 5.75% of biofuel components. For 2022 the requirement must increase by 4.25% so that the fuel now consists of 10% of biofuel components – hence the name - E10 fuel.
However, recent comments revealed on motorsport.com show that E10 may not be implemented in 2022 if certain teams were to get their way.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team Principal Toto Wolff said that as part of the talks, Mercedes was “actually pretty neutral whether we do E10 or whether we don’t”, believing it to be “just a small step”.
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner also shared his thoughts on the matter with the same publication:
“My preference would be probably not to do the E10 fuel…It’s a development direct requirement for 2022, and [we’d prefer to] just bring in a completely sustainable core fuel with a new engine [instead of] going another five per cent on the E10 for the current fuel.”
“I'm not sure it's a huge message, whereas 2026 - which may become 2025 - is if it's a fully-sustainable fuel.
Christian Horner is referring to the fact that when the next generation of power units are introduced, so too will be a requirement for them to use 100% sustainable fuels. As Horner says, the date for this development was 2026 but there is a chance that it will be brought forward to 2025 if an engine freeze is permitted.
“There will be consequences to introducing that [100% sustainable] fuel and that consequence obviously is inevitably costly.”
Such fundamental changes to the sport are already being prepared for. So much so, that earlier last week, the FIA delivered its first barrels of fully-sustainable fuel to F1’s engine manufacturers. By providing a sample of this revolutionary fuel to the teams they are able to begin their research ready for the future ahead.
The FIA has also given their own update in the most recent issue of the governing body’s magazine, AUTO with regard to developing the fuel.
FIA technical director Gilles Simon announced:
“We have not yet completed a full plan, but what I can say is that our target we are working towards, sustainable fuels, 100% sustainable fuels, in 2023,” Simon said. “We are progressing, but I cannot say today it will be then. It’s a little too soon to say we will be using 100% sustainable fuel in ’23. But this is what we will try and achieve.”
At a time of so much change, Toto Wolff has recently shared with www.f1.com that there had been several times in 2020 where he wished he could have sought the advice of his dearly missed friend and colleague Niki Lauda:
“There have been situations this year where I’ve wished I could have had his opinion,” said Wolff. “But in a funny way, when I ask myself, ‘what would you have done, Niki?’ the answer comes to me immediately, because he was so straightforward. When I used to ask Niki about various situations he would always respond with such certainty: ‘I think you should do this…’”
As a legend of the sport of Formula One, we can only guess as to how the straightforward Austrian former three-time Drivers’ World Champion Niki Lauda would have responded to such discussion of engine freezes and biofuels. One thing is clear though, change is inevitable.
Already, as a way to combat the predicted escalation of costs, several teams have been suggesting that there should be an engine freeze in 2022. The loudest voice in the crowd on this topic is Red Bull Racing due to the fact that its engine supplier, Honda, leaves the sport at the end of 2021. An engine freeze would enable Red Bull to continue using the same 2021 Honda engines in the 2022 season.
Red Bull Racing has unsurprisingly found support in their cause from Mercedes. It is little wonder that the record-breaking constructors would be happy to see their engine frozen and all those throughout the grid. Mercedes, having won 7 consecutive Constructors’ Championships, are already expected to win the title again in 2021. Therefore, with an engine freeze further success in 2022 would be a very plausible outcome. However, Red Bull Racing do not get it all their own way if this was to happen.
Red Bull Racing will only find an ally in Mercedes on the condition no convergence mechanism for power unit performance is implemented in 2022. This part of the debate is likely to continue for some time because Scuderia Ferrari are very eager to develop such a mechanism as a result of the underwhelming power unit performance experienced by their SF1000 in the 2020 season.
At the end of the day, despite the desire of certain teams to delay implementation, the end goal remains unchanged. Formula One will become a sport with 100% fully sustainable fuels. Therefore, to maximise performance and stay relevant in an ever-changing world, it is likely to happen sooner rather than later.
Speaking of change, Racing Point are no more: https://www.motorlat.com/notas/f1/18449/f1-aston-martin-039-s-return-gathers-pace