Net Zero Carbon: how Formula 1 will achieve this ambitious goal by 2030

In 2019, Formula 1 launched its plan to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030. Almost three years later, what is the sport doing to achieve this ambitious goal?

“Everyone understands the need for change,” says Stefano Domenicali, F1 chairman and chief executive. ” Everyone is on board. Some of them have already started this vast investment plan. When leaders start doing these things, everyone will follow.

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A detailed report on the environmental impact of F1 revealed that the championship was responsible for generating 256,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions during the 2019 season when the sustainability strategy was announced. In just over seven years, the goal is to reduce this to Net Zero.

So to be successful, F1 needed all stakeholders – from teams to manufacturers, from promoters to partners – on board. And that’s exactly what they did.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says ‘everyone understands the need for change’

To achieve this, F1 has undergone a cultural shift, where the sport’s environmental impact – and the goal of Net Zero Carbon by 2030 – is now part of every decision F1 makes and every initiative the company launches. F1. Previously, this was not a priority.

“As always, there is never a silver bullet to these challenges,” said Ross Brawn, F1 Managing Director, Motorsports. “There are a whole series of changes that we have to make, from the track to where we work.

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Every little contribution

With a project of this magnitude, F1 had to start somewhere. A simple change was to reduce single-use plastics inside the paddock and at circuit venues, with a focus on promoting the use of reusable bottles and providing plenty of water stations.

There is a push to reuse, recycle or reuse race weekend materials. Many tours now partner with local food banks and charities to help donate surplus food to those in need in the local community. It is often a group effort supported by hospitality throughout the event, including the F1 teams. For example, over 1.5 tonnes of unused food was donated to 17 charities in the state of Victoria following the cancellation of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix.

Several F1 tracks have taken steps to be more sustainable, with Circuit Gilles Villeneuve installing solar panels

F1 has issued guidance in 2022 to every promoter, focusing on six key areas for delivering events:

  • plastic waste

  • Local Fan Trip

  • Well-being & Nature

  • local community

  • Energy

  • Carbon

The response was positive. Solar panels that create enough power all year round to make up for the entire Grand Prix have been installed at Paul Ricard and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, while Circuit de Catalunya and Circuit International de Sakhir are 100% powered by renewable energies.

Back at base, teams are working to make their offices and facilities more sustainable. F1 offices now use 100% renewable energy, with the company – like many F1 teams – achieving the FIA’s highest (3*) sustainability management accreditation, while broadcast operations of F1 strive to find alternative biofuels to run in their generators where available in the markets.

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Work is underway to provide greener ways to travel to events. Zandvoort is a prime example, with 25,000 fans ditching their cars and using handcycles to get to the track last year, while 40,000 used public transport or walked to the venue.

“Sustainability is something very important to our partners,” said Brandon Snow, F1 Managing Director, Commercial and Marketing. “They want to know how we can work with them to support their goals and whether they are able to make a contribution to our goals, as we align on concrete initiatives with them. There is not a conversation that we now have with partners, existing or potential, that does not have an element of sustainability.

Many fans cycle to the Dutch Grand Prix or use public transport

Significant changes on track

But what about the cars themselves? What is changing there? Well, today’s hybrid power unit is already the most efficient in the world, delivering more power using less fuel than any other road car.

But from 2026 it will get even better, because they will run on 100% sustainable fuels. Sometimes referred to as e-fuels, sometimes referred to as synthetic fuels, advanced sustainable fuels consist of components derived from an approved carbon capture system or from municipal waste or non-food biomass, which achieves greenhouse gas economy greenhouse of at least the current Renewable Energy Directive (RED) level.

READ MORE: Formula 1 on track to deliver 100% sustainable fuels by 2026

Advanced sustainable fuels remove carbon from the atmosphere during the production process. Compared to fossil fuels, this allows an 85 to 96% reduction in CO2 emissions.

The new generation of F1 cars, launched this year, run on ‘E10’ fuel, a blend of 90% fuel and 10% renewable ethanol. Work with ARAMCO and the sport’s other fuel suppliers has been underway for several months now, with systems in place to enable sufficient production of 100% sustainable fuel to power cars from 2026.

This unique fuel will also have an impact around the world, as it has been designed in such a way that it can be jettisoned in most of the nearly two billion cars on the planet. “It gives us the chance that these vehicles will be sustainable in the shortest possible time,” says Domenicali. “F1 is taking a leading and pioneering role for the good of society.”

Brawn adds: “Our engines are already super efficient – ​​we have over 50% energy recovery from the fuel we currently use. This is unheard of. F1 has always pushed technology well and it’s real technology that can be used in road cars.”

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Adjust F1’s global footprint

Another key area where the sport is making changes is logistics. That’s no small feat considering it’s a global championship that will travel to 20 countries across four continents in the 2022 season.

In 2020, F1 changed the way it streams races by moving to a remote production model, which has resulted in less technical freight being shipped around the world and fewer personnel being sent to each Grand Prix.

Brawn sees opportunities for the sport to travel the world ‘more efficiently’

F1’s logistics and engineering teams are designing ‘flexible’ shipping containers to enable more fuel-efficient means of transport such as rail and sea freight, while also enabling a switch from using Boeing 747s to newer and more efficient 777 aircraft.

And then there’s the analysis to fine-tune the flow of future calendars, with races potentially grouped within regions. “It’s something we are working very hard on, but it will take time,” said Domenicali. “There are a lot of things to consider, including commercial interests and specific promoter requests.”

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Brawn adds, “We are working with our partner DHL to find ways to move things around with much less impact on the planet and ultimately become Net Zero Carbon. Part of that is how we might regionalize the schedule going forward to have North American races together, European races together, Middle East races together, and Asian races together. This is not a simple problem to solve and it will take time.

“If you don’t do anything, you won’t have an impact. We have to travel the world but try to do it more efficiently. This is where mentalities have changed in recent years.

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