Formula 1 | Synthetic fuels: F2 will be the laboratory of F1

Formula 2 and Formula 3 have recently announced the use of sustainable fuel from next year in partnership with Aramco. In reality, the Saudi oil company will use the promotional formulas as a giant laboratory for the arrival of synthetic fuels in F1 in 2026, bringing new products little by little from a biofuel.

“We intend to have a booster fuel to use the existing engine by 2023 and complete the same formulation by 2024” explained Pierre Calendini, director of fuel research at Aramco.

“So our next step will be in 2025 and 2026 to start including the synthetic components and then pave the way to Formula 1 by 2026 with fully sustainable fuel, and to arrive with fully sustainable fuel in 2027 for F2 and F3”.

“The biofuel strategy is a way to achieve what we call sustainable components. The fuel is a mixture of different molecules and we can very quickly start using bio-based components very close to what we will produce in 2024 and then use . to develop from here.”

“Then we introduce and increase the amount of molecules made by the synthetic process. Synthetic fuel is a big program. We are currently investing in two pilot production sites, one in Saudi Arabia and one in Spain.”

“This would lead in 2024 to one of the largest pilot productions of synthetic fuels. And then we will use our molecules to make the fuel for F2, F3 and also to think about Formula 1 for the fuels of 2025, 2026 and 2027.”

Didier Perrin, the technical director of F2, confirms these ambitions: “We have a big ambition with Aramco, F2 and F3. We want to be sustainable with synthetic fuel and capturing carbon dioxide by 2027 is much more ambitious than just being sustainable.”

“Based on this goal, we are establishing a roadmap in several stages, the first of which will be in 2023 to start with sustainable fuel. But the development will continue until we reach the really ambitious goal of being fully sustainable and synthetic in 2027”.

Similar engines with different fuel

Mecachrome is currently supplying the F2 engines, often criticized for their reliability. It is not planned to change the engine, but simply to adapt the current blocks to the new fuels.

“On the engine side, right now and for 2023, 2024, to get the fuel into those engines, we won’t have to make any hardware changes. Maybe starting in 2025 and definitely starting in 2027, maybe we’ll have to do some adjustments. to the hardware, like the injectors or something like that.”

“But for now, for 2023 and 2024, the introduction of the new fuel is exactly the same engine, just a different mapping, and that’s nice. Basically, we don’t intend to bring any changes to the cars for next year. That’s the beauty of this project, we’re developing the engine with the new fuel for 2023.”

“The engines are currently on the dyno and so far we haven’t needed to make any hardware changes to the engine, we just have to adapt the map to the new fuel. So that’s really good for the teams, it’s really good for us . And everything is going great so far with the existing engines.”

With this, it is hoped that the reliability of F2, already questioned on several occasions, will not change: “Obviously it’s something we take into account in the partnership with Aramco, who have already been involved in a few championships with sustainable fuels. We’ve got some information and we take it into account in the development of the engine to make it sustainable. future”.

“So yes, with Aramco, we are learning from past experience and incorporating that into current development. But we are confident that from a reliability standpoint, to be completely transparent, we expect exactly the same level of performance and reliability “.

Bruno Michel wants to be reassuring about reliability

F2 is already testing these fuels and their effects in the current engines that power the single-seaters designed by Dallara. Bruno Michel, director of F2 and F3, is in no way worried about this change.

“We are doing all the necessary testing for all the pre-selection and selection of the fuel we will be using next year and I can tell you with certainty that the fuel will not be a reliability issue at all” reassures the manager. “For everything, including the engine, we’re a one-design category.”

“Everybody runs in the same gear. And at some point you can be unlucky, let’s put it that way. At some point you can have technical problems that have nothing to do with the engine, or that have nothing to do with the fuel” .

“But as I said, we will do whatever is necessary in terms of testing because, as you can imagine, before we introduce any fuel, we embark on a very intense development program.

“Right now, the engines and the fuel we’re going to use next year are on the test bench for hours and hours before we put them on the track, in our development car, and before we show them to everyone.”

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