Why Formula 1 couldn’t ignore the green agenda any longer


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Formula 1 didn’t know it had a sustainability problem until Formula E came along. When F1 was majority-controlled by the CVC venture fund driven by a single objective, to squeeze every last drop of profitability out of its acquisition – and micro-managed by an octogenarian living in the past – the sport existed in a bubble, raising two fingers at the real world.

Then along came this electric up-start, established by the same FIA that governed F1, and founded by a youthful entrepreneur who combined a championship-winning motorsport background with a successful career in European politics. The category up-ended the established order by preaching green sermons in city centres across the globe.

Motor manufacturers fled F1 in the wake of the Global Economic Crisis and upon their eventual returns they embraced Formula E. At the last count there were eight ‘majors’ and three start-ups, attracted by reasonable budgets which enable them to brag about green credentials at a fraction of F1 budgets. So what if TV and live audiences were a fraction of F1’s? Perception counted, and perception is reality until categorically disproven.

So successful was FE perceived to be that folk inside and outside the nascent series predicted F1 would soon turn electric or even converge with the upstart, which holds exclusive rights with the FIA to promote electric racing until 2039.

Mercedes F1 power units
F1’s power units are already astonishingly efficient
Such talk of convergence, though, overlooks the fact that electric vehicles have very real limitations, and that 90 per cent of the 1.1 billion vehicles on global road networks are powered by internal combustion engines running on carbon fuels.

Regardless of how FE ultimately turns out, the series could at best make a minor dent in world’s ICE vehicle parc, and even that could take up to 30 years to take effect. Better, surely, to ensure that the billion automobiles have access to zero-carbon fuels than replace them with electric vehicles with well-documented limitations. Imagine the environmental impact of a billion dumped cars…

This is where F1 plans to come into play. Its cars are already powered by the most efficient ICE-hybrid engines in the history of the automobile, which deliver record-setting thermal efficiencies of over 50 per cent. These power units are ideally placed to act to as rolling laboratories for synthetic and bio-fuels.

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Just as F1 engines of old acted as high-performance test beds, so new-gen power units are poised to lead the low-emissions charge, all while delivering a bigger and arguably better aural sporting spectacle than does FE.

It has taken F1 as a whole 10 years to grasp the environmentally-friendly potential of its power unit. The hybrid engines were formulated in 2009 amid much criticism. But the sport’s new owners, Liberty Media, took less than a fifth of that time to recognise it, and formulated its zero-carbon sustainability plan, announced yesterday, in under 12 months.

F1’s major issue as a hydrocarbon-burning series is that its cars are perceived to be ‘dirty’ monsters, whereas FE is seen as whiter than the driven snow. The truth is, though, that just 0.7 per cent of F1’s carbon footprint of 256,551 tons annually is generated by its ICE engines. The rest is created by the ‘show’ and, crucially, in this regard F1 ranks lower than the Olympics or FIFA World Cup in terms of emissions.

Thus F1 formulated an extensive global sustainability programme, launched earlier this week, which stands on two ‘pedestals’: its own emissions, and ‘show’ emissions, with each pedestal aiming at stringent targets. In order to achieve the objectives Liberty engaged environmental and sustainability experts to undertake in-depth studies, in the process canvassing teams, drivers, fans and promoters.

Pedestal 1 – Net-zero carbon by 2030

To kill perceptions that F1 is a dirty simply because its cars run on hydrocarbon fuels, the objective is to move towards a net-zero carbon footprint, with the major focus being on power units, to be fuelled 100% by fully advanced, sustainable fuels by 2030. Whatever fuel is ultimately mandated will be second-generation, i.e. will; not divert crops to fuel, whether directly or through land usage.

Start, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019
The cars produce a tiny fraction of F1’s emissions
Such a move obviously holds major implications for the global vehicle parc, for if synthetic and/or biofuels are developed for F1, these will eventually trickle down to road car usage – thus ultimately benefitting the planet.

However, regardless of how effective this initiative proves, it will impact on at most 0.7 per cent of F1’s overall footprint. Still, disposal of hybrid energy storage devices (batteries), remains a tricky area – although Formula E has a similar and potentially greater problem in this regard given its total reliance on batteries. F1 is in discussions with teams and their suppliers as to the best way forward.

Whichever battery disposal route is adopted will also benefit the hundreds of thousands of electric vehicle owners who will at some stage need to scrap batteries at the end of their useful life. Forget not that as the electric vehicle parc ages, this problem will mushroom.

Still, all power unit-related sustainability is but a relative drop in the ocean, for nearly half of F1’s 256,500 ton annual carbon footprint, is generated by logistics and freight involved in taking the ‘show’ to its audience.

