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F2 provides update on carbon capture target for sustainable fuel supply

by Ida Wood

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 2 and Formula 3 are set to use “100% sustainable” fuel from Aramco in 2027 with carbon that will be sourced almost entirely via direct air capture (DAC).

Aramco joined as fuel supplier both series this year with a “55% sustainable” fuel that could be used in the existing Mechachrome engines. The Saudi company was already working with Formula 1 on its sustainable fuel ambitions, and together they had said they targeted use of DAC in F1 for when it bans fossil fuels in 2026.

However practicial limitations with the emerging technology, which pulls carbon directly from the atmosphere, made it impossible to be totally dependant on that technique for 2023 as 300,000 litres of fuel are needed for the 52 cars racing in F2 and F3. This is despite the two series’ promoter Bruno Michel indicating last year they could rely on DAC straight away over other sustainable fuel production methods.

In a recent media call, F2’s technical director Didier Perrin explained how the two series will scale up from 55% to 100% sustainable fuel over five years.

“F1 will open in 2026 the possibility for teams to explore all the possibilities of sustainable fuels, with all [sustainable] means of obtaining the carbon that is needed. We have decided with Aramco to promote something a little bit more extreme,” he said.

“It’s a bit easier for us because as we are a single-make championship, we can impose the type of fuel that we want to all of the teams. So we’ve decided to target in 2027 to go not only [100%] sustainable, but sustainable with carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere.”

Perrin describes this as “a step forward, a little bit more ambitious” as “today this kind of technology is more or less limited to laboratory quantities” and not possible at an industrial scale.

“Aramco is putting a massive effort in this technology, and we will be the first one [in motorsport] to take the benefit of the production quantities that will become at a higher level from 2024, 2025. This is the reason why we build up a plan in three steps to reach in 2027 the sustainable fuel with DAC.”

The first step is this year’s “55% biofuel sustainable fuel”, and “we will replace these 55% of sustainable bio-sourced fuel by 55% of sustainable fuel made with DAC” in 2025.

“In 2027, we will try to make the fuel, I cannot say 100%, but maximise the use of sustainable fuel with DAC. Almost 100%, and this will be a worldwide achievement. This is a very ambitious target, and this is a reason why we are working from this year to reach that target.”

He added: “If we prove that it could be as well a drop-in fuel for the kind of engine that we are using in F2 and F3, it will be a very good demonstration that it could also be a drop-in technology for road cars. We consider that we are the pioneers, and we are impatient to do that and we want really to demonstrate that it’s doable and doable rapidly.”