Electric Power – The Future of Racing

Forze
Forze VII, © TU Delft

By now, it should be glaringly obvious that times are changing: Mercedes-Benz is exiting the German Touring Car Championship and entering the Formula E in 2019, alongside Audi, BMW and Porsche. Electricity is also increasingly driving Formula 1. The fossil fuel to electric power transition is in full throttle. Technologies that used to be visions (see also Eco-marathon) are becoming reality.

August 6 saw the first-ever race of the Forze, developed by TU Delft and currently in its 7th generation (see September 2016 issue of H2-international), during the Gamma Racing Day in Assen, Netherlands. Never has a hydrogen-powered electric car (max power: 190 kW; top speed: 210 km/h or 130 mph; two electric motors) participated in this event, which used to be the domain of fossil fuelers. Actually, the Forze Hydrogen Racing Team Delft had been trying to get into the 2016 race, so they had even more reason to be happy that everything worked out this year. The result, a spot in the middle, wasn’t what really counted that day. The important thing was that they had broken new ground. “It’s been a really great experience – just incredible,” Mats Dirkzwager, the team’s manager, told motorsport.com.

The same trend can be seen for long-distance races. Jean Todt, who used to head Ferrari’s Formula 1 team and has been president of the international FIA motor sport association since 2009, announced that the World Endurance Championship would see fuel cell cars among its vehicles. As manager of this marathon of motor sport racing, Todt said, “The fuel cell is probably the decisive technology. FCVs have a range of 600 kilometers and can be filled up to the brim within three minutes.” He intends to have this technology established at the series by 2021.

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