Formula 1 Race Cars Are More Energy Efficient Than an EV

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

There’s a reason why motorsports is so important in the development of next-generation automotive technologies.

One would think a Formula 1 race car wouldn’t be the most efficient car in the world, considering they’re built to go as fast as possible. But the automotive world is changing, and believe it or not, the Mercedes W07 Hybrid Formula 1 race car is actually more energy efficient than your average electric vehicle on the road. According to a recent report, the thermal efficiency of Mercedes’ class-leading hybrid Formula 1 engine is over 45 percent and there’s a possibility it will reach 50 percent within the next couple of seasons.

But wait, that doesn’t really mean it’s more energy efficient than an electric vehicle does it? Well, it depends on how you look at it.

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Formula 1 editor at ESPN, Laurence Edmonson, makes the argument that a Formula 1 car is greener since in the U.S., “at least 66 percent of electricity comes from coal- and oil-fired energy stations, with just 13 percent coming from renewables.” With coal and oil power stations having a thermal efficiency of around 33 percent, the power used to drive an electric car is likely coming from a less efficient source compared to a Formula 1 engine.

“Electric cars are seen as green and the solution to all carbon emissions, but they are absolutely not,” Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe told ESPN. “It all depends where you get the electricity from and in a typical country with a regular profile of electricity generation, a Formula One car is massively more efficient than any electric car being charged from a power plant which is burning hydrocarbons. It is incredible that we’ve done that, but nobody is really talking about it that much.”

Although it’s hardly comparing apples to apples, the big takeaway here is that Formula 1 race cars help push the development of energy-efficient technologies that eventually find their way into production vehicles.

[Source: ESPN]

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Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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