As part of its “factory to flag” net-zero targets, Formula 1 (F1) is developing a 100% sustainable fuel ready for use in the sport by 2026, with the added potential to be adopted in road cars globally.
The new fuel will be lab created using components that come from carbon capture schemes, municipal waste, or non-food biomass. Compared to fossil-derived petrol, the new fuel will achieve greenhouse gas emissions savings of at least 65% while “packing the same punch worthy of the pinnacle of motorsport”.
The fuel will be considered a ‘drop-in’ fuel, with F1 stating any internal combustion engine (ICE) will be able to run on it.
According to the official F1 newsroom, racing fuel represents less than 1% of the sport’s total emissions, so the carbon savings from switching to greener fuels aren’t huge. But, with an estimated 1.8 billion cars on the road by 2030 and only 8% of those being Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), a fully sustainable fuel is the area where F1 believes it can have a substantial impact on the global transportation sector.
The development is another step towards F1’s ambitious goal of reaching net-zero by 2030. A goal they’re already on their way to achieving after implementing new regulations requiring competitors cars to use E10 fuel for the 2022 season. The fuel is a mixture of 90% fossil fuel and 10% ethanol, the latter of which is renewable as it’s made from corn and other plant materials.
This change to the regulations wasn’t an easy transition, with Hywel Thomas, Mercedes High-Performance Powertrains’ Managing Director explaining “The change this year to go to the E10 [fuel] is probably the largest regulation change we have had since 2014. So, it was a sizeable undertaking to make sure that we really developed that fuel and… shouldn’t be underestimated how much work that took.”
Additionally, F1 also states several other actions already taken to help reduce their carbon emissions:
- In the past 3 years, they introduced remote broadcast operations, reducing freight
- Redesigned their freight containers to enable more efficient aircraft to be used
- Transitioned to 100% renewable energy in their F1 offices
- Delivered their first carbon-neutral broadcast production at Silverstone in 2021 with the aim to earn this accreditation again in 2022
- Achieved the highest Sustainability Management accreditation awarded by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) (3* accredited)
- Issued guidance to all our Race Promoters to help assist them in best practice when running a sustainable event looking at key areas such as energy, plastic & waste, wellbeing & nature and local fan travel
You can read more about F1’s Net-Zero strategy in their February 2022 report.
McLaren Racing is in pole position
Demonstrating the wider motorsport industry’s commitment to sustainable practices, McLaren Racing recently released a report outlining the championship team’s efforts to consider the environmental and social impacts across the operations of their Formula 1, IndyCar, esports and Heritage programmes.
The report was the first of its kind within the sport. Developed in line with the Global Reporting Initiative, the global standard for impact reporting, the report includes 4 “strategic pillars” for the organisation to focus on:
- Net-zero – Halving their GHG footprint by 2030, achieving net-zero by 2040, and using their platform to advocate and educate for climate action.
- Circular economy – Accelerating the transition to a circular economy by researching the development of a fully circular F1 car and establishing and implementing circularity practices
- Diversity, equality & inclusion – Promoting and embedding a diverse and inclusive culture in their workforce and industry, with 40% of our employees to come from under-represented groups by 2030.
- Health and wellbeing – Positively promoting and supporting the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our people and the communities we impact.
In a message from Kim Wilson, Director of Sustainability at McLaren, said, “Sustainability is not just a buzzword or trend; it’s a serious topic that requires authentic engagement and collective action.” Further adding, “We know racing fans want to support teams who do more than pay lip service to global trends; they want brands whose logos not only conjure up sporting nostalgia but also represent hopes for a better and more equitable future for all.”
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