F1 turns to alternative fuels for 2026 refusing the full electric alternative

As numerous
western governments around the world seemingly spelled the end of the
combustion engine with the banning of engines that run solely on petrol and diesel,
it’s fair to say the future for the combustion engine looked relatively bleak.

If it was a
business its share price would’ve crashed.

But, as we’re
only now just over eight years away until the ban comes unto force here in the
UK, there has been seemingly been a vote of confidence from manufacturers
around the world that our future does indeed lie with the combustion engine.

How do we
know? Well, rumours from the F1 paddock that VW Group, or at least one of its
brands will be joining the pit lane from 2026.

2026 is when
the next major engine redesign comes in and presents and opportunity for new manufacturers
to join the fun.

F1 to be
carbon neutral from 2030

As part of
this redesign, F1 and its engine manufacturers (Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and
Honda) could’ve gone pretty much any way it wanted to. The two major factors
influencing engine decisions are cost and the ability for the technology to
transferred to production cars.

choosing to opt for a revised hybrid engine with the removal of an expensive
MGU-H unit for 2026, F1 and its manufacturers, which will likely include VW as
it has been at the table for talks, are therefore unsurprisingly predicting that
hybrid technology will continue to be a key player in the market in 2026 and

As part of
F1’s drive to be carbon neutral by 2030 these hybrid engines will need to be
fueled differently to the way they currently are.

introduction of sustainable fuels is a fundamental part of F1’s future strategy
that will see it be carbon neutral from 2030.

As with our
own pumps, E10 fuels have been introduced at the F1 pitlane to this year, 10%
of which are made from biofuels but there are much bigger plans for the future
which should see the sport very much lead from the front given the nature of
the industry.

These plans
include introducing fuels made from biomass and synthetic e-fuels. Both can be
used to fuel internal combustion engines, hence why there will likely be life
in the old dog yet.

If that’s
unsurprising, maybe another revelation from the BBC’s Andrew Benson is slightly
more eye catching.

He’s reported
here that from 2030 hydrogen is being seriously investigated as the next fuel
for the sport in what is a clear ‘no’ to full electric power.

What are
biomass and synthetic fuels?

regular gasoline, both fuels emit CO2 which is a major hurdle.

They have a
claim to being more sustainable however as they create reduced emissions over
the life cycle of the fuel.

Biomass is
made from waste oil from animals and plants, waste from homes and businesses
and even feedstocks. The fuel is considered to be carbon neutral as the product
will only ever give out the same amount of carbon when it’s burned than it’s absorbed
while growing.

fuels can also be carbon neutral and are made via an industrial process that
captures CO2 from the atmosphere and combines it with hydrogen to make fuel. The
major downside with synthetics is that manufacturing them, with today’s
technology at least, requires a lot of energy which downgrades just how ‘green’
the fuel is.

VW Group brand,
Porsche, has already invested heavily in a synthetic e-fuel plant in Chile –
hence why speculation is growing that it will be Porsche themselves, or
potentially Audi with its famous Le Mans history, that are the brand that enters F1 in 2026.

F1 bosses
have not yet committed one way or the other to either biomass or synthetic
fuels and don’t appear to have a preference at this stage, which is likely because
the manufacturers themselves don’t yet know either.

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