F1 car

#Environment

Formula 1 drives towards sustainability

Environment > Formula 1 drives towards sustainability

You can read this in 4 minutes

Could hydrogen powered cars be the answer?

04 August 2021, 2:06 PM

Share

Sustainability is now top of the leader board when it comes to Formula 1 racing, as the sport has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. As the most prestigious motorsport tournament in the world, and one with a historically large carbon footprint, Formula 1 (F1) can play a pretty important role in shaping the attitudes of its fans on the importance of sustainability and climate change – especially by making those changes in their own garage first.

Plus, established F1 drivers have also been taking the wheel when it comes to sustainability in the sport! It’s super impressive to see drivers using their platforms to champion important causes, like protecting the environment. 

Take British seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, for example. He’s spoken out a lot on environmental issues and has said that F1’s anti-racism and sustainability campaigns are the main reasons why he wants to stick around in the sport, for a chance to change the world. That’s a #DifferenceMaker in our book!

German racing driver and four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, is up there too – using his voice to help raise awareness and find solutions to protect our planet. He even stuck around after the 2021 British Grand Prix to help clear up rubbish left by the 140,000 fans that attended the event at Silverstone. Every little helps! 

So what are Formula 1 doing exactly? Well, it has one of the most ambitious sustainability programmes of any major sport, and it’s looking as though hydrogen powered cars could be the future. How cool is that!

Hydrogen fuel cells don’t contain any harmful emissions (yay), with the only by-product being water from the chemical reaction of hydrogen with oxygen from the air - the process that produces electricity to power the car. Neat!  

But F1 estimates that just 0.7% of the sport's emissions are from the race cars themselves, while almost half come from the logistical caravan that moves equipment and staff between the races, of which there are a record 23 planned this season. To fix that, they’re working on ultra-efficient and low carbon logistics and travel options, and 100% renewably powered offices, facilities and factories. They’re even eliminating single-use plastic and encouraging more eco-friendly practises for any fans visiting their venues.

What’s more, Formula 1 rules already demand that the petrol used in F1 contains at least 10% biofuel and that proportion is likely to increase. Many countries have set deadlines in the next two decades for phasing out the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles, and F1’s focus is now on developing synthetic fuels which use carbon captured from the air, farm waste or biomass – and the first 100% sustainable fuel barrels were delivered at the end of 2020. It’s all natural, baby!  

And Honda, who supplies engines to the Red Bull team, have announced they’ll be pulling out of F1 at the end of this year to concentrate their engineering focus on carbon-free technology. We’re sad to see them go, but you gotta admire their commitment!  

F1 has always been a technology leader, driving cutting-edge innovation to deliver sustainable solutions. So, what challenges does F1 face on the road to a greener future?

They need to make sure the alternative fuel is safe and can produce the amount of power that’s required to be able to do the lap times they already do. We’ve all heard the roar of those engines – talk about power! And hydrogen is looking like a good option for this.

Do you know any other sports that are putting their best sustainability foot forward? Head over to our social media channels and tell us all about them.

Next article: Algae beer? Bottoms up!

Can't get enough?
Check these out

Nico Rosberg former Formula 1 racing driver

Someone to follow

Former F1 Champion, Nico Rosberg, is championing a more sustainable future for the world of racing.

Ella Podmore Materials Engineer at McLaren

Something to watch

Check out this interview with McLaren Materials Engineer, Ella Podmore – the 2020 IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year!

FIA Formula E racing cars

Something to read

If you haven’t heard of Formula E, the F1 equivalent for electric motors, then where have you been?!

Warning: may blow your mind!

Check out our top picks

top_picks_food_waste_hires_1.jpg

The food waste app that’s revolutionising the way we eat

Top_Picks_Iceberg_Crop.jpg

Saving the ice caps, one bead at a time

Top_Picks_Fashion_Crop2.jpg

The future of sustainable fashion

Incredible people, unbelievable stories

#differencemakers

We can all
change the world

We are #DifferenceMakers, a ground-breaking movement inspiring us all to make a change, no matter how big or small, by sharing remarkable stories of how engineering and technology are saving the world around us. Expect the unexpected – from super sustainable fashion and squeaky clean streaming, to apps that combat food waste and
tech to stop the ice caps melting.

We’re changing the way everyone sees engineering and technology, and proving they're a force to be reckoned with when it comes to saving our planet! If you care about making a difference and want to learn more, then join our movement today.

#DifferenceMakers was created to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) – one of the world’s largest engineering institutions and a diverse home for everyone in engineering and technology.