Formula 1 has officially unveiled the calendar for the highly anticipated 2024 Formula 1 World Championship, which has received approval from the World Motor Sport Council. This calendar consists of 24 races, commencing in Bahrain on March 2 and culminating in Abu Dhabi on December 8.
In line with Formula 1’s commitment to regionalisation, the 2024 calendar aims to reduce logistical challenges, enhance sustainability, and create a more cohesive season. This is the official line from the organisers but seems at odds with the views of observers and fans.
Background: Net Zero 2030 initiative
Formula 1’s Net Zero 2030 initiative is a commitment by the sport to become carbon neutral by the year 2030. The initiative aims to tackle the environmental impact of Formula 1 by implementing various sustainability measures across all aspects of the sport’s operations.
The primary objective of the Net Zero 2030 initiative is to offset the carbon emissions produced by Formula 1 activities, including races, team operations, logistics, and travel. To achieve this, Formula 1 plans to focus on three main areas: reducing emissions, maximizing energy efficiency, and offsetting the remaining carbon footprint.
The cars on track
In terms of emissions reduction, Formula 1 aims to make significant improvements in fuel efficiency, engine technology, and aerodynamics to minimise the carbon emissions produced by the cars during races. The introduction of hybrid power units and the exploration of alternative fuels are some of the steps being taken to achieve this goal.
The rest of the sport
The sport is also exploring renewable energy sources to power its operations, such as solar and wind energy.
To offset the remaining carbon emissions that cannot be eliminated, Formula 1 is investing in ‘certified’ emissions reduction projects around the world. These projects focus on activities that remove or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as reforestation, renewable energy projects, and sustainable development initiatives.
In addition to addressing carbon emissions, the Net Zero 2030 initiative also targets waste reduction, responsible resource management, and promoting sustainable practices within the Formula 1 community.
By committing to the Net Zero 2030 initiative, Formula 1 hopes to be a leader in sustainable motorsport and contribute to global efforts in combating climate change. The sport claims that its environmental impact can be minimised and believes that the pursuit of sustainability can go hand in hand with delivering thrilling racing and entertainment with a good profit.
Formula 1’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, Liberty Media (owners of F1) and the FIA hope to send a powerful message about the importance of sustainability in the world of elite motorsport.
They say it demonstrates the sport’s willingness to embrace its environmental responsibilities and work towards a more sustainable future for both Formula 1 and the planet.
2024 aims to deliver on environmental promises
As for the new calendar, by strategically scheduling races, such as Japan in April, Azerbaijan in September, and Qatar back-to-back with Abu Dhabi, Formula 1 aims to establish a better flow of events within specific regions. However, the organisation acknowledges that complete regionalization may not always be feasible due to climatic and contractual factors inherent to a global championship.
The major highlight of the 2024 season revolves around the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which will take place on Saturdays. This unprecedented decision was made to accommodate Ramadan, exemplifying Formula 1’s commitment to inclusivity and respecting cultural observances.
24 races on the calendar
Expressing his enthusiasm, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali shared, “I am delighted to announce the 2024 calendar with 24 races that will provide an exciting season for our fans around the world. This calendar strikes the right balance between traditional races and new and existing venues, reflecting the immense interest and continued demand for Formula 1.”
Domenicali extended his gratitude to the promoters and partners who have played a pivotal role in bringing this calendar to fruition. He emphasised that Formula 1’s commitment to sustainability will persist, as the organization strives to streamline operations in line with its Net Zero 2030 initiative.
“I would like to thank all the promoters and partners for their support and efforts to achieve this beautiful calendar. Our journey towards a more sustainable calendar will continue in the coming years as we further streamline our operations as part of our Net Zero 2030 commitment.”
While eagerly anticipating the remaining races of the 2023 season, including the highly anticipated inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, fans can look forward to even more exhilarating action in the forthcoming year says Domenicali:
“We have plenty of racing left in 2023, including the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, and our fans can look forward to more excitement next season.”
The elephant in the room?
Many feel that the Formula 1 sport is appearing to only pay lip service to the environmental commitments of the Net Zero initiative, and this is the biggest issue with the F1 calendar. Quite how increasing the number of races on the calendar to the maximum ever achieved before, yet claiming that they are planting enough trees to compensate for a schedule that means the shortest winter break ever, doesn’t really hold weight.
Expanding the number of Formula 1 races results in increased revenue and income for the sport. As one of the most popular and widely-watched motorsport events worldwide, Formula 1 has a significant global fan base and attracts substantial commercial interest.
While expanding the number of races may come with logistical challenges, such as managing the calendar and ensuring the quality of each event, the potential benefits for Formula 1 in terms of increased revenue and income are evident. With its global appeal, strong fan base, and commercial opportunities, Formula 1 can capitalise on the additional races to drive financial growth and secure its position as one of the most lucrative and exciting motorsport series in the world.
Quite where the carbon accounting ends up, is anyone’s guess…
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 1, 2023