Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020

Honda exit shows F1 needs a “more positive impact on the planet” – Hamilton

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says Honda’s decision to leave Formula 1 shows how far the sport has to go to improve its environmental credentials.

Honda announced last week that they would leave Formula 1 in order to refocus their resources on green technologies such as hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles. The company said it “needs to funnel its corporate resources in research and development into the areas of future power unit and energy technologies, including fuel cell vehicle (FCV) and battery EV (BEV) technologies, which will be the core of carbon-free technologies.”

CEO Takahiro Hachigo said that the move away from F1 was purely motivated by the need to work on reducing its carbon emissions: “At this time we are aiming for carbon neutrality in 2050,” he said. “This will be a big challenge for Honda so I hope that our fans will support us for us taking on that challenge as well.”

Hamilton has regularly used his high-profile position within the sport to draw attention to environmental concerns. He said Honda’s decision to leave shows F1 has “a long way to go” in this regard.

“I heard that they’re leaving – I’ve not read about it, so I don’t know what their reasons are but I’ve got a vague idea,” he said. “It’s definitely sad to see them leaving.

“One aspect I understand: As a sport we have a long way to go we have a lot of work to do to move towards having more of a positive impact on the planet.

Mercedes announced on Tuesday it is refocussing its F1 image around its sportscar sub-brand AMG. It also presented a new “Electric First” strategy, launched six new electric vehicles across the EQ brand – which is tied to the marque’s Formula E team – with the F1 High Performance Powertrain research and development directly supporting the projects.

Hamilton said he saw Mercedes’ commitment as a clear indicator that F1’s technologies could be part of and push forward a move towards clean technologies: “If you see what Mercedes have just come out with in terms of their long-term goals, I think the responsibility in the industry is to push technology and this is at the forefront of technology and innovation.”

Such changes will be ‘key’ to F1’s continued relevancy to car makers, says Hamilton. “Changes need to come, that’s for sure, moving forwards. But I think Mercedes have shown that they’re committed to being a part of that change and pushing the technology. And I think that’s real key.”

Formula 1 announced last year it intends to become a net zero producer of carbon by 2030.

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2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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63 comments on “Honda exit shows F1 needs a “more positive impact on the planet” – Hamilton”

  1. More pontificating.
    I guess that’s why Honda is designing a new 2.6L ICE twin turbo Indycar engine.

    1. But that engine runs on Methol something not on normal fuel.

  2. F1 does have a positive impact – it makes me happy.

  3. Hamilton having to look for competition off-track since F1 provides so little on it.
    Also let’s see if he ends up quitting the mafia instead of trying to make it ethical.

    1. What’s this bit about mafia? I didn’t get it.

      1. I guess Jay means that if Lewis is unhappy about the way stewards conspire against him, about how the sport is a polluting mafia sponsored by Aramco, Castrol, Shell (but don’t dare to mention Petronas) and how it is losing relevance, so why does he belong to it all?

        1. Better to change things from the inside then the outside

          1. But what can he change? ICE fossil fuels transportation? These are things that make up F1. The truth is F1s most celebrated driver has little affinity for what F1 actually is. I agree that if you read Honda’s statement it’s clear that F1 has an existential crisis on its hands, it won’t exist as it is today in a few years time, most manufacturers have migrated to FE. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hamilton leave the series at the end of this year if he matches the numbers of Schumacher I think he’d be happier and the fans of this, soon to be gone, series would be happy too. Everyone wins.

          2. I simply can’t believe that so many believe Honda’s self promoting exit reasons!

            They have ALWAYS used F1 as a training ground for the future engineering leaders of the organisation and come and gone as required. Unless funds become an issue as in 08 – even then, they wanted an out because they had achieved their aims and not the wins.

            Honda is the biggest ENGINE manufacturer in the world. Even without the jets. They created a hybrid right at the beginning and let the gains be stolen by others.

            Are we really supposed to expect that by a week Tuesday they are all in for electric and alternative? Of course not. They want the resource back at home, fully up skilled in ERS H to further develop their next technological march. They clearly intend a move to the varied future hopefully finding something that marks them out in the interim. To the naysayers. Watch for the development of the H – there was a reason they threatened out when that was possibly to be axed. They are moving on there.

            The very next day they committed to an Indy Car hybrid engine. They are a sporting company and now have that skill set. They can’t match Mercedes so why not a two engine series already behind the curve?

