Editor's Letter

Author

Joe Dunn

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

148

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

157

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

The general election season brings to mind my favourite government resignation letter of all time. It was addressed to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and read:

Dear Gordon,

As you know I have a passion for motor racing and over the past year have competed in the British GT Championship racing a unique bio-ethanol-fuelled race car, achieving a “historic first” win for a green-fuelled car and coming second overall in the championship.

A number of special circumstances have now presented me with a once in a lifetime opportunity to take my racing to the next level. I have the opportunity to race next year in the American Le Mans Series in the United States, a key step towards my eventual dream of success in the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race.

For the first time next year the American Le Mans Series will allow bio-ethanol cars and so this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase British motor sport technology for environmentally friendly racing.

It has also coincided with my development as a driver to the point where I am now able to compete at this level. Unfortunately, it cannot be combined with the challenge of full-time government office so I am writing to inform you that I wish to take a leave of absence from the government. Thank you for your support and understanding…

I like this letter from Paul Drayson, then the minister for defence equipment and support, for several reasons. Mainly, I love the fact that a government minister has seen the light and realised that there is a higher calling than mere governing. But I also like the self-effacing note about now being good enough to compete (as if the Prime Minister would really care about his departing defense procurement minister’s driver development).

I remember covering his resignation at the time. Many people were perplexed not only about his love of motor racing, but also about the concept of green motor sport. Surely the very idea was an oxymoron? Nonetheless he and his ethanol-powered Aston Martin did indeed take part in the 2009 Le Mans with Jonny Cocker and Marino Franchitti sharing with Drayson (an electrical fault ended his race 21 hours in).

The idea of green motor sport may have been relatively new back in 2007 when Drayson resigned, but it hasn’t gone away. Famously, in 2012 came the arrival of the all-electric Formula E – which despite some dire predictions – is still going strong.

In 2009 Formula 1 introduced Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems – similar to the regenerative braking systems that were available on eco-road cars such as the Toyota Prius; and four years later went further with its hybrid V6 turbo engines. It bears repeating that these became the most efficient car engines in the world in terms of the percentage of fuel energy converted into power. This measurement – known as thermal efficiency – is around 50 per cent on F1 cars compared to 30 per cent on petrol road cars.

Some of the fuel-saving technology introduced by F1 has been in the dubious name of retaining so called ‘road relevancy’ – the increasingly fanciful idea that technology developed in the white heat of F1 competition eventually trickles down to road cars. But much of it came about because F1 bosses realised which way the winds of public opinion were blowing. From the mid-2000s onwards conspicuous consumption of CO2-producing carbon-based fuels was increasingly at odds with what people thought was right.

And now, F1 has gone further with a pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2030 and a plan to make all grands prix sustainable by 2025. In a carefully choreographed announcement, it claimed it will “move to ultra-efficient logistics and travel and 100 per cent renewably powered offices, facilities and factories” and offset emissions that cannot be cut.

It will also eliminate single-use plastics and ensure all waste is reused, recycled or composted during race weekends. The targets will not be easily met for a sport which produces 256,000 tons of CO2 each season, transporting 10 teams and equipment to the current 21 races, but the sport should be applauded for trying.

The big question is how does F1 constrain the monstrous hospitality areas, trailers, trucks and motorhomes when 45 per cent of its emissions come from moving this equipment around the world, and a further 27.7 per cent from transporting staff? Should the sport look at introducing a limit to team sizes that travel to grands prix? And if not, is all this cutting compatible with sponsor demands and the prospect of a 25-race season? Time will tell.

More immediately the changes will make the fuel used in F1 more sustainable. From 2021, the rules will demand that fuel has a biofuel content of at least 20 per cent. Not quite the bio-ethanol that Paul Drayson pioneered in racing, but not a bad start for F1.

Joe Dunn, editor
Follow Joe on Twitter @joedunn90

You may also like

Related products