Sustainability is a pressing topic in society, with world leaders and diplomats questioning how to grow and develop economically, without damaging the planet for decades to come.
As a result, many questions have been raised about the impact of motorsport on the environment, more specifically Formula 1.
In 2019, Formula 1 published their first Sustainability Strategy, committing to being net-zero by 2030 – this was following an extensive, damning report which revealed the sport contributed 256,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each season.
Sustainable Development is defined by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
So, could the sport make an effort to be more sustainable?
Formula 1 has announced a number of changes they want to make as early as 2025, including using sustainable materials, with all waste either being re-used or recycled, ensuring every race can qualify as an F1 Sustainable Spectacle.
By 2030, which is the year F1 has committed to being net-zero, the sport has committed to using carbon powered race cars, 100% renewably powered offices, factories, and facilities,and ‘ultra efficient’ logistics and travel.
Also included in F1’s net-zero plans are fans of the sport, with incentives and tools being offered to give every fan a ‘greener way’ to watch the Races, and circuits being adapted to be better for fan wellbeing and nature.
Former four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel has been a key pioneer in the environmental impact of motorsports, with full belief that the sport can continue to be just as exciting and interesting whilst still using carbon neutral fuel and limiting emissions.
This year Vettel kickstarted the ‘Race Without Trace’ campaign in an attempt to bring Carbon Neutral Fuels (CNF) to Formula 1.
According to his website, CNF is a fully performing fuel, just without the CO2 emissions which are so damaging for the environment.
At the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year Vettel spoke on his ambitions, explaining that he did not want the excitement of older F1 cars to be taken away from the younger generation – and that with CNF they sound the same as they did 30 or so years ago, just without destroying the environment.
Looking to the future…
The 2024 Race Calendar was aimed to reduce logistical challenges and enhance sustainability, with strategically scheduled races such as Qatar and Abu Dhabi being back-to-back – however, fans have raised concerns over other aspects of the calendar.
The number of races per season has increased to 24, the maximum there has ever been in one season – not only has this raised questions about how long the Winter Break will actually be for those working in the sport, but it has also been criticised for prioritising income and commercial interest.
More races ultimately leads to more revenue being made per season, however it seems to observers that individuals working within the sport have been put on a back-burner.
Despite the organisation being better for the environment, it still appears there could be improvements, however logistics are difficult due to weather conditions on different continents and seasonal preferences.
Although Formula 1 has a while to go to achieve their full net zero ambition, they are well on their way.