            Wonder where those skills will come from and don’t say ‘oh but that’s Honda America!’ It’s Honda! Full stop. It’s what they do unless they can totally dominate such as MotoGP and even there, it’s yes, another teaching opportunity.

            While laudable and a good mission, if anyone thinks the sheer political will from a few around the world will move the everyone to electric cars bypassing hybrid without a unseen engineering, physics and experimental cost free change within a generation or two then they are short sighted. Japan and in particular Honda work three or four generations down the road.

            Don’t believe me? Look at the date they started on their first Hybrid. I worked for them and managed training for them for some years and at the time they were funding hybrid the whole industry thought they were mad.

            Now who is mad?

          3. Sorry @carlosmedrano

            By the way it’s easier peeing out of the tent than into it…

  4. The new Indycar engine sounds rather similar to the current F1 engine (without the MGU-H). I presume they’re going to try and use what they learned in F1 to get a head-start with the new Indy engine.

    The Honda CEO’s statement about moving away from F1 due to needing to become carbon neutral doesn’t seem to make too much sense in the context of their commitment to building the Indycar engine. Am I missing something around what Indycar are planning to do that will move it to being more “electric” than F1 over the next few years?

    1. Nah you’re right. Dieter posted a good article about it

    2. *would not have said they have no plans for Formula E

    3. Same situation that Honda, Toyota and BMW’s exit from F1 In 2008/2009 “because global crysis”. Millions of dollars spent and poor results. Now the excuse is pollution.

    4. Honda said they were leaving F1 to focus on more environmentally conscious systems – not that they were leaving motorsport altogether.
      They have different budgets for different activities.

      No point to all these comments trying to make Honda out to be a hypocrite.

    5. They need the money. The Indycar engine program costs a tiny fraction of what the F1 engine program costs and it has fantastic marketing ROI.

      The F1 program on the other hand is a lot more costly. If they turned all those dollars and facilities into R&D resources for production cars, it would be enough to make a real difference in car sales for the next 10 years.

  5. Paul Nigel Bertenshaw
    8th October 2020, 22:43

    Biosphere, not planet!

  6. All the banging on about engines – Let’s have a talk about tyres.

    How many sets brought to each weekend – how many sets are discarded without even seeing tarmac.

    This must be the most wasteful part of the sport? Thousands of sets as they are designed specifically for each circuit? Why don’t we standard rubber? The teams choose the compounds for each race – tyre manufacturer stays out of it – I bet we would get far better racing?

    As for Hamilton talking about Honda leaving and highlighting Green – good on him I’m happy he has voice and uses it for good things.

    1. Racing Dave: The tyres are not designed per each circuit. Pirelli produces one spec per year. Within that spec there are 5 compounds (C1-C5), or formerly known as: hyper soft, super soft, soft, medium, and hard, plus the full wet and intermediate wet for when it rains. Pirelli chooses 3 of them for each circuit (soft, medium, and hard; depending upon the conditions of the track and historical data they’ll either go more towards the softer end of the spectrum (C3-C5), straight from the middle (C2-C4) or the harder (C1-C3) plus the wets. They do not make different tyres for every circuit.

      1. Good point racing Dave.
        With each car having access to 11 dry sets as well inters and wets that is about 1000 tyres for the cars each race! 20 000+ over a season.
        That is a hellofalot of tyres!
        The cost to make, transport and dispose of those, to the environment seems excessive.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      9th October 2020, 21:18

      @racingdave You don’t seem aware that the tyres are recycled by grinding them up into pellets and burning them at extremely high temps in power production facilities in eastern europe with very few exhaust products.

      1. @racingdave
        You think burning tyre pellets is good for the environment? Really?
        Do tell how they burn rubber and yet don’t release carbon dioxide and countless other toxic by products?
        Does a magic fairy inhale the gases and turn them into trees?

  7. God I wish he’d just go away, live on a commune, and raise flatulent less cows or something. This is auto racing…….AUTO RACING, and the minute Hamilton and the environuts get their way, and this becomes totally powered by batteries, I, and from comments online, many others, are out.

    1. Oh no the environuts are coming to get us! How can we survive without the people who comment online! Tis the end of the werld

    2. @jblank

      Great name by the way judging by the comment.

      I feel your pain…
      And love it. It must do your head in that the possibly to be greatest racer we have seen has time to consider the world he lives in.

