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As the fight against climate change ramps up, owners of classic cars may find themselves sitting rather uncomfortably. Could sustainable fuels could be the answer?

Hopes that the historic vehicle community can continue to enjoy combustion-powered vehicles in future have been boosted with the news that Formula 1 is planning to run on 100 per cent sustainable fuel from 2025, which it later envisions becoming available for mainstream use.

The championship will introduce a new internal combustion power unit to replace the current 1.6-litre hybrid V6 units by the middle of the decade, and wants them to run on fully sustainable fuel to help Formula 1 achieve its goal of being Net Zero Carbon by 2030. Crucially, the fuel will be ‘drop-in’, meaning that engines require no specific modifications in order to be compatible, while also matching the energy density of today’s high-octane racing fuels.

F1 says the fuels will be laboratory created using advanced component that comes from a renewable source – either a carbon capture scheme, harvested from food or agricultural waste, or generated by algae. These fuels will initially be created on a small scale in a pilot plant to develop the methods that will then be suitable for mass production.

Most importantly, they will achieve greenhouse gas emissions savings relative to fossil-derived petrol of at least 65 per cent. And while burning sustainable fuels does still release carbon dioxide as a by-product, the processes used are devised to offset this, meaning there is no net carbon dioxide emitted. “We’re not producing any CO2 that is not already in the atmosphere at the moment; we’re taking it out of the atmosphere, we’re using it, and we’re putting it back in the atmosphere,” explained F1 Chief Technical Officer, Pat Symonds.

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