Here F1 has a major advantage over other global sporting spectaculars, who expect their million-strong fan bases to travel to their ‘shows’, primarily by air, for extended periods. By contrast, F1 is largely able control its own footprint.

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Thus F1 plans to moving towards regional hubs, using sea-freight wherever feasible, with a switch to low-emission air transportation rather than relying on an aging fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft being step two. Within Europe road transportation will be by an advanced low-carbon fleet, while improved calendar efficiencies, which cluster events in close proximity to each other, will also come into play.

Paddock, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019
F1 teams transport a huge amount of kit
The next biggest footprint – at 28 per cent – is that created by travelling F1 personnel and team and partner employees, and, again, this is largely controllable, particularly when calendars are streamlined. Reductions in headcount due to impending cost controls and improved team efficiencies will also reduce F1’s environmental impact.

With approximately 20 per cent of the footprint generated by F1’s production processes – already exceedingly low given the efficiency of the vast factories operated by Mercedes and Ferrari – ever-more stringent restrictions placed on wind tunnel usage and simulations will further reduce emissions, while increasing duty cycles or controlled usage of production-intensive components will do their bit.

It stands to reason that if 12 front wings used over a year generate 12 carbon measures, restricting teams to, say, five homologated wings will substantially reduce emissions, whether on a linear basis or not, while inter-team transfer as facilitated by the 2021 technical regulation will further reduce emissions. Extend this thinking to all component groups, and the impact is substantial.

Internally, Formula 1 plans to go completely carbon-neutral at its Biggin Hill and St James Square sites within the next couple of months via 100% renewably-powered offices. Any gaps will be offset through breakthrough CO2 sequestration processes – which involves capturing and storing carbon dioxide – and not simply through the issuing of cheques. Yes, an element of tree planting could result, but the initial focus will be on sustainable practices.

As part of this process F1 plans to target its on-event footprint – the emissions created by broadcasting, support races, Paddock Club operations, circuit energy use, generator use, etc., but excluding power unit emissions. This category contributes almost eight per cent of the total, or over ten times that of the power units.

In order to achieve its objective of being totally carbon-neutral by the end of next decade, F1 will harness its considerable technical and scientific expertise to pioneer and innovate solutions that either trap carbon, use it more efficiently, or, in the best case scenario, ‘scrub’ it from the atmosphere to ultimately benefit wider society.

Pedestal 2 – Totally sustainable events by 2025

Where Pedestal 1 commits F1 to manage its sporting activities to achieve zero-carbon status by 2030, the second pedestal provides the blueprint to ensure that every grand prix on the F1 calendar is totally sustainable in kits own right by the middle of the next decade by focussing on off-track activities and those functions that do not directly involve the cars and/or F1 personnel.

Huge crowds generate huge waste
Thus by 2025 all materials used in the paddock, at grands prix and events such as fan festivals, in fan zones and hospitality areas, and in spectator viewing areas will be either sustainable, recycled or re-used – with an outright ban on the use of single-use plastics within the circuit perimeter.

While the footprint of fans is obviously difficult to gauge or control, F1 plans to capitalise on the fact that F1 events travel to the fans, and not vice-versa. As a general rule, around 70 per cent of fans at a grand prix hail from the immediate area, with 20 per cent travelling from a nearby state or country. The balance comprises international ‘interest’, some of whom were travelling the region in any event.

Contrast this with the expected foreign interest at, say, Qatar’s 2022 World Cup or actual attendance during Japan’s recent Rugby World Cup, and it is clear that F1 holds some major advantages over single region events. However, F1 fans still travel to the circuit, and thus Liberty plans to offer incentives to those who use public or carbon-free means of transport, with optional carbon of-setting offered to the balance.

Liberty further recognises that sustainability is not simply about minimising or clearing away dirty air, but about welfare and well-being – and thus spectator facilities will be vastly improved, particularly in hot areas, while a quota of tickets available for disadvantaged members of the community across all age groups to attend an event they normally would not be able to afford.

Finally, as part of the second pillar, F1 plans to involve local businesses and charities in staging events to ensure that they build sustainable local operations off the back of F1. For example, at present all Paddock Club personnel are flown in from across Europe, while the security staff hail largely from Austria. Imagine the potential carbon saving from using local staff instead.

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Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2019
Vettel and Hamilton backed F1’s push to go green
Taken overall, F1’s sustainability plans are not only step in the right direction image-wise, but absolutely crucial to the long-term survival of the sport, for already environmentally-conscious audiences were switching off due to (incorrect) perceptions about the cars, while sponsors and partners were heading to Formula E, lured by the category’s perceived ‘greenery’.

