Monday, March 4, 2024

Extreme H, F1, FIA create Hydrogen Working Group

Ahead of its début season in 2025, Extreme H has partnered with the FIA and Formula One to create the Hydrogen Working Group. The joint project intends to oversee the development of hydrogen batteries and fuel cells that will be used in Extreme H cars, as well as other hydrogen-based applications in the paddock.

Personnel from all three parties will be involved with leadership by Mark Grain, Pat Symonds, and Nikolas Tombazis. Grain was named Extreme E’s technical director in June, coming over after nearly three decades at McLaren including overseeing their XE programme. Symonds was previously the chief technical officer for Williams Racing and currently serves the same post in F1. Tombazis has a long history as an aerodynamicist for F1 teams like Ferrari and McLaren before becoming the FIA’s single-seater director in 2023.

“It’s a privilege to be working alongside Formula 1 and the FIA as we continue to develop our world-first hydrogen racing proposition,” said Grain. “Our transition to Extreme H makes us the pioneers and first-ever testbed of hydrogen technology in motorsport, not only in our racing cars, but also transportation, infrastructure, refuelling processes and safety regulations. It’s a ground-breaking initiative and we look forward to collaborating with Formula One and Pat both technically and operationally, as we continue to champion new technologies and break boundaries on behalf of motorsport, with hydrogen at the forefront.”

Extreme H is designed as the sister series to Extreme E, the latter an electric off-road racing series that began racing in 2021 and recently concluded its third season. Both series were created by Alejandro Agag, the boss of fellow electric championship Formula E.

Unveiled before the 2022 XE season, the series was originally slated for its inaugural year in 2024 before being pushed back a year. The FIA plans to award it with World Championship status in 2026 should the 2025 season goes as planned, a designation shared by F1 and FE. XE, on the other hand, is still an FIA International Series but hopes to qualify for promotion to World Championship in 2024.

“Our sport has a tradition of bringing new technologies to the forefront of public perception in incredibly short timescales,” Symonds commented. “We do this by being open-minded to all solutions and embracing cross-functional engineering. With climate change mitigation at the forefront of everyone’s mind we are committed to promoting sustainability and therefore need to explore all areas of decarbonisation of the mobility sector. This must include sustainable liquid hydrocarbon fuels, electrification and hydrogen. This Working Group enables a collaboration which will allow us to gain first-hand experience and contribute to the understanding and development of the many aspects of hydrogen propulsion that Extreme H will embrace.”

Hydrogen has become a growing popular alternative to traditional fuel and even electric power. While Extreme H is slated to be the first major all-hydrogen racing series, it has already seen use by individual vehicles in disciplines ranging from sports cars to other off-road vehicles.

For the 2024 Dakar Rally, a race that has a history with Extreme E, organisers have introduced a Mission 1000 category intended to let vehicles with these technologies test themselves in a desert environment. The cars taking part—Rainbow Truck Team’s Volkswagen Amarok and the Japanese HySE-X1—run on hydrogen while KH-7 Epsilon Team’s MAN truck uses a blend of hydrogen and hydrotreated vegetable oil.

“As the governing body for both the FIA Formula One World Championship and the upcoming FIA Extreme H Championship in 2025, we welcome this latest collaboration,” Tombazis stated. “The FIA Technical Department has experience and knowhow in the area of hydrogen technology which we will be bring to the Working Group along with sporting, safety and regulatory expertise. As is currently the case across the entire FIA motorsport portfolio, we will take learnings from this collaboration for the benefit of our sport and mobility.”