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Formula One’s Environmental Transformation

  • by: Ryan Abbot
  • On: 14, Nov 2019
3 min read

Earlier this week Formula 1 bosses committed to making the sport completely carbon neutral in the next 10 years.

The Automotive industry as a whole is responsible for 12% of total EU CO2 emissions. In 2019 the European Parliament set emission performance standards for all new cars and vans manufactured, which will apply from 1st January 2020. As F1 cars produce over 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year – the equivalent of supplying energy to 30,000 homes – the Motorsport sector is aiming to match this environmental transformation.

What will the new pledge mean for teams, manufacturers and fans?


How Formula One Will Change

The racing car competition is already aiming to reduce vehicle emissions by 50% in the next few years. Plans include:

· Biofuels – Transitioning vehicles over to sustainable fuels could dramatically cut greenhouse gases in the next few years and will be combined with activities such as tree planting to offset carbon emissions. Second generation biofuels will be created from used cooking oil or surplus crops.

· Zero Waste – With over four million spectators attending every event on the FIA Championship calendar, rubbish left behind by the public is a continuous challenge. To protect the habitats and green spaces during and after each event, organisers have committed to waste-free Grands Prix.

· Carbon Footprint – The Aviation industry currently accounts for around 2% of the world’s emissions, and ever-increasing demand for business and leisure travel means the sector is set to be one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the next two decades. 45% of Motorsport’s total carbon production is created by moving the cars and equipment from race to race. Automotive bosses are reviewing the race calendar and planning to make it more efficient so that teams and crew take fewer flights, and therefore leave less of a carbon footprint, between events.

What’s Driving the Change?

· Performance – Lighter, more efficient cars would make for better aerodynamics. Clean air means the downforce-producing surfaces of each vehicle work well, allowing the driver to better handle the car and enabling smoother, faster performances.

· Market – The US/China Trade Awards could significantly impact manufacturers across the globe. As China is the world’s largest automobile manufacturer, any change to China’s production or exporting abilities could cause major challenges for Automotive manufacturers, vehicle retailers and Motorsport teams across continents. Many countries are already experiencing a significant market shift: Germany’s car production dropped by 12% in 2019, with exports falling by 14%. Sustainable Automotive manufacturing could create permanent efficiencies to save valuable time, costs and resources, preparing the sport to weather market changes internationally.

· Commercial Sponsors – Sustainability in any industry is certainly more attractive to investors, and F1 sponsorship is no different. For long-established teams and new entrants, change and innovation will draw interest and backing from around the world.

· Fans – Over a successful history spanning seven decades, F1 has managed to retain its existing fanbase and attract new generations by harnessing technological advancements. In the past decade the utilisation of social media has seen the sport reach and engage fans across the world. With technology and globalisation making Generation Z the most internationally aware demographic, concerned with climate change, business ethics and corporate transparency, F1’s ambitious environmental commitment will be favourable to younger audiences.


Formula 1 vs Formula E

The newest name in Motorsport, Formula E has grown in popularity since its launch five years ago. Created as a truly green sport, FE cars run entirely on electric engines. With the latter’s turn towards environmental sustainability, will F1 and FE become rivals?

FE’s efficient and often homogenous vehicles place more emphasis the skills of individual drivers than make and model, often leading to unpredictable competitions with surprising podium winners.

However, where FE challenged the status quo, F1’s new sustainable focus combined with its rich history and legendary drivers will see both events generate mass appeal. Cutting-edge automotive technology from major players including BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz could see green racing becoming the new norm and sharing a wider, multi-generational fanbase.


What’s Next for Formula One?

Discover 7 Automotive Brands Disrupting the Industry or the Future of Autonomous Vehicles.

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