Liberty now needs to convert this week’s announcement into clear-cut action with an absolute minimum of delay, and it will be fascinating to observe how it goes about that crucial element. However, now that the sport has chucked the environmental gauntlet directly at FE, the electric championship will no doubt respond with further activities and environmental actions plans of its own.

These will in turn spur F1 to greater heights, with the competition between the two premier FIA series hopefully resulting in ever-improving sustainability programmes, which will ultimately benefit all road users – and, by extension, the greater world – regardless of whether their vehicles are powered by IC engines or electric motors.

Motorsport as a whole at the vanguard of global sustainability? Whoever would have thought that just 12 short months ago…


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48 comments on “Why Formula 1 couldn’t ignore the green agenda any longer”

  1. José Lopes da Silva
    13th November 2019, 12:18

    Because they want to stay relevant well into this century. Seems simple and clear.

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      13th November 2019, 13:41

      Agree 100%

      I love the sound of ICE but we are in the 21st century now. The march of EV technology is unstoppable. I’d predict FE will be potentially quicker than F1 in 10 years.

      Some of Dieter’s article is priceless in its inaccuracy and bias.

      Here’s some quotes:

      Such talk of convergence, though, overlooks the fact that electric vehicles have very real limitations

      Well this is changing RAPIDLY. With the use of and Super and Ultra capacitors and aluminium air range extenders we could soon see EV’s that take 5 minutes to charge and have a range in excess of 600 miles.
      Those EV’s will outperform current ICE cars in every way with the possible exception of top speed. They will not only be MUCH cheaper to run and maintain they may also be cheaper to buy in the near future too. Anyone who denies this has their head in the sand.

      “Imagine the environmental impact of a billion dumped cars”
      Well this comment is kind of stupid. All cars are dumped eventually. As an EV has many less moving parts and with battery technology allowing they may last much longer that equivalent ICE.
      “This is where F1 plans to come into play. Its cars are already powered by the most efficient ICE-hybrid engines in the history of the automobile, which deliver record-setting thermal efficiencies of over 50 per cent”
      Which is no where near as efficient as an EV which is around 95%.

      owners who will at some stage need to scrap batteries at the end of their useful life

      Batteries are more or less 100% recyclable and won’t damage the environment. Hydro Carbons will always pollute. End of story.

      My critique doesn’t end there but I don’t have the time or energy…

      1. My critique doesn’t end there but I don’t have the time or energy

        Roughly translated, ‘I have no references or numbers for the nonsense I’ve just typed, so I’ll leave it there’

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          13th November 2019, 15:00

          I’m even worst than Sean N. I’m not exactly a super-electric enthusiast. But I’m an herectic deserving to be burnt by the Inquisition.

          I prefer the current hybrid engine sounds to the V8, V10 and V12.

        2. @frasier Lol you read my mind.

          FE quicker than F1 in 10 years? Would that be the current F1? Or the 2021 F1? Or the 2029 F1?

          600 miles and a 5 minute charge? Sounds as practical as ICE’s are, so sign me up…however, if this was that close EV would be making much more progress and headlines.

          Batteries ‘more or less’ recyclable? Which is it? As far as I know, the internals of batteries are highly toxic. Hydrocarbons will always pollute, and they are used to manufacture EV’s and their batteries.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            13th November 2019, 18:28

            Wow what a response. Pity nobody bothered to go away and research it themselves before making some short sighted comments.

            I’ve included some references below. Have a read.

            F1 quicker than F1 in 10 years? Well its a prediction. Its not nailed on, but the technology already exists to make a car accelerate faster than an F1 car so it could happen.

            Imagine a slightly bigger FE car with big slicks and a 700KW engine, that’s about 3-4 times more than the current FE engine. That would do it. Electric motors are very scaleable.
            There are already motors this size out there. An aluminium air battery would keep the weight down and no need to recharge.

            As for a 600 mile range well a Tesla has a 300 mile range now, if you added a small aluminium air range extender, say 5 times smaller than the main lithium ion that would give you another 300 on top.

            (aluminium air batteries have an energy denisity 9 times that of lithium ion)

            EV engines REALLY DO have much better thermal efficiency than an F1 engine, between 90 and 98% compared to F1’s paltry 50%.

            Ultra and Super Capacitors have amazing energy density and can be charged extremely quickly.

            They can easily take a big charge in 5 minutes and when mated to a standard lithium ion battery for robustness and safety a 5 minute charge time will soon be a reality.

            ‘More or less’ 100% recyclable means they are 100% recyclable but its expensive. As battery and recycle tech improves then this cost will plummet.

