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Renault Suggests Hydrogen Might Be The Future Of Formula One

Illustration for article titled Renault Suggests Hydrogen Might Be The Future Of Formula One
Photo: Peter Fox (Getty Images)

With Honda leaving Formula One to pursue electrification, F1 pundits have been wondering what comes next for the series. If the future of the sport is zero-emission, should the FIA start exploring full electrification as an option? Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul, though, has a different idea. He thinks F1 should opt for hydrogen power.

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“I think that what matters most is that we define what is the right technology for the next generation,” Abiteboul said at the Eifel Grand Prix. He continued:

There are many technologies that are emerging. We see that the automotive world is full of doubts. A few years ago we were never talking about hydrogen. It’s a new thing up and coming. Will it be adequate or appropriate for Formula 1? Who knows? I don’t know.

But I think it’s important to pause a bit, wait to make the right decision. But having said that maybe one thing that we could do is do a group that could be a joint group of people, of experts, between all manufacturers, just like we worked on breathing systems for COVID.

It was amazing to see actually this collaboration between teams. That’s something we could do, to do some advanced research, advanced study for the next generation of power unit to make sure that it is right in terms of show, in terms of cost, in terms of competitiveness and in terms or marketing platform, and we should do that sooner rather than later.

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Abiteboul is referring to the fact that F1 is looking to develop new engine regulations for 2026. While there is no indication that F1 will opt for anything other than its current hybrid style power unit, it all comes down to what the future looks like so F1 can stay ahead of the curve. Is that future electrified? Is it hydrogen powered? No one is sure yet.

If you’re not sure what those different options would mean for F1, then look no further than Chain Bear’s newest YouTube video that explores this very topic:

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the world, which means that F1 could be using an easily sourced resource to power its cars rather than opt for biofuels that instead filter tons of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. WEC has considered hydrogen power, and it was one of those big ecologically-friendly trends that popped up and then proceeded to disappear again in the span of a decade. That’s largely due to the fact that hydrogen power isn’t exactly “green” and leaves one hell of a big ecological footprint all of its own.

And it’s possible for hydrogen to power a combustion engine, so you can still have all of that delicious noise that everyone talks so much about. But again—it’s not the answer if F1 is looking for a genuinely ecologically friendly option.

I’ll let Stuart take you through the rest of the facts in the video, but the fact of the matter is, we’re likely to see something hugely different from F1 before the end of the decade.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

batmanbrandon
BatmanBrandon

I’m not against the hydrogen idea, but I like biofuel better. Formula E has the all electric series tied up, so Formula 1 should be all about making the best race car with an internal combustion engine. We’re at the point where OEMs can’t gain much more real world application since the jump to full EVs seems to be coming up relatively quick. So now Formula 1 should focus on an engine regulation about making the worlds fastest racing utilizing ICE regardless of the fuel in them. The only OEMs left to appeal to are me more boutique and supercar makers, so let the engine regulation help Ferrari, Mclaren, and others stay road relevant longer without going full EV.