      A certain part (or several) of the world could do with some leaders that think the same way.

  8. David Beverley
    9th October 2020, 3:48

    Says the guy who regularly uses gigantic private ships, has a range of supercars, flies around the world constantly…

  9. Lewis believes in humans being treated equally and leaving the planet a better place for our children, cant wait to hear the bots tell me how thats a bad thing

    1. Maybe because he flies around the world driving racing cars for a living?

      It’s like when royalty preach to their subjects about the importance of sharing and being humble, it’s barefaced hypocrisy.

      1. It wasn’t that long ago that he was flying one of his dogs back and forth between LA and Britain to be with him and the other dog at races in his private jet (apparently the dog liked living in LA better).

    2. It isnt a bad thing. Its just an excuse these people use to ignore the problem and do nothing themselves. Just a bunch of hypocrites.

    3. The thing he does to make money doesn’t leave the planet a better place for our children. It’s just about the furthest thing from that.

      1. And vast amounts of the money he makes from a sport you follow goes to making the world a better place for thousands of disadvantaged children right now.

  10. This guy is an immense hypocrite – If F1’s so bad, why can’t he boycott it & leave like everything else the left does.

  11. Can we all stop pretending it’s not just about money?

  12. Yes, there are a ton of manufacturers in FE, it’s good PR even if next to nobody actually watches that sport. Just being able to point to it and say, “look, we so electric and green” is a great thing, and it helps that there’s no chassis development and the teams are relatively small so the budget is low too.

    But that’s the thing, engines in F1 are complex, they’re expensive, one manufacturer is so far ahead nobody has a chance of catching up due to restrictive rules. And all of that needs to come out of, essentially, the PR budget of an automotive company?

    So nah, it’s not the greenness of the engine. It’s the budget and the zero chance of any significant gain on Mercedes that is keeping manufacturers from entering the sport. Going back to simpler, normal racing engines or more simple turbo-charged hybrids might help, but ultimately, I think the sport is better of transition to a more spec-like formula. Either have a relatively cheap engine model with equal power output by multiple manufacturers, or have Ferrari provide the grid. Right now, there’s only three works teams, and two of them are constantly under threat of calling it quits on the works-team end of things. Renault only really exists because their Red Bull relation deteriorated. I’ve no clue whether Mercedes wants a works team or not, the rumors has them flip-flopping all over the place on that.

    Ultimately, I think the motor company hold on F1 is going either because of rule changes, or simply because board members and other stakeholders in motor companies are done playing F1. We’re down to three and that number isn’t going up, it can only go down. I’d rather have 10 individual teams with a single spec of engines (with a budget cap and much more relaxed aero rules within that cap), than 3 works teams with maybe 2 independents and 5 junior teams anyways.

    1. @aiii I actually don’t think at all that Hamilton was talking about the green credentials of the power units; the PUs in F1 today are spectacularly efficient and the research and development from them can go directed to BEV technologies – as with what Mercedes are doing. Their F1 research, as Porsche’s LMP1-H research, led their FE powertrain development.

      The visuals of F1, however, are not of a sport that is striving to pursue green technology. The hybrid units were launched as an apology and the sport downplays the technological achievements. Can you reasonably say, as an auto-maker, that it is a good use of resources to plunge your R&D into a sport where the elegant, efficient brilliance of all that work will be dismissed in favour of a (highly fictional and rose-tinted) view of V12s, again and again, by public and commentators?

      1. What is fictional about the view that the V12 and V10 era produced the best sounding engines in the history of F1?

        Ignoring, diminishing or belittling that fact, and the effect that sound has on the emotion of human beings is wel quite sad.
        Especially, since every other line of motorsport can get around the whole environmental discussion by using ICE while burning food sources…

        1. If you believe V12 or V10 is the best sound then that’s subjective. The fictional element comes in from believing they had greater reliability than the modern hybrid power units, which are run far longer distances and for far more races than V12s or V10s ever did.

          1. @hazelsouthwell The V8/10/12’s were built to performance regulations, not to the reliability-focused regulations that the V6 currently is. There’s no comparison in that regard.
            And don’t forget how many Honda engines expired in the back of a McLaren or Toro Rosso… Or were replaced before they did, attracting associated grid penalties.
            Same goes for the fuel economy and thermal efficiency – they were as efficient as they needed to be within the regulations of the time.