            All these things exist now or will happen in the next 5 or 10 years.

            DO THE RESEARCH before you shout people down!







          2. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk

            An aluminium air battery would keep the weight down and no need to recharge.

            Apparently those batteries are only good for a weak current draw. So you’ll see them in those Aussie outback races where range is key. On a Hill climb sprint they’d last 50 metres

            What I think we’ll see is the downscaling, or some kind of merger in race track styles that suit or even things out for EVs. And why not when we’ve seen historic F1 tracks butchered already?

            Think Rally Cross with some steep Hills and some tighter corners.
            We are seeing something similar with Mountain bikes. You can now race electric fat bikes in the mountains in the snow or down on the beach in the deep sand.
            Things are moving very fast on 2-wheels and costs for awesome pieces of kit are dropping . I can already see motocross dying and a series based on a crossover between Mountain bikes and motorcycles taking over. China have caught the Japanese napping on two wheels. The quality is now there with the Sur-Ron.

          3. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk thanks for the links Sean, see how much more educational it is with some background?

            But, there’s always a but, some comments.

            The viability of an electric vehicle stands or falls on its power to weight-range and for most, recharge time. It’s why the electric bicycle is brilliant but the electric car is severely niche in its usefulness.

            Perhaps the new Al-air battery isn’t a cold fusion style con, but it certainly sounds like it, especially as you can be sure James Dyson has run his eye over the technology and rejected it.

            The articles on existing batteries basically said we can dismantle the cars, recycle the batteries either for static power or starting again, but it’s difficult, dangerous and dirty. Lithium can be nasty stuff and has a well deserved reputation for needing careful handling. It also apparently costs 5x as much to recycle as to start by digging fresh minerals.

            The article on cost/mile of electric cars didn’t take all factors into account and didn’t present as a balanced comparison, I’d need a more rigorous analysis to be convinced. It might have to include your hotel bill while your car is being re-charged ; – )

            Of course the article on FE simply said it was much slower than F1, but we all knew that.

            As for 5-10 years away, no way, you’re dreaming.

          4. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk As I said, if EVs could go 600 km and take 5 min to recharge, sign me up. I’m not anti-EV. My comment was not meant to ‘shout you down’ but rather just to point out that much of what you are talking about is not as easy nor as near as you are making it seem. I’ve read through the articles you have referenced, thank you, and if anything is apparent it is that there is still much work to be done. It is like you are taking primarily only the positives from these different technologies, while ignoring the negatives, and claiming all this wonderful stuff is just around the corner in literally a handful of years.

            The EV proponents you cited are very negative toward the petrol industry, understandably, but they remind us about the footprint to extract, refine, and transport crude oil, while ignoring the reality that the EV cars need all this fossil fuel to be manufactured, and the electricity to charge batteries has to come from somewhere too.

            I also know that distance ranges for EVs are often stated only under ideal lab conditions, and as soon as one needs heating or air conditioning in one’s car, the range drops dramatically.

            I like the article and the concept that talks about repurposing batteries rather than recycling them, but what about when those batteries can no longer be repurposed?

            Interestingly, and just by coincidence, a news headline popped up on my phone today about deep sea mining and how that is being explored off the coast of Spain, and it is with cobalt in mind, for batteries. So cobalt is already becoming an issue and now a whole other debate is about to start, I would suggest, about what further damage we might be doing to our oceans if we need to go there for the substances to make batteries.

            All this just to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with the concepts you have brought up, but you are making it all sound too easy-peasy, and it’s not. For now there is no practical and convenient EV that I could possibly buy that would allow me to do what I have to do in life. I’m sure that will change, but so just think it will be quite a while, and I see much more immediate future in hybrids that still need sips of gasoline (less and less as time goes on) to keep batteries topped up on the fly, for the on-board electric motors.

          5. Just like @frasier mentions, we are happy you included a bit more reference for statements that seemed to be more “off the cuff” in your first post there @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk.

            I do find some things where I see things differently, or doubt how well argumented your post is though.

            The first one – and pretty crucial one is this

            but the technology already exists to make a car accelerate faster than an F1 car so it could happen.

            Yeah, the technology exists. Off course it does. F1 even used some of it before it was ditched to avoid a costly battle in some areas.
            F1 itself could be way faster if they would make the lightest engine possible, the most advanced suspension that is technically viable, if the teams could do more in the software, use variable aerodynamics, far higher amounts of both kinetic and thermal engergy recovery etc.
            But cost (and making the competition more even) is the reason much of that is restricted.

