Although Formula 1 is not a sport naturally associated with greenness in the public consciousness, it actually has a strong track record of delivering environmentally relevant technology. Success in Formula 1 is all about efficiency; the teams attempt to wring every drop of performance from a fixed set of resources to allow them to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. In doing so, they create and develop technology which allows wider society to enjoy improved performance from fewer resources.
Team principal Eric Boullier explains Lotus F1 Team’s vision for a greener future:
“Formula 1 has a long history of providing technological development that is much wider than simply making fast racing cars. The trickle down of useful technology has, however, been incidental to the aims of the sport. Contrastingly, in recent years the sport has taken a conscious decision to structure its regulations to ensure that the technology it delivers is both immediate and directly relevant to the future improvement of road car efficiency. Lotus F1 Team has played, and continues to play, a constructive role in the creation of these regulations.”
“Back at our factory, we have delivered many smaller scale initiatives to ensure that our direct activities have a reduced carbon footprint. So, whether on the small stage of our operations at Enstone, or on the wider stage of the strategic direction for Formula 1, Lotus F1 Team is committed to promoting and supporting initiatives that ensure that our activities contribute to a greener future for society.”
MAKING FUEL EFFICIENT
A common misconception about Formula One is that on-track performance is a function solely of power. In fact, performance comes from a number of different sources, and one of those is fuel consumption. If you can lower fuel consumption while still generating the same performance, you improve the car’s efficiency. Achieve this in Formula 1 and your car will possess a performance advantage in racing conditions since less fuel needs to be carried, which reduces overall weight and improves performance.
Fuel consumption and the efficient conversion of fuel into energy, are therefore major development priorities for engine and fuel manufacturers. It is for this reason that Lotus F1 Team’s close working relationship with TOTAL is of such importance, especially following the ban on refuelling which was introduced in 2010, meaning cars must carry enough fuel to last the entire race distance.
Total engineers also seek to minimise friction wherever it can occur in the car, not only in the engine, but also in the gear box, oil pumps, hydraulic pumps, transmissions and bearings, by adapting and optimising lubricants and greases for the needs of each mechanical component. However, the benefits don’t just apply to the racetrack because what TOTAL learns from Formula 1 is transferred directly to its commercial products. One way to achieve maximum performance from the lowest quantity of fuel is to combine the fuel with certain additives to help reduce the level of friction on the pistons.
Additives also help clean the engine, avoid deposits in the combustion chamber, and minimise friction, which leads to reduced fuel consumption. It is these same additives developed for Formula 1 fuel that are used in TOTAL’s commercial road car fuel.
Stay tuned for part 2, which explores the role of aerodynamics in developing more efficient road cars.