The UK’s motorsport industry is uniquely placed to take the opportunities presented by developing green motoring technologies, according to a government minister.
And he says the country’s existing achievements in the sport, highlighted by Brawn GP’s and Jenson Button’s capture of the Formula One drivers’ and constructors’ titles, are a result of science, engineering and technology that will provide the mainstream motoring innovations of the future.
Lord Drayson, the UK’s Le Mans-racing Minister of State for Science and Innovation, who is also co-owner of the Drayson Racing sportscar team, was speaking at The World Motorsport Symposium, held by Race Tech Magazine at Oxford Brookes University.
He told attendees: “We’re not going to bring about a radical transformation in human behaviour – and that’s what we need – by pedalling doom. Guilt is unreliable as a motivating force. So is bullying.
“We have to offer people a practical, accessible, attractive low-carbon future – one which offers solutions built on sound science and creative engineering. Change must feel exciting and straightforward.
“People need persuading that their quality of life can actually improve, not decline – which is why I’ve not got much time for the hair-shirt environmentalists. That’s where motor racing comes in, and it’s contribution can be twofold.
“First, it has an exceptionally talented workforce with an unrivalled track record on innovation. Second, if I’m right in thinking that – with climate change – it’s not the technological solutions that actually represent the greatest challenge but public attitudes, then motorsport has the considerable advantage of being extremely cool.”
He added that racing cars had the ability to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve high performance by going green in a way that makes people sit up and take notice.
“So I’m not advocating that you increase your focus on green tech out of altruism. I’m advocating that focus because it can make you rich.
“The push to decarbonise will be a major driver of growth over the next decade and beyond. The global opportunities here are enormous.”
An example of how this is already happening is provided by the Williams F1 team. Through a subsidiary, Williams Hybrid Power Ltd, it is working to bring energy recovery systems similar to Formula One’s KERS system to mainstream motoring. Read more here.
• During the event Loic Bigois Brawn GP’s head of aerodynamics, was presented with the 2009 Dino Toso Racecar Aerodynamicist of the Year Award.
Toso was a former Director of Aerodynamics at Renault, where he worked until June 2008, two months before his death from cancer at the age of 39. His career in Formula One had spanned more than a decade and several teams.
Bigois said: “I am very proud to accept this award on behalf of Brawn GP’s Aerodynamic Department. I am particularly happy as it is the Dino Toso Award and I appreciated Dino very much.
“I would just like to make a wish. The organisers should change the name of this award for next year from Aerodynamicist of the Year to Aerodynamic Department of the Year. The result comes from team work, from a complete department and not from only one individual.
“2009 was successful for us but was also very tough. In the same week in March, we achieved an outstanding one-two result in Melbourne and went through the redundancy process at the factory.
“In fact it was quite difficult to enjoy our success at the time and I want to dedicate this Award to the complete aero department; to the people who are still here and those who left in March or returned to Honda in Japan. Many thanks to them all for their contribution.”
Brawn GP said that an independent panel of specialists decided on the recipients of the three awards presented which included Racing Engine Designer 2009, Racecar Aerodynamicist 2009 and Most Innovative New Motorsport Product 2009.