            FE is also restricted on cost, one of the reasons it is popular with manufacturers is because its cost are relatively (compared to F1, but also WEC, DTM etc) paltry.

            The thing is, competition with F1 – remember, several F1 team affliates also work on batterie development & energy recovery systems, even supply them to FE – is one where FE would really have to stock up on investment.

            Overall, even if all you mention is true and realistic – it would ALSO improve F1 since the HYBRID component there is what helps get from originally app. 35% thermal efficiency to the 50% that can be achieved by now. So better batteries, etc will greatly improve that efficiency even more. Also Remember, unless all energy that goes into those batteries comes from Wind or Solar, to really compare the overall energy efficiency, you would have to count in the 30-67% of electricity is actually produced by power plants with efficiencies of between some 27% and 65% as well (let’s ignore losses in the network for now).

            A final note – when we are talking about what you can all put into an FE car, remember weight is a huge limit for battery driven cars, even more than with F1 cars that are deemed too heavy. All the tech you mention will be in conflict with the weight increase if you want to go for a good racing car.

            Hm, maybe PS as well then. The thing is, both these series can influence, push each other into developments that can be used in the wider world.

            Driving electrically with more than about 30-40% is not something we will be able to achieve anytime soon. Reasons are technical, financial, market cycles go into it – it will take decades to have ppl buy enough new cars to change the vehicle mix, when countries have current “stock” between 12-17 years old – but also practical: Where do you load all those cars when you live in a tower? Building the grid to allow as many power outlets or charging points to replace gas stations would take about 2-3 decades in most western countries for example.

      2. I love the sound of ICE but we are in the 21st century now. The march of EV technology is unstoppable. I’d predict FE will be potentially quicker than F1 in 10 years.

        Based on what? Battery tech development (not going to happen in 10 years), car design budgets (not even close) or promotion dollars and visibility (not even close).

        1. I think you have little idea of how much money is going into battery development, and how quickly things might change.

          For example, with simple modifications, existing battery technology can facilitate very fast charging – and potentially last for 500,000 km:

          In ten years’ time, it’s unlikely there will be any ICE manufacturing.

          1. LOL nigel.

            Even if it is proven in labs (so far you mention simulations only) it will take about 5 years to get it in a road test setting and most likely 7-10 years (optimistically) to introduce that to serial production.

            So then in a decade we might be able to buy the first of those. But since it is new tech it will be expensive and small scale.

            There will be ICE engines used for trucks and semi trucks, for trains, for ships, for construction vehicles etc. for at least the next two decades, even if manufacturers do shift most of their attention to EV development.

            This is not a SW update – and even then, look at how long it takes Boeing to solve the software at the basis of their grounded 737Max planes. THAT is the real world, where safety, regulation, investment, product cycles, training etc come into play.

          2. Nigel, do you even understand what the link says? It has nothing to with having lighter batteries with more capacity. Biggest issue for any electric motorsport is the battery weight. It puts a hard limit on the capacity which in turn limits your range and power output. Your link is about temperature modulation for fast charging.

    2. Exactly!

  2. The easiest way to start is, again, how the race calendar gets organized. Just a few little tweaks would already be a move for the better: For example, pair Singapore and Japan with Russia as a standalone-event instead of Singapore-Russia, or Japan-Russia (as in 2014 and ’18). Azerbaijan-Hungary instead of Azerbaijan-Canada, or even better Azerbaijan-Russia, and China-Vietnam in 2021 should both still be at the beginning of the season then.

    1. With logistics accounting for nearly half of the carbon footprint, what you’re saying takes on a whole lot more importance, @jerejj. I know it’s been a common refrain of yours, let’s hope Liberty wake up and smell the CO₂!

      1. @jerejj @phylyp That might be a bit more tricky since most teams have 5 sets of containers for some equipment and then it’s a question of masses and emission about which emit most. Those containers (probably highest mass, but lower emission transport) or the staff and cars related which evolves during the year and can’t be shipped long in advance.
        I recommend watching this to have a better view on logistics challenge.

        Can F1 optimize logistics on all fronts at once? That’s a big ask but good that they are looking into it. Then will have to see how it translates into actions.

        1. My sailing ship fleet awaits. Could easily handle the cargo shipping of F1’s annual 7 race global calendar.

          Liberty wants to reduce “the emissions created by broadcasting” – That’s great. They’re cancelling the Sky F1 deal! Will reduce emissions by gigatons of hot air.

          1. Exactly @jimmi-cynic. Let them develop special sailing ship transports.

            Off course investing into this kit to be alble to have some of it stay “local” is a big part of what they will have to look into if they want to improve on shipping everything around @jeanrien.

