Sustainability Blog

Sustainability of F1 Racing on Track

By Will Beverina - Mar 23, 2022

As the 2022 F1 season kicked off with its inaugural race in Bahrain, the race had more eyes on it than ever before, thanks in part to the Netfix series Drive to Survive. What they might not see is that of all major sporting competitions, F1 cannot be considered sustainable. It has in fact got some particularly egregious issues, and the organization is acutely aware of that fact that the sustainability of F1 racing has to get on track.

In 2018, F1’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled 256,551 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. For comparison, Seth Wynes, who studies climate change mitigation at Concordia University, estimated that the four major sports leagues of North America combined emitted 121,841 tons of carbon dioxide that same year.

Despite the hefty emissions, F1 has set an ambitious target to host fully sustainable race events by 2025 and become carbon neutral by 2030.

Its largest source of emissions, as with other professional sports, is from logistics and travel at 45%. This is hardly surprising as the 2018 season spanned five continents and 21 countries over 21 races.

On that front, F1 said in an ESG briefing note published February 2022 it was streamlining logistics by introducing remote broadcasts which cut down on technical cargo and by replacing its current shipping containers with ones that would reduce the use of high-emission 747s. All of which it hopes will improve the sustainability of F1 racing.

>Read more about ESG here.

The sport is also pushing toward more sustainable vehicles. In 2014, F1 ushered in new regulations requiring all cars use hybrid power units that are powered by more sustainable fuels. And while F1 cars are far from the biggest offenders in terms of emissions, they aren’t the only beneficiary of this technology. With the massive engineering plus research and development efforts put into all 20 cars every year, the sport’s cutting-edge innovation trickles down to everyday vehicles. 

The organization pointed to a few of its technologies that have made their way to the dealer’s showroom. The new hybrid engines are helping to enable faster battery charging and improved internal combustion engine efficiency for all plug-in hybrid vehicles.

F1 also said automotive OEMs have directly applied F1 energy management technologies to optimize energy use and battery management to improve efficiency in their hybrid and EV fleets.

F1 will take it even further with its regulations. In 2026 it will introduce new power units which would draw more of its energy from electrical power, from the current 17-21% all the way up to 45%+. It is also restricting the use of unsustainable materials in battery construction in future regulation changes.

OEMs currently fielding F1 teams under their own names are Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.

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