In Formula 1, Formula1

Formula 1, often recognized as the pinnacle of motor racing, has always enthralled fans worldwide with its high speeds, remarkable technical precision, and intense rivalries. However, it has also been under continuous scrutiny for its environmental footprint. The noise, emissions, and pollution associated with F1 have led to a cloud of misconceptions enveloping the sport. It’s crucial to debunk these myths and shed light on the reality behind Formula 1’s environmental impact.

Misconception 1: The Carbon Emissions from F1 Cars are the Main Contributor to Pollution

Often, the finger is pointed at the high-speed, petrol-guzzling F1 cars as being the primary contributors to carbon emissions and, subsequently, environmental pollution. While it’s undeniable that these machines do contribute, it is far from being the biggest culprit.

The truth is, the carbon emissions from all the F1 cars on the track account for less than 1% of the total carbon footprint of the sport. This figure includes the emissions from the entire race weekend, including testing and practice sessions. The majority of emissions (around 45%) stem from logistics – the transportation of team equipment, personnel, and F1’s vast traveling circus to the 20+ races held globally each year. Another significant portion (approximately 27.7%) comes from personnel travel and accommodation.

Formula 1 has been testing its own eco-friendly paddock power station at the Austrian Grand Prix to reduce carbon emissions. In an effort to achieve net carbon zero status by 2030, the power station used sustainable sources like hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) biofuel and solar panels. Located at the Red Bull Ring, the power station supplied energy to the paddock, garages, and pitlane. F1 aims to decrease emissions by approximately 90% with this initiative, potentially reducing CO2 output from 200 to 10 tonnes. The trial in Austria will determine if this model can be implemented at future events, supporting F1’s commitment to sustainability.

f1 sponsorshipMisconception 2: F1 Doesn’t Contribute to Sustainable Innovations

Some critics argue that F1, with its high-octane sporting spectacle, offers little to no contribution to the broader sphere of sustainable innovation. This viewpoint, however, is deeply flawed.

In reality, F1 has been a breeding ground for cutting-edge technology, some of which have significant implications for sustainable motoring. The sport has pioneered advancements in energy recovery systems, such as the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and the Energy Recovery System (ERS), both of which are now essential elements in the design of hybrid vehicles. Furthermore, F1 has been a leader in developing lightweight materials and efficient aerodynamics, both of which can greatly improve the fuel efficiency of road cars.

Misconception 3: F1 Isn’t Making an Effort to Reduce its Environmental Impact

Another widespread misconception is the perceived lack of effort by F1 in reducing its carbon footprint. Yet, this could not be further from the truth. Formula 1 announced its ambitious plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. This comprehensive plan includes logistical operations, travel, and on-track activity. Moreover, by 2025, all F1 events aim to be sustainable, with a focus on eliminating single-use plastics and ensuring all waste is reused, recycled, or composted.

On the track, F1 cars have been using hybrid power units since 2014, which significantly cut down emissions. Additionally, Formula 1 is pushing for a move to biofuels, with an aim to have a fully sustainable fuel in the sport by 2025.

f1 sponsorshipMisconception 4: F1 Should Abandon Petrol Engines and Go Fully Electric

The emergence of Formula E, the fully electric racing series, has led to calls for F1 to abandon petrol engines entirely. However, this perspective oversimplifies the challenge.

F1 and Formula E serve different purposes. Formula E aims to advance electric vehicle technology and promote the adoption of electric vehicles. F1, on the other hand, is about pushing the boundaries of automotive technology, regardless of the power source. It is important to remember that, as of 2021, around 98% of the world’s vehicles are still powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs). Therefore, advancements in ICE technology, like improving fuel efficiency and developing sustainable fuels, can still have a substantial immediate impact on global emissions.


The world of Formula 1 is no stranger to environmental scrutiny, and while some criticism is valid, much of it is based on misconceptions. It’s crucial to recognize the strides the sport is taking towards sustainability, from pioneering green technologies to ambitious carbon neutrality goals.

As fans, it’s our responsibility to foster informed discussions about the sport we love. By dispelling these myths, we can appreciate not just the on-track battles, but also the off-track efforts F1 is making towards a more sustainable future. We should encourage the sport to keep pushing these boundaries and hold it accountable in its pursuit of its environmental commitments. Only then can we truly enjoy the spectacle of F1, knowing that the thrill of speed doesn’t have to come at the cost of our planet.

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Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Associate Director, Executive Marketing and Commercial at RTR Sports Marketing, a London-based sports marketing company specializing in motorsport for over 25 years.
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