Towards a more environmentally friendly Formula 1?


While the question of ecology is in full swing, and sport is singled out by many people, in particular because of CO2 emissions, the practice of Formula 1, and motor sports in general, is at the center debates. F1, the premier category, is often classified as a sport that pollutes enormously. The FIA ​​therefore has an important battle to wage in the years to come.

In the paddock, if there is one driver who is committed to the ecological fight, it is Sebastian Vettel. The German driver has constantly reminded in recent years that Formula 1 should be more respectful of the environment. He was also widely criticized and called a hypocrite by a Canadian minister following the wearing of a t-shirt during the Canadian Grand Prix this year. You could read there “Stop the tar sands. Canada’s crime. »

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage reacted quickly and responded via her Twitter account. “I’ve seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, but this is really the icing on the cake. A Saudi Aramco-funded Aston Martin-sponsored racing driver complains about the tar sands. Saudi Aramco has the largest daily oil production of any company in the world. […] Rather than demonize the oil sands, which are on the path to carbon neutrality, people could seek to reduce their own personal carbon footprint. Maybe a pedal car for Formula 1? »

The FIA ​​report

What did this report say? In 2019, total CO2 emissions in Formula 1 were estimated at 256,551 tonnes. A figure should surprise some people, in reality, the single-seaters, in themselves, are only responsible for… 0.07% of these 260,000 tonnes. Over a full season, the 20 cars would burn around 150,000 liters of fuel, the same amount used for a Boeing 747 for a ten-hour flight. To put it simply, the consumption and emissions of single-seaters in Formula 1 remain low. So the problem lies elsewhere…

The main cause of emissions

The journeys of the teams to the four corners of the globe to compete in the races are causing more and more talk. Logistics alone is responsible for 45% of carbon emissions. Travel around the world contributes more than a quarter of total emissions (27.7%).

In addition to this, we must count the emissions produced by the factories and the various installations which contribute to 19.3%, or almost 50,000 tonnes of CO2. In particular, because these establishments consume energy to heat, cool, light and even operate machinery.

The various events linked to Formula 1 are responsible for 7.3% of these emissions.

A new biofuel?

By 2026, the project in Formula 1 is to produce and use 100% sustainable fuel. So there will be a change in regulations for power units. This year already, the mixture used which makes up the fuel used by the teams contains 10% ethanol, the aim being to reach 100% by 2026. Going from 10% to 100% in less than 5 years can sound ambitious. Pat Symonds, the British engineer, said: “What sets the objectives is quite simply to find enough of the fuel we need. There is a lot of ethanol, it is also easy to put some. But when you start looking at these more complex molecules, there aren’t that many and that’s why the middle of the decade seems like a realistic target to us. »

Is F1 in the wrong fight?

Formula 1 aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 through the creation of new partly thermal power units, but this time powered by renewable synthetic fuel. All these innovations obviously aim to reduce the carbon footprint of Formula 1, but the question that may arise is around the relevance of this development. Indeed, carbon emissions from single-seaters represent only a small, or even negligible, part of total CO2 emissions, namely 0.07% of the 256,000 tonnes of CO2. Should other measures be considered?

Mercedes makes arrangements

The Mercedes team announced last month that it wanted to invest and use sustainable aviation fuel for the various flights during the season. The German team wants to be a pillar in this fight to stem the current criticism of Formula 1. Following the invasion of the Silverstone circuit by demonstrators, measures have been taken by the team led by Toto Wolff . It is to be hoped that these decisions are lasting and encourage other teams to follow the path borrowed by Mercedes. Obviously, other solutions are possible to reduce these emissions, starting with the revision of the calendar to reduce journeys between continents as much as possible.

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