            As a Logistics professional, I would actually consider applying to work with F1 to tackle this challenge :-)

    2. I don’t disagree with you @jerejj on this point, but the cities that host (pay) for the races want to do so at a time that suits their needs tourism wise. Also F1 themselves chase the dry weather, which is counter productive in my opinion. That again brings me back to the point of holding races at dedicated (proper) purpose built race tracks rather than ad hock St circuits.

      1. @johnrkh @jeanrien
        Well, the weather-aspect isn’t a problem in any of my scenarios brought up above. The phase of the season with which I have the biggest problem is the one, featuring Singapore, Japan, and Russia. I struggle to justify not having Singapore and Japan on subsequent weekends when there are Australia-Bahrain, and Azerbaijan-Canada doubles despite those distances being far greater than the Singapore-Suzuka one. Singapore and Suzuka have formed a double-header twice (2009, and ’15) before, so it should be OK to do that again. The Japanese GP hasn’t always taken place ahead of the 2nd Monday in October, so that isn’t really a valid argument against that, and even with that taken into account, the Singapore GP could just be placed on October 4 (next year’s dates) and then Russia on September 20, i.e., Russia two weeks after Monza, then Singapore two weeks after that followed by Suzuka seven days later. I’m fine with how the race calendar is organized for the most part except for this one little part of it since Russia moved back to being part of the late-season flyaway-phase. Alternatively, China could shift back to this phase of the season to form a double-header with Japan, or Vietnam, which would then make the Singapore-Russia double more justifiable. Or Baku-Azerbaijan either preceding or following Japan-Singapore.

  3. Liberty now needs to convert this week’s announcement into clear-cut action with an absolute minimum of delay

    Ha! Nice one Dieter…

    Anyway, the sooner F1 gets out of the pockets of the oil baron regimes the better. They have way too much power from money they didn’t earn but rather from the resources of the land of their forefathers.

    I don’t hold much stock in this bio synthetic fuel hoopla, but here’s to hoping.

  4. The category up-ended the established order by preaching green sermons in city centres across the globe

    ‘Sermons’, doesn’t that say all we need to know about the new religion?

  5. Finally a good article from credible journalist on this. Hopefully F1 will run proper marketing campaign that could be received positively by global audience. Just a word of caution about bio-fuel. Because the crops (be it corn, canola or cane) for this particular use are not intended for human or even animal consumption, farmers are free to apply generous doses of chemical pesticides and fertilizers to maximize harvest. This, in turn, kills the soil and everything in it…insects, worms, etc… Just something that should be considered.

    1. @gpfacts Exactly lets not allow the ‘cure’ to be worse than the disease.

    2. I think this is where the part about

      i.e. will; not divert crops to fuel, whether directly or through land usage.

      @johnrkh, @gpfacts.

      That clearly means NOT using any crops grown specifically for making bio fuel (since it would compete for land use).

      You are right though, that this is one of the huge factors that make the move to bio fuels as it started (is it almost a decade ago now?) not all that positive for the environment.

      1. @bascb

        You are right though, that this is one of the huge factors that make the move to bio fuels as it started (is it almost a decade ago now?) not all that positive for the environment.

        Or for world food production.

        1. That too yeah.

      2. @johnrkh @bascb Thanks…I thought I am gonna be kicked around for being negative about green energy again.

        1. @gpfacts I am in favour of the move away from fossil fuels, but as with most things it’s a all about the implementation.

  6. Given the massive improvement in batteries in the past 10 years, I think it is fair to say that battery power will be the industry standard going forward 10 years. On the road, they will be able to last for many hundreds of miles and have incredible acceleration.

    Imagine the embarrassment if FE were to be slower than F1 at the same tracks in 10 years time over the same distance and not be able to change due to the contract…

    1. Given the massive improvement in batteries in the past 10 years

      Numbers? Comparison with fossil fuels? Any facts at all?

      On the road, they will be able to last for many hundreds of miles and have incredible acceleration

      and it all ended happily ever after ; – ) or something like…

      Imagine the embarrassment if FE were to be slower than F1 at the same tracks in 10 years time over the same distance

      I’m going to imagine you meant this to be the other way around. The reason they don’t race on the same tracks is because FE cars are so slow, Formula Ford pace according to Lewis Hamilton. That’s the reality when your target is more than one lap of the Nordshleiffe or a quick dash up Pikes Peak.

      1. @frasier

        Radio control vehicles – LIPO batteries less than half the size and weight with 4 times the density. From personal experience.

