Sustainable fuels in F3: What you need to know

Sustainability has become one of the main talking points in modern-day racing, with organisers keen to find a way to keep on-track action as it is while reducing their environmental impact at the same time. After a promising debut in pre-season testing for Formula 3’s new sustainable fuel mixture, Feeder Series looks at what impact it could have on this year’s championship.

By Daniele Spadi

Formula 3, together with Formula 2, will use sustainable fuels from the 2023 season onwards. This agreement is the first step in fulfilling the wider sustainability strategy announced by the FIA, which will require every FIA championship to use 100% sustainable fuels by 2026. With Formula 3 being a key part of the FIA ecosystem, it was a no-brainer to test such an important innovation in a closely contested one-make championship with a single fuel supplier.

The new fuel mixture, which is 55% sustainable, will include bio-sourced ingredients, such as materials generated from captured and stored carbon dioxide or non-food biologically grown material. This will substantially reduce the championship’s carbon footprint. The mixture will be used until the end of 2024, when the FIA will introduce more synthetic components to further improve sustainability.

No major issues in testing

Sustainable fuels were one of the main talking points of last week’s pre-season testing sessions. The 2023-spec mixture had a tough debut on its hands, as pre-season testing often underlines the teams’ reliability issues that need to be ironed out before the season opener.

However, the new mixture’s debut was smooth and promising. Drivers clocked in lap after lap without noticing any issues, as they felt little to no difference compared to the fuel used in previous seasons.

Many team principals have expressed positive feedback for the new sustainable mixture but admitted that it is too early to fully assess its functionality and reliability. Stephanie Carlin mentioned that the team took some precautions during the first few days of testing but that the first impression was indeed a good one. This was a sentiment shared by Prema’s team principal René Rosin, who did not report any issues with the new fuel specification.

Challenges ahead

Although reliability is the primary focus while working towards the season opener in Bahrain, there are other important parameters that the teams are also focusing on, such as fuel consumption. As the introduction of the new fuel mixture creates a new challenge for each and every team, understanding how much fuel the F2 cars will burn over the course of a race will be key to have a small, yet useful advantage early in the season.

As pre-season testing has taken place on the same track where the opening two races of the season will be held, the teams will already have some data going into Round 1, which could level their knowledge and understanding of the new mixture. However, as the championship goes on, developing that knowledge and applying it to other tracks and conditions will be key – especially with new tracks like Australia and Monaco on the calendar.

With Round 1 being only one week away, the teams who managed to maximise track time during pre-season testing could have a slight advantage in understanding how the sustainable fuel will affect the rest of the cars’ systems and components. However, with only three days of pre-season testing, teams will still have a lot to learn about the new fuel mixture over the course of the 2023 season. This new variable adds another dimension to the 2023 FIA Formula 3 Championship, which is set to make the series even more exciting.

Header photo credit: Trident Motorsport


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