Formula 1 aims to reach zero carbon emissions by 2030

Formula 1, the world’s most important auto racing championship, has decided to turn the page and aim for carbon neutrality with the support of its teams, drivers and the whole racing circus.

It’s time for a change in Formula 1. From being a sport with a considerable environmental footprint (remember the V12 engine?) characterised by its opulence, to one aiming to reach net zero carbon emissions. The announcement was made on 12 November by Chase Carey, president and CEO of the Formula One Group, which will strive to make all the its cars, activities and events achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The plan was revealed after a twelve-months collaboration with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and experts in the field of sustainability, as well as F1 teams and sponsors.

formula 1 zero emissions carbon neutral 2030
By 2030, all F1 cars, activities and events will be carbon neutral © Mark Thompson/Getty Images

How Formula 1 will reduce its emissions

The motorsport has always been a lab for innovation. Throughout the years, the entire industry has benefited from new technologies coming out of Formula 1. Among these, aerodynamic inventions, safety developments, energy recovery systems and navigation tools. Formula 1’s composite materials have been adopted by many automobile companies as in other sectors too.

“Few people know that the current F1 hybrid power unit is the most efficient in the world, delivering more power using less fuel, and hence CO2, than any other car,” Carey highlights. “We believe F1 can continue to be a leader for the auto industry, and work with the energy and automotive sector to deliver the world’s first net zero carbon hybrid internal combustion engine that hugely reduces carbon emissions around the world”.

To reduce the emissions of the whole circus to zero, it won’t be enough to focus exclusively on the cars themselves. The paddock, logistics and transoceanic journeys are to be considered, without forgetting all the events taking place during race weekends. Formula 1’s official website states that sustainable materials will be used during these functions and that all disposable plastic will be removed, favouring the use of recycled materials instead. In addition, the circus will work on ways to provide incentives and means for fans to travel to races in the most ecological way possible.

formula 1 zero emissions carbon neutral 2030
By 2025, race weekends will use sustainable materials in a bid to eliminate disposable plastic, in favour of recycling © Mark Thompson/Getty Images

2nd and 3rd generation biofuels for the future of Formula 1 

The next step for the sport is to implement the use of second generation fuels, which don’t impact the food chain as they originate from food waste and biomass such as forestry or even household waste. “Finally, there are third generation biofuels, sometimes called e-fuels or synthetic fuels, and without going into too much chemistry, these are the more advanced fuels,” explains Pat Symonds, Formula 1’s  Chief Technical Office. “They’re often called drop-in fuels because you can effectively just put them into any engine without modification,” he goes on to explain.

Even among drivers there’s a renewed attention towards climate change. F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, for example, recently announced his switch to veganism, as well as his decision to sell his private jet and ban disposable plastic from his home and office.

“It’s not the easiest because, yes, we’re travelling around the world and we’re racing Formula One cars. Our carbon footprint for sure is higher than the average homeowner that lives in the same city,” Hamilton told Reuters. “But it doesn’t mean you should be afraid to speak out about things that can be for a positive change”.

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