Sustainable Racing Is 'The Way Forward’ For Young Drivers

Sustainable Racing Is 'The Way Forward’ For Young Drivers

Motorsport has always been a sport of excess. Excessive money spent on development, excessive fuel burned over the course of a race weekend and even an excessive amount of Champagne sprayed all over the place. Now, there’s a wave of young drivers rising through the ranks that are less interested in all that and are instead on the lookout for series that are working to secure a “better future” for race fans.

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Slowly but surely, series such as Formula 1 and World Rally are working to clean up their act. Formula 1 has had hybrid power units since 2014 and the Rally1 regulations brought hybrid tech to WRC in 2022. While legacy series such as these have been slow on the uptake, fledgling race programs including single-seater series Formula E and off-road racing Extreme E have gone all-in on sustainability since their launch.

“Sustainable racing is the way forward for new championships and for technological development,” says Patrick O’Donovan, championship driver in Extreme E.

Young drivers like Patrick O’Donovan see sustainability as the “way forward.” Photo: Extreme E

O’Donovan, 19, joined Extreme E as the series’ championship driver back in July. In his role with the sport, he acts as a reserve driver for any team that calls for him and works with race organizers to help set the circuit at each event.

“I really just want to be out there on course,” O’Donovan says. “But, for the time being, I’m in quite a nice position.”

It’s a position that O’Donovan thinks racers he’s risen through the ranks with would “give a right arm to be in.” And while that might be because it’s “quite a nurturing home,” O’Donovan says it’s also because younger racers are looking to sustainable sport as the future of motorsport.

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“The younger generation is more open minded,” says O’Donovan. “They look towards sustainable motorsport and sporting solutions. So I think this is a no brainer really. It’s the most exciting form of motorsport out there.”

A photo of Andretti driver Timmy Hansen in fireman gear.

Extreme E’s legacy projects strive to leave a positive impact everywhere it races. Photo: Extreme E

Since its launch in 2021, Extreme E has run electric off-road races in remote locations around the world. Each race strives to have as little impact on the environment as possible by using solar cells to power on-site infrastructure and the St Helena ship dramatically cutting emissions from freight.

Additionally, Extreme E hosts legacy projects around each race to try and give something back to the local area. In Sardinia last month, this saw drivers learn about the people fighting forest fires in the region.

However, O’Donovan is aware that aspects of racing such as this aren’t of interest to every race fan and a quick glance into the comments section on any of our posts about Extreme E or Formula E will show that. Despite this, he remains convinced that sustainable series are “making a positive impact for the world.”

A photo of Extreme E championship driver Patrick O'Donovan.

‘We have to be embracing the change,’ says Patrick O’Donovan.Photo: Extreme E

“Some of the older people don’t always understand it, but it’s the way the world is going and we have to be embracing the change,” he says. “It’s really a foot forward for development and the increase in technology.