Sebastian Vettel’s demonstration of a 1992 Williams with sustainable fuel shows how Formula 1 could consider more powerful, louder internal combustion engines in the future, reckons Red Bull Christian Horner.
Vettel drove an FW14B from Nigel Mansell’s title-winning season ahead of the British Grand Prix on Sunday.
He owns the car and drove it to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mansell’s championship victory, while using carbon-neutral fuels “to demonstrate that we can still hang onto our history and heritage, culture in motorsport and do it in a more responsible way”.
Vettel said before the demonstration that “I’m already looking forward to the sound, you will not notice the difference, and that’s the great thing”.
And afterwards the noise of the car’s Renault V10 engine was one of the most talked about elements of the run, so much so that Vettel’s old team boss Horner reckoned F1 should take this on board in discussions over future engine rules.
F1 has an increased 10% ethanol fuel this season ahead of a switch to 100% sustainable fuels in 2026, when the next generation of V6 turbo-hybrids will be introduced.
Horner’s suggestion was that sustainable fuels could be a way to pursue more aggressive combustion engines again.
“I think they need to because I think for me, listening to that engine, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” said Horner.
“And people are still go to the Rolling Stones concerts, and they’re still playing the music loud.
“I think the noise of Formula 1 is something that that is part of its DNA, it’s part of its appeal. And it shouldn’t be ignored.”
Horner thinks F1’s 2026 fuel rules will be “pioneering” and an example of how F1 “as a testbed, can do an awful lot positive things”.
But Vettel has suggested F1 could try to introduce the fuels sooner.
He said that the sound of the car made him “feel like a five-year-old again” and believes carbon-neutral fuels are a way to “showcase the emotions in a more responsible way”.
The Aston Martin driver has become increasingly vocal on environmental issues and believes the fuel F1 uses can be key to reconciling his passion for cars and racing, and his concerns about the health of the planet.
“I’m not taking decisions here, but I can obviously ask questions and the plan is to move in that direction,” he said.
“There’s pros and cons, also when you talk about synthetic fuels, how you do them, what’s the source and so on.
“But we have no time to waste, no time to wait, and obviously the introduction is planned for 2026.
“I understand that not everybody is easily agreeing on changing it sooner, but in the end that’s probably what would be the right call, to do it sooner.”