F1 gearing towards renewable future

Picture: formula1.com

F1 has continued to push the envelope in the engineering sphere for decades, but their biggest challenge may be one they have set for themselves.

In 2019 the governing body of Formula 1 made a decision to push for a net zero carbon footprint by 2030.

Since then, we have seen advancement in synthetic fuels.

F1 expert and Editor of Motorsport.com, Andrew van Leeuwen, spoke with The Inner Sanctum and said the knock-on effect is the potential advancement of F1 technology can have on road cars.

“It’s largely built around sustainable materials, more environmentally-friendly site management during races (limiting single-use plastics in hospitality suites, etc) and so on,” he said.

“There’s no doubt the trickle-down of technology from F1 to the public roads has slowed in the modern era, but something like the synthetic fuel push has potential to have real-world implications.”

Despite the efforts, the cars themselves are not the only contributing factor to the high emissions recorded by F1.

In fact, emissions from the cars involved in racing don’t even make up one per cent of the F1 carbon footprint.

The main culprit behind the F1 emissions, which totalled a whopping 256,551 tonnes of CO2 in 2019, is the logistics department.

This relates to the travel and transportation involved in enabling F1 to hold a global race calendar.

One place that F1 could look to for a blueprint on achieving a net zero carbon output would the Formula E competition.

The sport uses electric powered cars, however the obstacle of transport and travel remains, making the achievement of a net zero output even more impressive.

One of the advantages Formula E has over F1 in terms of how much effort they are able to put into building towards a sustainable future, is that the competition was set up to, first and foremost, accelerate the adoption of electric cars throughout society.

The main purpose of Formula E is to reduce emissions whereas F1 strives primarily to pass the eye-test of racing fans, something Formula E has struggled with.

“From an overall marketing perspective, F1 still packs the bigger punch,” van Leeuwen said of the difference between F1 and FE.

“The FE product seems to be symptomatic of electric car technology as a whole – not quite there, in a full usable, relatable form, just yet.

“The cars would benefit from being faster and more spectacular.

“But without programmes like FE helping accelerate the development, it will take even longer. It’s very chicken and egg, if that makes sense.”

Despite 2020 being a challenging year for sport in general, F1 demonstrated that their pledge to become carbon neutral was not an empty one as they were able to achieve a three-star environmental accreditation rating from the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile).

This is the highest rating that the FIA can provide and is proof that those in charge of F1 are demonstrating best practice and focussing as much attention as possible on striving for a renewable future.

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