F1 teams handed prototype sustainable fuel as it seeks net-zero carbon target

Lewis Hamilton’s contract extension to continue racing in Formula One with Mercedes appears to have been sealed.

The team issued a tweet on Thursday evening which all but confirmed that the deal with the world champion has been completed and is now only awaiting an official announcement. Hamilton won his seventh world championship this season and has been widely expected to extend his contract with Mercedes.

Negotiations had been put on hold, however, due to the coronavirus but both Hamilton and the team had said they hoped a deal would be signed before Christmas and it appears they have concluded arrangements swiftly.

Mercedes posted a Tweet using the hashtag “announce” followed by the coming soon and pen emojis. It also quoted Hamilton’s comments made after the season finale in Abu Dhabi in which the world champion insisted he had every intention of staying with the team. “I plan to be here next year. I want to be here next year,” he said. “As a team we have more to do together, more to achieve both in the sport and more outside the sport.”

The expectation is that Hamilton will at least extend his contract for one year. His name, as a driver for Mercedes, has already been published by the FIA on its entry list for 2021. He has said he feels fit and motivated enough to race on for another three years.

There are also reports that Red Bull’s Alex Albon will be dropped next season to make way for Sergio Pérez as teammate to Max Verstappen. Red Bull have yet to make any official comment. Pérez has been replaced at Racing Point for next season by Sebastian Vettel.

Sustainable fuel can help F1 reach zero-carbon target
The FIA, meanwhile, has developed a 100% sustainable fuel and presented it to Formula One with the intention of helping the sport reach a net-zero carbon target by 2030. F1 is set to introduce new engine regulations in 2026 and they are under discussion now. Next year, the teams will be required to use 10% sustainable fuel, with the aim of reaching a mandatory 100% in 2026.

The move is a major step towards developing the sport’s future, which it is hoped will be a hybrid of electric power and an internal combustion engine powered entirely by sustainable fuel. The FIA’s biofuel, which has been presented to all the engine manufacturers, has been refined entirely from bio-waste not intended for human or animal consumption. The aim is to prove the technology works and to assist teams in working with their current fuel suppliers to develop their own versions.

The move was welcomed by F1’s director of motor sport, Ross Brawn. “We are delighted by the momentum on sustainable fuels, which perfectly aligns with our plan to be net-zero carbon as a sport by 2030,” he said. “Our top sustainability priority now is building a roadmap for the hybrid engine that reduces emissions and has a real-world benefit for road cars. We believe we have the opportunity to do that with a next-generation engine that combines hybrid technology with sustainable fuels.”

F1, the FIA and car manufacturers have already established a working group on engine regulations that will be based around a sustainable fuel-electric hybrid technology. There is widespread belief that sustainable fuel will be vital in reducing global carbon emissions and may prove a short- and potentially long-term solution for the road car industry.

The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, recently noted that the use of the internal combustion engine in combination with sustainable fuel would impose a lower carbon footprint than electric vehicles where their energy was originally derived from coal or gas.

The FIA has also matched F1’s commitment toward sustainability, with the organisation stating its aim to reach carbon neutrality in 2021 and to be carbon net-zero by 2030.