Mercedes believes Formula 1’s advances in hybrid powertrain technology and lower carbon fuels will bring benefits for the development of its road cars.

Ola Källenius, chairman of the Daimler group board and head of Mercedes-Benz, said that technology developed by their High Performance Powertrain research and development division for its F1 programme would help the group move towards the Paris Accords climate change goals.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going in line with the Paris agreement step by step towards the decarbonised world,” said Källenius.

The Daimler head previously worked on Mercedes’ F1 programme early in the sport’s move towards hybrid engines.

“I was in Formula 1 when we developed the first [Kinetic Energy Recovery] system. I was running HPP in Brixworth and we were talking to innovative companies for battery technologies.

Källenius worked on Mercedes’ early F1 hybrids

“That very first hybrid system, the power of that compared to the weight, compared to what we could do with the road car side, was mindboggling. Here we are 10 years later and we have moved that on by factors and factors.”

Källenius said the competitive environment of F1 makes for an ideal inspiration for their research, which has real-world applications. “To put these technologies under the ultimate stress test and in what is a fantastic and exciting spectacle that also creates emotion around the brand is the best of both worlds, really.

“It is fascination, emotion and it is hardcore technology. We believe that pushing electrification and going beyond what we’re doing today in Formula 1 can help us on the road car side. And in fact, AMG is going to get boost hybrids across the whole fleet soon inspired by Formula 1 next to the almost crazy Project One car that we’re putting on the road next year.”

The Daimler group announced its ‘Ambition 2039’ plan in 2019, aiming to have a completely carbon neutral passenger vehicle fleet within two decades, as well as moving from oil-derived diesel to biogas-to-liquid and ultimately hydrogen in its bus and truck fleets. It then followed this with an ‘Electric First’ strategy aimed at moving towards battery electric solutions before 2030.

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Formula 1 has announced it will work on synthetic and biofuel solutions with manufacturers, giving the combustion engine a possible stay of execution. Synthetic petrol, made of hydrogen formed from water using renewably-sourced electricity and carbon reclaimed from the air, can be carbon-neutral when used in existing combustion engines.

Mercedes Project One, 2020
Mercedes’ “almost crazy” Project One hypercar

“Research into lower-carbon fuels or no-carbon fuels, synthetic fuels, will also play a role,” said Källenius. “Because even if we go electric soon – and we will have a very large part of our fleet all-electric in 2030 and beyond – there will be a car parc of hundreds of millions, a couple of billion vehicles, that we also need to work on decarbonisation.

“Formula 1 can play a role in experimenting with lower carbon fuels. So technologically, it’s very relevant. It’s not something of the past, it’s something of the future.”

Mercedes’ factory F1 team, which achieved a three-star environmental accreditation from the FIA last year, will also move towards carbon neutrality. “We’re going to turn the team into CO2 neutral, work on our logistics and do all the other things that you expect of an innovative, forward looking company that’s also on the cards,” said Källenius.

“So Mercedes is a brand of two sides: Fascination and technical substance. And that is a good description of Formula 1 as well, that’s what we think it makes sense.”

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