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Formula 1 drives towards sustainability

Environment > Formula 1 drives towards sustainability

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Could hydrogen powered cars be the answer?

04 August 2021, 2:06 PM


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.

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