Formula One (F1), the International Automobile Federation (FIA), and the newly rebranded Extreme H series have announced the establishment of a joint hydrogen working group. This strategic move aims to explore and evaluate the potential integration of hydrogen technology into the realm of motorsport, marking a pivotal moment in the evolution of racing technology.
Extreme H, the revamped version of the existing Extreme E electric off-road series, is charting a course towards hydrogen-powered racing, set to materialize by 2025. Launched in 2021, Extreme E already boasts teams owned by F1 luminaries such as Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, and McLaren. The series, featuring identical SUVs and a commitment to gender equality with both male and female drivers, is poised to spearhead the adoption of hydrogen in motorsport.
The iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans, a cornerstone of the world endurance championship, will introduce a hydrogen category from 2026. This forward-looking initiative will witness cars utilizing either fuel cell technology or combustion engines running on hydrogen. With aspirations to have the entire top category powered by hydrogen by 2030, Le Mans positions itself as a historic proving ground for cutting-edge technology and eco-friendly innovation.
Formula One, an emblem of speed and innovation, is making strides toward a sustainable future. Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds affirms the commitment to using 100% sustainable fuel from 2026, with an overarching goal of achieving net-zero status as a sport by 2030. F1’s embrace of hydrogen aligns with its tradition of bringing new technologies to the public forefront rapidly.
The newly formed Hydrogen Working Group will comprise representatives from F1, FIA, and Extreme H, including technical experts such as Mark Grain, Extreme E’s Technical Director. The group’s mandate encompasses monitoring the progression of hydrogen technology for fuel cells and battery systems, evaluating infrastructure elements such as transportation, charging, storage, and management, and addressing safety implications.
Extreme H organizers plan to conduct a full-speed shakedown of a prototype hydrogen-powered chassis later this month, marking a crucial milestone in the transition to hydrogen propulsion. A comprehensive testing program is slated for early 2024. The series, set to become an FIA World Championship from 2026, positions itself as a testbed for hydrogen technology, not only in racing cars but also in transportation, infrastructure, refueling processes, and safety regulations.