            Of course, the argument stands that if F1 were burning carbon-neutral fuels (like many other racing series have been doing for quite a while already) then F1 wouldn’t be in the quandary that it finds itself in now.
            But instead of actually ‘going green’ F1 chose to keep accepting oil money instead. They didn’t need to make the engines more complex and expensive – they just needed to stop feeding them fossil fuel.

          2. @hazelsouthwell:
            Race fans collectively getting goose bumps the moment they hear that sound isn’t subjective. It is a fact that sound triggers deep emotions. Getting rid of the sound of F1 and not replacing it with something that is capable of triggering the same emotion, from a show, entertainment and financial pov has been a faux pas.

            Secondly, the greater reliability is nothing more than a performance regulation as argued above. Furthermore, it is the reliability regulations that have eliminated unpredictability from the sport. Unpredictability F1 so desperately is looking for.

            Imho, the reliability regulations are one of the worst things that has happened to modern F1, changing the paradigm from sprint race to endurance. A loss in natural unpredictability is a loss in entertainment…

      2. That’s a fair point, but that also comes down the PR aspect of it all. At this point, nobody is able to advertise with a hybrid because the world doesn’t want hybrids in that sense. Hybrids are a stop-gap to the electric future, so it doesn’t appear as something that would be very marketable to me at all. No matter how low you get your emissions, people will ask about your electric cars, not your hybrid tech.

        Much more than the hybrid aspect of the tech, I’d have expected F1 would try to move to be on the bleeding edge of artificial fuel, maybe there’s a role there they can play in getting to a zero emission synthetic fuel for ICE. Maybe the major brands bankrolling F1 in the future isn’t automotive, but companies like Petronas, instead?

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      9th October 2020, 21:06

      @aiii Pontificate all you want but what just about everybody who has an opinion on this is missing is where the money is coming from. Since the 90s it’s been a money formula. The sponsors dictate the sport. Currently that’s car manufacturers. It may be that the future money comes from synthetic fuel manufacturers. If you want to know the future of the sport, look at who’s investing in it.

  13. What’s he done to help the environment?

    If Hamilton cares so much about the environment he should switch to Formula E next season because after this year he will be the most successful F1 Driver so he has nothing more to prove.

    If he really cares about the environment at all he should make a huge statement by switching to Formula E.

    If he never switches to Formula E and simply retires he’s just talking rubbish like he always does

    1. @fish123 He has started his own Extreme E team…

      1. What abt the fact that he drives fuel guzzling cars every week? Or travels the world in a private jet?

        The benefit to the environment from extreme e team is a figment compared to the damage he does to the environment!

    2. Your boy not likely to get near the records then?

      Comments like yours are laughable.

      This whole page will be full of people desperate for him to retire because he is the hurdle currently insurmountable, that your boys can’t climb until he does.

      Hilarious frankly.

      1. Trust me my boys gonna revive himself next year and fight for the title in 2022!

    3. @fish123

      And by the way.

      I figure he has done much more than you have for the environment.

      1. My house is fully solar powered, I drive a Hybrid and have been a vegetarian for the past year & a half!

        It’s not alot! But my point is i do what i can and don’t go on & on on social media to make a big scene… Instead i focus on doing my part

        Whatever Hamilton says or does is negated by the fact tht he drives fuel guzzling cars every week and flies around the world in a private jet.

    4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      9th October 2020, 20:59

      @fish123 Have you done any research on battery tech? Current understanding is it takes about 100,000 miles to offset the production of batteries vs fuel burnt to drive 100,000 miles. Current F1 ICE is the most efficient internal combustion engine ever made. I have a 1.2 3 cylinder petrol turbo engine which is far better than diesel which is a result of F1 research. Battery tech is not there yet. He is a very influential racing driver who is pushing his sport in a more sustainable direction. What are you doing?

      1. What has he done to make it sustainable?? He didn’t design the hybrid power unit or he didn’t get involved in deciding to switch… All he is doing is talking crap.

        Also btw im studying electrical engineering so maybe yes i will do research on battery tech one day!

  14. A generational mental basket, narcissistic hypocrite and opportunist but a genius at the wheel with the best car. Can’t he just go away?

    1. He could, but then he would lose his PR power – F1 is giving him his social platform.
      Who would Lewis Hamilton be if he was still in F2? Or in some GT or touring car category?

