Motorsport is investing in hydrogen – Formula 1 is betting on hydrogen cars, and the first Gaussin hydrogen truck started in the Dakar


We have been talking about the possibilities of using hydrogen in all areas of our daily lives for a long time now. Interestingly, representatives of international sports are also more and more willing to use it. Hydrogen was already present at last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, where it was used to power the torch relay, the Olympic torch, buses, and cars serving the event, as well as the entire Olympic village. The “fuel of the future” is now being used in other sports, this time in motorsports.

Formula 1 will power the cars with hydrogen fuel

The use of hydrogen by the Queen of Motorsport was already talked about in 2017. At the time, Jean Todt, president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), stressed the need to move away from V10 and V12 engines in Formula 1 races, with the main reason behind the decision being the growing public awareness of ecology and the impact of racing on pollution levels. And while this remains relatively small compared to other more challenging areas, the widely proclaimed goals of achieving net-zero also fell to Formula 1, where unnecessary pollution is set to become a thing of the past. Since then, the possibility of replacing old engines with their hydrogen-fuelled counterparts has been openly discussed.

However, achieving emissions reduction in motorsports is not easy. Mainly due to the spectators, who associate the unique atmosphere of the sport with, among other things, the distinctive sound of the cars. For this reason, plans for vehicle electrification are being put on the back burner. Electric motors (BEV) work too quietly to provide the desired noise of powerful combustion engines.

Hydrogen is supposed to be the solution. But not in terms of introducing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs) into F1, but by burning hydrogen in the cylinders. Thanks to the development and use of internal combustion engines adapted to hydrogen fuel, it will be possible to maintain the current operation of the machines and at the same time achieve a reduction in the level of generated emissions. The next change in the technical regulations of Formula 1 is to take place in 2026. Will this be the moment when hydrogen engines make their debut? There are many indications. The more so as the representatives of the automotive corporations participating in F1 emphasize that motorsport cannot remain detached from the revolution that is to take place in the coming years in the entire transport sector.

Gaussin truck – the first hydrogen vehicle in the Dakar

Other manufacturers are also thinking along similar lines. Including the French manufacturer of zero-emission vehicles Gaussin, which in early 2021 announced that it will enter the next rally with the first hydrogen truck in the race’s history.

The famous rally, which was originally held in Europe and Africa, has been located in Saudi Arabia for the past three editions. The goal set by its organizers is to move towards more ecological solutions and “green” vehicles. According to the goals, by 2030 all cars participating in the race should be low- and zero-emission and the implementation of new solutions were expected to begin in 2025.

Gaussin, however, is ahead of the above targets. In last year’s edition, the company acted as a partner. This year’s, which ended on January 14, with its own finished hydrogen vehicle. It is the first alternative fuel vehicle in the Dakar Rally. Its basis is the smart, modular “skateboard” chassis characteristic of Gaussin products, in which the entire electric and hydrogen drive system are hidden. According to the media, the truck could carry around 80 kg of hydrogen at a time, which would not be enough to cover the full route of the rally. That’s why the company partnered with giant Aramco, which ensured that mobile hydrogen refueling points were placed along the route.

The manufacturer’s commitment and its promise to provide clean solutions for Dakar’s energy transition is a big step forward to achieving zero emissions in the competition and the rest of motorsport. We are already curious to see what will change next in this area and keep our fingers crossed for a fast and efficient implementation of green solutions, which are the future!

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