F1 hints at bold new engine formula in push to become carbon neutral

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Formula 1 may have offered a hint at the next big change in engine design as part of the push to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The sport switched to the current V6 hybrid units back in 2014 and moved away from making major alterations next year after failing to convince any new manufacturers onto the grid.

It is expected F1 will overhaul the regulations around 2026 and a dramatic shift to two-stroke hybrid engines appears a likely possibility.

"I’m very keen on it being a two-stroke,” said F1's chief technical officer Pat Symonds was quoted by Motorsport Magazine as telling the Motorsport Industry Association’s energy-efficient motorsport conference.

"Much more efficient, great sound from the exhaust and a lot of the problems with the old two strokes are just not relevant any more."

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While many will instantly be fearing F1 is on course to be powered by a supped up motorbike engine, the former Renault chief believed they could be the next big trend.

"It’s reasonably obvious that if you are going to pump that piston up and down, you might as well get work out of it every time the piston comes down rather than every other time the piston comes down," he said.

"The opposed-piston engine is very much coming back and already in road car form at around 50 per cent efficiency.

"Direct injection, pressure charging, and new ignition systems have all allowed new forms of two-stroke engines to be very efficient and very emission-friendly. I think there’s a good future for them."

Also as part of the effort to reduce emissions, a new synthetic fuel made by mixing carbon with hydrogen captured from the air would be developed which could also be used to power the planes that transport F1 around the world and make up for the majority of the sport's carbon footprint.

This shift, according to the presentation, would make F1 more environmentally friendly than Formula E because the emissions caused in developing the batteries are around double what it takes to make a hybrid engine, it was claimed.

And the sport is prepared to be patient in creating the next power unit simply due to the advances being made in technology.

"We need to look at what our future power units will look like," said Symonds. "At F1 this is what we are engaged in at the moment.

"It might be that the next power unit we produce is the last one we do with liquid hydrocarbons. I think there’s a very high chance that there might still be an internal combustion engine but maybe it’s running on hydrogen.

"I certainly think that the internal combustion engine has a long future and I think it has a future that’s longer than a lot of politicians realise because politicians are hanging everything on electric vehicles," he added.

"There’s nothing wrong with electric vehicles but there are reasons why they are not the solution for everyone."