Sebastian Vettel, the legendary four-time Formula One World Champion, may have retired from professional racing, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting behind the wheel. This year, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Vettel will be showcasing the potential of fossil-free synthetic fuel by driving his personal F1 cars, including Nigel Mansell’s 1992 title-winning Williams Renault and Ayrton Senna’s 1993 Monaco Grand Prix-winning McLaren Ford.
What makes this demonstration even more impressive is that these iconic cars require no modifications to their V10 and V8 engines to run on the sustainable fuel provided by P1 Fuels. Vettel will take both cars for a spin up the festival’s famous hill course over the weekend, proving the practicality and viability of synthetic fuel.
This event comes at a time when more and more automakers are exploring the potential of synthetic fuel. Porsche, for example, began producing synthetic fuel at a plant in Chile last year. The automaker’s aim is to create nearly carbon-neutral fuel, and they have already used it in a 911. However, despite plans to increase production, it is unlikely to replace our daily consumption of fossil fuels anytime soon.
Stellantis, the multinational automotive manufacturing company formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Groupe PSA, has also joined the race in testing synthetic fuels. The company is evaluating various engine families to assess how synthetic fuel affects emissions, power, reliability, and other engine parameters.
The European Union has also shown support for synthetic fuels by voting to allow the sale of new cars that can run on these fuels. However, there are still certain requirements that automakers must meet before implementing this technology on a larger scale.
While synthetic e-fuels offer the potential for reducing CO2 emissions, they do come with limitations. Creating synthetic fuels requires a considerable amount of energy, which limits their effectiveness in terms of reducing overall emissions. Toyota CEO Koji Sato believes that this is a hurdle that needs to be overcome before the technology is ready for mainstream usage.
To address this issue, Porsche’s production facility is strategically located in southern Chile, where the strong breeze allows the plant’s wind turbines to operate at full capacity. This renewable energy powers the energy-intensive production process, making it more sustainable.
Not everyone is convinced of the benefits of synthetic fuel, though. Volkswagen brand boss Thomas Schäfer has criticized the technology, referring to it as “unnecessary noise.”
Sebastian Vettel’s illustrious F1 career began in 2007, and he quickly made a name for himself by winning his first Grand Prix for Toro Rosso in 2008. He went on to win his first World Championship for Red Bull in 2010, eventually accumulating a total of four titles. Throughout his 16-year career, Vettel achieved an impressive 53 Grand Prix wins before retiring in December of last year.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed will serve as a platform for Vettel to showcase the potential of synthetic fuel and the exciting possibilities it holds for the future of automotive technology. As more and more automakers and companies delve into synthetic fuel research, it remains to be seen how this alternative fuel source will shape the industry moving forward.