The debate over sustainability is becoming increasingly heated. Environmental consciousness is increasing. Even within motorsport, there is a public discussion about it. Lewis Hamilton, the reigning Formula One world champion, has gone vegan, sold his private plane, and is increasingly playing the role of environmental crusader. By 2030, Formula One hopes to be carbon neutral.
Formula E is a green championship by definition, but considering the number of nations we visit, we aren’t fully carbon neutral. As a result, we’re working on it.
We’ve all stopped using plastic bottles in our office. When we book flights, we make sure to book with airlines that operate a contemporary fleet of efficient planes. Jerome d’Ambrosio is a vegan who is personally committed to environmental balance. We’ve started a new programme at the team level this year to mitigate our carbon footprint by planting a tree for every Fanboost vote our drivers receive. The only team in the championship to receive the FIA Environmental Accreditation Two-Star certification is Mahindra Racing.
Mahindra Racing first received the rating in November 2016 and has retained its place in the framework following a quarterly audit in February this year, with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020 and achieving a three-star certification. These are some of the reasons why Mahindra is the third most well-known vehicle brand in Formula E, with a social media following of two million people, the majority of whom are young.
Innovation and technology for the sport, as well as for end-users, are on the horizon.
On the technical front, automobile manufacturers and racing teams are utilising the power of innovation to develop cutting-edge solutions. The march toward sustainability is inexorable, with new, lighter materials, more efficient production processes, intelligent software models that make the most optimal use of hybrid engines, and cleaner fuels.
In the end, we’ll have to make sustainability appealing to the general public in order for them to embrace the concept. Motorsport has a role to play here as well. Fast charging, wireless charging, and overcoming range anxiety are just a few examples. The Formula E BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Safety Car sits on a wireless charging pad. As a result, when it is not in use, it is being charged.
This technology has a great deal of potential. Imagine these wireless charging pads being embedded beneath the road’s surface. In principle, you could then charge your EV while driving. There will be no more range concern. Today, it seems far-fetched (and expensive) to put in place. Who knows, though. It’s possible that it will happen tomorrow.
Automation will play a bigger role in the future.
Then there’s the matter of automation. Autonomy and motorsport? Isn’t that going to take the sport out of the word “motor”? Yes, it certainly will. Nobody wants to see robot drivers compete on a racetrack. We want to see humans, our heroes, strapped to road-hugging rocket ships, achieving feats that neither you nor I could. However, there are methods to introduce automation into motorsport – Formula One has considered employing an autonomous Safety Car. Meanwhile, Formula E is developing a backup series dubbed Roborace.
It will not detract from the main event, the ePrix, as a support event. However, it will enable for the development of self-driving automobiles in an environment that is both hard and safe. Similarly, certain aspects of a race can be automated or self-driven, such as the formation lap, the lap to the grid, or when a driver drives through the pits. That way, self-driving technologies can be developed without detracting from the overall race.
At the end of the day, motorsport must remain relevant. However, given the magnitude of the disruption, it’s difficult to predict how that will play out. If the previous decade is any indication, I am confident that the sport of motor racing will undergo even more radical changes. We at Mahindra Racing are looking forward to what lies ahead as long-time members of the brotherhood.