Japanese open-wheel championship Super Formula unveiled a new carbon-neutral car Tuesday, looking ahead to the series’ 50th anniversary season in 2023 — part of the SF Next 50 initiative to drive motorsports toward a more sustainable future.

The Dallara SF23, set for its competition debut in the first round of the championship at Fuji Speedway in April, has bodywork comprised of bio-composite material thanks to a partnership with Swiss-based composites specialists Bcomp.

The manufacturer stated in a press release that, “Carbon fiber bodywork is used extensively throughout the motorsport industry and is responsible for a substantial carbon footprint. Many of the carbon fiber parts used in racing end up in landfill when damaged in a race or no longer needed. Bcomp’s innovative “ampliTex” and “powerRibs” composite technologies are made from flax fiber and offer a promising solution and have already extensively proven their performance across the board in motorsports series from F1 to Formula E, Extreme E, DTM and GT4 on Porsche, Mercedes Benz-AMG and BMW M GT cars.

“With low density and excellent mechanical properties, flax fibers are a significantly more sustainable option for developing high-performance composites. The unique combination of ‘ampliTex’ flax fabrics with the patented ‘powerRibs’ reinforcement grid allows this natural fiber composite solution to match the low weight and high stiffness of carbon fiber bodywork parts in a drastically more sustainable package.

“Analysis conducted in past projects showed that Bcomp’s high-performance natural fiber composites enable a reduction of 90 percent in material CO2 emissions when compared to carbon fiber parts as well as an over 80 percent reduction of CO2 emissions from cradle to gate, considering all production steps from raw material to the final part.

“Introducing ‘ampliTex’ and ‘powerRibs’ flax fiber composites into the SF23 bodywork also introduces safer crash behavior thanks to the absence of dangerously sharp debris and edges. Additionally, flax fiber-based composites come with a viable end-of-life solution that eliminates the need to landfill damaged or old bodywork.”

Bcomp said the material “performed well in the initial tests but it seemed more appropriate to create hybrid parts for the implementation in the SF23. A construction with about 70 percent flax and only 30 percent carbon fiber for local reinforcements proved to be an ideal combination of each material’s benefits while still significantly reducing the carbon footprint. This innovative collaboration has been recognized already across the motorsport community, including most recently being nominated as a finalist for this year’s World Motorsport Symposium Green Tech Award.”

Yokohama has also joined the sustainability drive, creating a new dry slick tire for Super Formula using natural compounding agents and recycled materials for one-third of the tire’s construction.

Testing of the SF23 and Yokohama tires took place throughout 2022, totaling in excess of 10,000km. The final two sessions at Suzuka and Motegi were used to test and develop the car’s new aero kit, designed to give closer racing and an overall improved on-track product.

The off-track product also stands to take a leap forward with Super Formula’s new digital platform SFgo.

Set to debut in mid-January, the app will give fans access to live race feeds, onboard cameras, team radios, telemetry, and real-time GPS tracking of their favorite drivers on track. The app itself is free, with a fee-based subscription service to launch during the opening round at Fuji for the video portion. Consequently, Super Formula’s current subscription-based YouTube service will transition to free content as SFgo is brought online.

Super Formula says the goal for the app is to “create a community platform for motorsports fans, where fans will be able to also edit their own videos and disseminate them…and in the future…create new content linked to ‘WEB 3.0’ such as NFTs and the Metaverse.

“Fans will be able to enjoy watching archived videos of past top formulas, including F3000 and Formula Nippon, reading social networking and news of teams and drivers, and purchasing tickets and goods all as part of the platform’s free content.”

2023 Super Formula schedule:

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1April 8 (Sat)Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Pref.)
* Two-race weekend
2April 9 (Sun)
3April 22 (Sat) & 23 (Sun)Suzuka Circuit (Mie Pref.)
*In conjunction with the JSB1000 series motorcycle race
4May 20 (Sat) & 21 (Sun)Autopolis International Racing Course (Oita Pref.)
5June 17 (Sat) & 18 (Sun)Sportsland Sugo (Miyagi Pref.)
6July 15 (Sat) & 16 (Sun)Fuji Speedway (Shizuoka Pref.)
7August 19 (Sat) & 20 (Sun)Mobility Resort Motegi (Tochigi Pref.)
*In conjunction with the JSB1000 series motorcycle race
8October 28 (Sat)Suzuka Circuit (Mie Pref.)
*Two-race weekend