        Laptops followed by mobile phones followed by smart phones is the obvious example of huge and fast progress in battery tech.
        Then you have miniature machines taking advantage of light weight small high density batetries that have appeared in the last 5 years.. Drones, robotics etc many many more

      2. @frasier

        Are you absolutely sure that current long circuit race tracks are the future? EVs utterly wipe the floor with ICE up hills. Maybe there will be a merger of track styles to actually favour these high torque vehicles?

        Currently we have the superb Sur-Ron Light Bee EV competing with and beating ICE motorcross and enduro bikes on the tighter hillier circuits. Especially Hare and Hound events.
        When you have that amount of fun on tap for little money and little hassle, very few fit young men are going to stay at home worrying about F1 or FE. They will be out competing thanks to EV technology and the many pros.
        Trust me. EVs will bring in more competitors just as it brings in more people to cycling. Motorsport on TV will be for rainy days only.

        1. @bigjoe I’m an electric bicycle owner. Bought it when I was waiting for an operation to keep riding as a keen cyclist. Found it so much fun I’ve kept it since being fixed, it’s great around town and on a flattish route the battery lasts 50 miles.

          Yes, the mobile phone is responsible for all these small practical gadgets, who predicted that?

          Now the sciencey bit…

          A human at 100W output for say 80kg benefits hugely on a power to weight basis by adding 250W and only about 8kg. Best thing, the battery and the average rider both need a rest/recharge at about the same time. Makes perfect sense.

          Increasing weight, complexity, payload and range all erode this advantage and crucially the get-you-home option of simply pedalling your bike disappears with all other means of transport. I had to laugh when Tesla showed a picture of an electric truck, seriously, that’s total nonsense.

          Batteries are still a factor of 7 less energy dense than fossil fuels and then there’s the re-charge time. It’s going to take another mobile phone Li-ion style revolution to address that.

          Hybrids, small ICE, town driving, yes, now that makes sense, probably why the UK government withdrew the subsidies for hybrids, that’s government for you..

          1. All very solid points @frasier!

            Also, I would like to add that even IF battery tech improves with huge steps in the next 5 years (to get that to market within a decade) – not all that unthinkable, I guess – it would take massive amounts of vehicles sold to actually make a dent in the current fleet.
            It would also take manufacturers dropping their margins (or governments to chip in massively) to make EVs actually a good buy for more than the top 10% of the market.

            The current vehicle stock in most modern countries has an average age of about 11+ years (both US and EU wide average). That means it will take a decade if from now on everyone would only buy EVs.

            With the amount of EVs being actually available amounting to not more than maybe 12-20% of the market (when the latest run of models hits the market in 2020-2021 the expectation is about 15 million/year, car production in 2018 was about 70 million with another 25 million commercial vehicles for a total of almost 100 million.) it would take quite a while more to come even to a 10% of all vehicles being EV.

  7. I think there’s a lot of dangerous thinking at the moment by car people in the current ‘climate change will kill us’ vibe going around the west.
    By that I mean everyone seems to automatically assume there will be a switchover from ICE cars to EVs. Dieter himself noting it could take 30 years. But could it?
    You’ve got the petrol heads and oil industry investors heavily highlighting the cons of EVs and the EV enthusiasts pointing out the considerable pros.
    What people seem to be missing, is that deep down the green movement wants to massively limit car use altogether.
    This has gone right over the heads of pro- ICE car people. They are knocking down EVs not realising the biggest cons apply to all large vehicles, especially when most people drive cars with 3 empty seats. Motorsports seem to be preparing to ‘go woke’ and nothing else.
    I’m certain everyone here notice the huge increase in small personal electric vehicles. If only for fun at the moment, the electric two wheel movement is on the increase.
    Thanks to huge strides in battery technology we have some quite amazing scooters, balance boards/wheels, E-bikes and already Dual purpose crossover E-bike/motorcycles such as the groundbreaking high quality Sur-Ron Light Bee that was released at just over $2k and now sells for under $4k.
    Vespa on board, Harley Davidson on board. Two companies synonymous with smoke and noise providing very cool cleaner and friendlier alternatives to the car.
    To people who haven’t tried E-bikes, they might seem nerdy or naff, but these are super quick exhilarting little machines with masses of torque. Compare these to the increasing chances of being stuck in a traffic jam and companies (certainly on mainland Europe) paying employees not to arrive by car. We ought to be envisioning a car-less future.
    For people who think that’s too far fetched, then look up recent discoveries of plastics in our water supply and food chain. Much of this has come from car tires, that are not in fact rubber, they use nylons and plastics.
    We are not just talking about the new generation or even millennials adopting simpler fun ways to get around. Look on any mountain bike forum or group, you have middle age people literally ‘life beginning at 50’ on awesome E-bikes.
    Germany and Benelux regions seeing massive growth in E-bikes. There is a current vision by Yamaha that sees city roads closed to vehicles with more than 2 seats or over a certain size. Yamaha have produced a brochure of these ‘future’ concept personal vehicles.

