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Sustainable Motorsport 2030 at the World Motorsport Symposium

17 January 2023

A PROBLEM shared is a problem halved, runs the old adage. If that holds true, a lot of relieved people emerged from last month’s Race Tech World Motorsport Symposium.

Back after a two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, the WMS again underlined its priceless ability to act as a forum for debating the challenges faced and solutions sought by the industry.

The theme for WMS 2022 was ‘Sustainable Motorsport 2030 – From Race to Road’. “Racing is the fast track to the adoption of advanced technologies on the road but the path from race to road is only open if knowledge is shared,” stressed Formula 1 Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds, co-chairman of the event with former Audi engine guru Dr Ulrich Baretzky.“The World Motorsport Symposium provides the ideal forum for open discussion and the dissemination of that knowledge,” he continued. “This ensures that technologies that can contribute to subjects such as safety and sustainability become more accessible.”

In order to facilitate that exchange of information, the WMS again operated under ‘Chatham House’ rules whereby: ‘Participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.’ Across the years, this framework has proved a vital part of the Symposium’s appeal. “It is the only event in the world of motorsport where you can exchange honest opinions without the threat of being reported in a newspaper and finding yourself called in front of your boss on Monday morning!” suggested Baretzky.

This year’s event was hosted by the Embassy for Switzerland, in the heart of London. The venue proved ideal and also very appropriate: Switzerland has just lifted its nearly 70-year ban on motorsport events, dating back to the aftermath of the tragic accident at Le Mans in 1955. With Audi entering Formula 1 with the Hinwil-based Sauber, Switzerland is very much in the news at the moment. Away from the glare of the spotlight, though, it has long been developing a thriving motorsport ecosystem whose companies are helping shape the future direction of the sport. Many were in attendance both at the WMS and its networking awards dinner, held at the world-famous Mosimann’s Club.

The UK's deputy Swiss Ambassador to the UK, Chantal Moser
WMS Chairmen, (l-r) F1's Pat Symonds and Ulrich Baretzky

Europe’s energy transition

John Cooper, Director General at Fuels Europeand Concawe, set the tone for the event with a fascinating presentation on motorsport’s role in Europe’s energy transition. The figures he revealed prompted pause for thought, as did his assertion that: “Every internal combustion engine being climate neutral is not a fantasy.”

The WMS retained its popular format of presentations interspersed with ‘Cabinet’ sessions, where panels debated subjects and took questions. The experts discussing sustainable fuels raised the point that, if even a small percentage of the planet’s existing ICE infrastructure was to adopt this technology, it would represent a potentially huge impact in the battle against the climate crisis. With Electric Vehicles such a hot theme, Professor David Greenwood’s presentation on battery technology was eagerly-anticipated – and didn’t disappoint. He delivered an enlightening assessment, bringing the audience up to speed with the latest advances. Among other things, he raised the issue of whether charge anxiety has begun to replace range anxiety, and highlighted the increasing focus on the end-of-life scenarios for batteries.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine adding momentum to the move away from oil and gas, the role of hydrogen – which, it didn’t escape notice, could be used for heating – was a recurrent theme throughout this Symposium. Enter, stage left, presentations on the Le Mans-organising ACO’s sustainable and hydrogen strategy by Bernard Niclot, Head of Hydrogen project at ACO, and Thierry Bouvet, Competition Director, ACO…

To read the full article download the latest issue of RACE TECH February 267 here.

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