Motor racing-Formula One, FIA and Extreme H set up hydrogen working group

FILE PHOTO: A hydrogen pump is seen at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One, governing FIA and a rebranded Extreme H series announced on Thursday they were setting up a joint hydrogen working group to evaluate the technology's future use in motorsport.

Extreme H will be the new name of the existing Extreme E electric off-road series which plans to switch to hydrogen from 2025.

The series, which launched in 2021 with identical SUVs and male and female drivers in every lineup, features teams owned by Formula One champions Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg as well as another owned by McLaren.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the jewel in the crown of the world endurance championship, will have a new hydrogen category from 2026 with cars either using fuel cell technology or combustion engines running on hydrogen.

Le Mans, an historic proving ground for manufacturers and innovative technology, aims to have the entire top category powered by hydrogen from 2030.

"Our sport has a tradition of bringing new technologies to the forefront of public perception in incredibly short timescales," said Formula One's chief technical officer Pat Symonds in a statement.

"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."

Formula One is due to use 100% sustainable fuel from 2026 and plans to be net zero as a sport by 2030.

The new working group will feature representatives of all three organisations including Extreme E technical director Mark Grain, Symonds and FIA single seater director Nikolas Tombazis.

It aims to monitor the progression and development of hydrogen technology for fuel cells and battery systems as well as infrastructure, transportation, charging, storage and management, and the safety implications.

Extreme H organisers plan to hold a first full-speed shakedown of a prototype hydrogen-powered chassis this month with a full testing programme in early 2024.

Extreme E said it would become an FIA championship, as Extreme H, from its inaugural 2025 season with the intention of becoming an FIA World Championship from 2026.

The FIA will be responsible for Extreme H's technical, sporting and safety regulations.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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