Formula 1 says it wants to reduce its environmental impact, but does the opposite. TJ13 reveals F1’s huge lie. Races have increased without following geographical considerations, yet the championship has set itself the goal of eliminating emissions by 2030.
Last season, Formula One detailed a rather ambitious plan to drastically reduce its environmental impact. The world’s leading motor racing championship, which traditionally has stages all over the world, has set as its goal for 2030 not just a generic reduction, but net zero: the condition in which for every tonne of CO2 or other greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere, an equal amount is removed, using offsets and renewable energies.
Logistics’ killing F1’s pledge
For 2019, the last year played without pandemic restrictions, the F1 season generated direct and indirect emissions estimated at 256,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Of this estimate, only eight per cent related to racing and circuit activities on race weekends.
The bulk of the emissions (around 70 per cent of the total) were generated by logistics, transport and operational facilities, not to mention that the estimate did not include all the detached activities of the ten championship teams.
The ‘Net Zero Carbon’ plan had been explained in detail on 28 September, just one week after the presentation of the competition calendar for the following season, the longest and busiest in the history of the championship. To the 22 races held in 2022 – already that a record – two more were added for a total of 24 races scheduled between 5 March and 26 November, one of these, which will replace the Chinese Grand Prix, has not yet been announced.
I made an animated version of this years F1 calendar for TikTok, enjoy: pic.twitter.com/kBnAahOx5M
— Shea Payne (@sheapayne14) January 8, 2023
Bearing in mind the environmental commitment made by Formula One and the emissions calculated in the last season before the pandemic – which was shorter by three races – the new calendar does not seem to be going in the same direction at all, quite the contrary.
Indeed, all the logistics involved in moving an enormous organisation made up of ten teams, thousands of people involved, dozens of vehicles and tons of equipment around the world will be even more complex this year.
It will start in March, for example, with two races in the Arabian peninsula, and then move to Melbourne, Australia, the venue of the third Grand Prix. But in the course of the season Formula 1 will return twice more to the Persian Gulf countries: on 8 October it will race in Qatar after having arrived there from Japan, and on 26 November it will be in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates for the last race of the season, just a week after having raced for the first time, and at night, in Las Vegas, in the United States.
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is scheduled for 30 April in Baku, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Just a week later it will be run in Miami, another US race of the World Championship, after which Formula 1 will return to Europe for a series of races between Imola, Monaco and Barcelona. At the end of this period it will return to North America to race in Montreal, Canada, and immediately afterwards it will return to Europe before moving on to Asia.
While there has never been another world championship with such a vast organisation in the past, in 2023 the logistics of Formula 1 will reach an unprecedented complexity, caused in particular by a calendar that does not take geographical considerations into account. One therefore wonders how this global expansion of Formula One, dictated by a moment of great popularity, will fit into its environmental plans.
Formula 1’s plans focus on commercial not environmental
Formula 1 has divided them into two phases. By 2025 it aims to reduce emissions by reducing waste and optimising materials and staff and spectator habits. By 2030, on the other hand, the spread of renewable energy, where possible, and the use of biofuels in racing is planned.
There is no mention, however, of the issue of transport and logistics, except for vague optimisation proposals in collaboration with DHL, the logistics multinational that assists Formula One in its travels.
For a championship that cannot do without travelling from country to country, the reorganisation of calendars on a geographical basis, so that they are more logical and less impactful, is the only way to drastically reduce emissions.
Yet an intervention in this direction remains only a hypothesis, as explained by the CEO of Formula 1 himself, Italian Stefano Domenicali:
“It is something we are working very hard on, but it will take time. There are many things that have to be considered, including commercial interests and the specific demands of promoters”
Ross Brawn, former senior boss of Formula One, who has been in racing for over forty years and recently retired, also spoke about it.
In September he said: “We are working with our partner DHL to find ways to move with much less impact on the planet. Part of that thinking is about regionalising calendars to bring together North American races, European races, Middle Eastern races, and Asian races. But it is not an easy problem to solve and it will take some time.”