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        9th October 2020, 20:40

        @gpwaon20 and S If I could I would pay money to get you to sit down with ANY top sportsman. ANY. Read a damn book about these people please. What you interpret as undesirable traits are literally the story of success for all these people. If you don’t like it, well they’re not bothered. It’s not a personality contest. And S, where would Lewis be if he was still in F2? He literally isn’t because he’s better than that formula. Every comment Bernie Ecclestone (you know the literal architect of modern F1) has made about Lewis states “Lewis is great for the sport” About Vettel who Bernie has a real soft spot for “He could be more like Lewis.” You are complaining about someone who has grown the sport. Senna, Prost, Schumi, Nigel. All were marmite characters. All grew the sport. recognise the sport you are following as opposed to your personal opinions. It’s not Britain’s got talent!

        1. @davewillisporter
          Thanks Dave, I’ve ‘sat down’ with plenty of top level sportspeople, actors, singers, artists and industry professionals, thank you. Their personalities are as varied as any other groups of people. There are almost no ‘common traits’ other than their passion for what they do.
          As for your second point about Hamilton’s public status – he made to F1 as much through the financial backing of Ron Dennis and McLaren as he did on his own personal performance. He’s a great driver, no doubt – but he’s still there because many stars aligned for him that were beyond his control. Plenty of others miss out or never get those opportunities.
          As to his personality – well, no other driver feels the need to say ‘look at me, look how great I am and all the wonderful things I support’ anywhere near as much as Hamilton does – certainly not the names you reeled off. They were all just drivers with little interest in external stuff. That extra stuff wasn’t F1, so they didn’t bring it to F1.
          The fact remains – had those stars not aligned for Hamilton and thrust him into the public eye at the top level of this type of motorsport – he’d still be a relative nobody. It is to F1 that he owes his ‘popularity/notoriety’ and not just to himself. Without F1’s platform his words would reach a lot less ears.

    2. Yes he can. Just stop clicking on stories or interviews that involve Hamilton, and he disappears. It’s not rocket science.
      Or you could ask Dieter and co not to ask him anymore questions. I think Hamilton as shown in the past he would rather not attend press conferences. So you may have some luck there.

  15. LH’s Extreme E Team.
    Hmmm……
    Oh yes lets tootle off all over the world.
    Presumably walking or cycling?
    Then when we get there.
    Go to some of the most exotic & pristine locations on the planet.
    Then tear about, racing in electric powered buggies.
    Presumably on furry felt tyres to prevent any environmental damage to the precious earth under them.
    Click the menu to see the locations. Lot of walking cycling between them.
    https://www.extreme-e.com/en/news/118_Lewis-Hamilton-founds-Extreme-E-team.html

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      9th October 2020, 20:26

      @wildbiker Yeah, Hannibal shouldn’t have tried to cross the Alps, Columbus should never have tried to find India and Darwin should have stayed at home and looked at the birds in his garden. Oh, and the Apollo program? Dumb AF! Ewan Mcgregor and Charlie Boorman went from the tip of South America to California with electric bikes and electric truck support. Plenty of probs in the cold but if pioneers don’t push the envelope, the envelope stays the same size.
      There is a saying I’d like you to roll around your head for a few minutes, hours, decades maybe. All progress depends on the unreasonable man (person.) Everything you rely on today was the result of pushing the envelope of understanding and achievement. EVERYTHING. Why do you think we should stop now?

  16. Dave (@davewillisporter)
    9th October 2020, 20:16

    General comment about what F1 is. It is what the investors into F1 want it to be. It is not what you want it to be. During tobacco sponsorship years, it needed to be loud and proud, heroic and dangerous because that suited the tobacco sponsors. In this current environment when the major investors are car manufacturers it needs to be something else. Environmentally friendly, sustainable and relevant to road cars, because that’s where the money is coming from. If F1 does not transition to electric or fuel cell tech when that tech comes of age in around 10 years it will be a SLOWER and less relevant formula. Imagine a day when F1 is no longer the pinnacle of speed and bravery. Imagine a day when F1 is considered a slower, more boring series. Well, if the people that want to see V8s, V10s or even V12s return prevail, that is what F1 will become. Fortunately it is not up to those people. It is up to those who want to invest hundreds of millions a year into a sport that can give them a competitive advantage in their respective fields. As it has been for a few decades now. I personally would rather F1 moves with the times and is both technologically relevant and the fastest race formula possible. Engine noise belongs with wreaths around drivers necks, deaths every season and grid totty. In the past.

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