    As for Formula One going woke. Then let’s see the cars advertise environmentally friendly products, fair trade, locally sourced, bio etc.
    Whatever powers the motors, the money coming in is still highly reliant on oil for shipping their sponsor’s goods and using their products. At the moment you only have Tesla as a mass car producer not producing ICE and they don’t need to advertise or sponsor motorsport to sell cars and probably never will.

    1. @bigjoe If you have followed the whole CO2 demonising movement ethos as I have, it’s clear that it’s the modern world that is under attack and you’re quite right, limiting personal freedom of movement is part of that agenda.

      Freedom is a genie that’s already out of the bottle however. These things have a way of reaching crisis point in terms of what the public will put up with. The gilet jaune fuel price protest movement in France and the Dutch farmers blocking the roads with their tractors over environmental restrictions that undermine their competitive position are recent examples.


      Countering this we have XR disrupting city travel but they have got into strife with the travelling public in East London, doubtless this will spread when the ‘camping out’ season returns in spring.

    2. @bigjoe Well said mate.

      Amongst friends, I’ve been saying for a long time that the whole concept where cities are pushing to limit or ban ICE vehicles in the coming years to be flawed.

      I am all for limiting car use in Metropolitan areas. I haven’t driven to work for a good part of a decade now. The city I live has reasonably good public transport, and there is no real reason to drive in, however that doesn’t stop thousands 1 occupant SUVs clogging up the main arteries to the CBD.

      I feel that cities of the future should have some sort of an outer boundary, beyond which personal vehicles (except for bicycles – not saying this doesn’t pose its own set of problems) aren’t allowed. All movement in a CBD area shall be via electric trams/buses/trains or plan old walking.

  8. Once again, the British PC global warming loonies want to ruin a sport over something nobody cares about. Go be woke somewhere else, you arent proper Motorsport fans.

    1. @Nige
      No!. Proper motorsport fans and a certain driver can just blame it on meat. But only westerners you understand. Africa, South America and Asia, combined with 2 billion Muslims won’t be told. They can’t be told. They just are living like the ancestors of the woke westerners did.

  9. Does anyone really care? Ok, probably someone does (or makes living out of saying they do), but does a significant proportion of the population, let alone viewers, care?

    Most people don’t drive hybrids because it’s environmentally friendly. They do it because it’s subsidized and electricity is cheaper than fuel. ie people buy these things mostly because of economical reasons.

    Or nowadays even because these electric cars are actually faster than a similarly priced petrol car.

  10. Electricity os good for road cars, but the future of Formula 1 are gravitationally flying pods at ultrasonic speeds.

    1. I mean Mercedes, Ferrari and others should spend money on research on gravitons, gravitation, dark energy and its particles and ways to to control them.

      1. Peter Waters (@)
        14th November 2019, 15:27

        Did I just see the Enterprise dock at the Space Station?

  11. Great in depth article.

    Interesting that a good number of the posts here and elsewhere are all about the ICE when the actual numbers shown in the article demonstrate just how insignificant the ICE is in the scheme of things.

    Whilst I think Liberty’s sentiment is admirable, I suspect that a lot of practicalities of things like logistics will prove to be almost impossible to achieve.

    The use of ships to transport things between countries – I have no idea how long it takes to get a container from UK to the Australia but I can’t see teams having their cars/parts ready in time to get them in a container and to the track in time for the first race unless they run the previous years car.

    Same applies for in season development – how much of a delay will there be before the new development makes it to a track.

    More an more I fear that motor racing and many other sports will be relegated to history and replaced by E sports.

  12. To kill perceptions that F1 is a dirty simply because its cars run on hydrocarbon fuels, the objective is to move towards a net-zero carbon footprint, with the major focus being on power units, to be fuelled 100% by fully advanced, sustainable fuels by 2030.

    One of the things F1 is really good at is exploiting loopholes in the rules. Normally the FIA then run around with some silicon sealant and plug up the loop holes. Maybe it would be worth creating loopholes to encourage teams to develop the new fuels and even more advanced hybrid systems that F1 needs to have to meet Liberty’s commitment. For example, say a car was allowed to have two fuel tanks, one of which had to have the normal 95 Octane fuel in it and the other could be for some other “sustainable” fuel or oil. Also, why does an F1 engine have to have just one fuel injector? Why can’t an engine have two?

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