Marshal with green flag, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

F1 reveals progress towards new engine rules and ‘net-zero carbon’ goal

2020 F1 Season

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Formula 1 has announced details of the progress it has made towards its aim of becoming a “net zero” producer of carbon emissions.

One year to the day since its green target was revealed, F1 said it has already made steps towards significantly reducing the carbon emissions produced by its global operation, despite the challenges presented by Covid-19. It also confirmed details of how it plans to overhaul its engine formula in the future.

A new working group involving car manufacturers plus F1 and FIA personnel has been created to help formulate future engine regulations based around sustainably-fuelled hybrid technology. F1 believes this is the best way it can contribute towards developing greener technologies in a world where the vast majority of cars are still powered by internal combustion engines burning fossil fuels.

F1’s headline aim last year was to develop a net-zero hybrid power unit, using a sustainable fuel. The new working group will examine how the cars could be powered by cleaner energy sources.

“This group will be expanded to include specialists from the [original equipment manufacturers] and energy suppliers as well as seeking expertise from independent research groups,” said the series in a statement.

“Although the carbon footprint of the cars is a very small percentage of our carbon footprint as a sport (0.7%) it is important that the most visual part of our sport is sustainable and can have real-world benefits.”

The championship expects internal combustion engines will be part of a net-zero carbon future. “We believe that with over 1 billion of the 1.1 billion vehicles in the world powered by internal combustion engines, we have the potential to lead the way in technologies that reduce automotive carbon emissions globally.

“We also believe that there is not a single solution to the engine technologies of the future but that a sustainably fuel hybrid engine will be a significant moment for the sport and the automotive sector.”

During 2020 F1 has joined Formula E in achieving the FIA’s highest standard of environmental accreditation, the three star rating, along with McLaren and two Formula E teams, Mahindra and Virgin. It also signed up to the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework and switched its offices to run on electricity from renewable sources, one of the commitments it set out last year.

The global coronavirus pandemic pushed the championship to accelerate a two-year plan to make its broadcast operations more remote, completing the work in just eight weeks prior to the delayed start of the season. Making the change removed a reported 70 tonnes of freight from what has to be transported to each race and reduced the number of travelling staff by 36%.

F1 also intends to “significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastic bottles and cutlery and food waste in the pit and paddock”.

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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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  • 20 comments on “F1 reveals progress towards new engine rules and ‘net-zero carbon’ goal”

    1. The championship expects internal combustion engines will be part of a net-zero carbon future. “We believe that with over 1 billion of the 1.1 billion vehicles in the world powered by internal combustion engines, we have the potential to lead the way in technologies that reduce automotive carbon emissions globally.

      but according to the comments section of Racefan internal combustion engines are dead and nobody uses them anymore? surely they no better than the Formula 1 engine manufacturers…

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        12th November 2020, 10:13

        The specific use of the term ‘vehicles’ is obviosuly done to mark the undesired truth: the percentage non-combustion engine cars in first world countries (the countries that matter when it comes to ‘showing progressive tech’) is obviously higher than that of ‘all vehicles in the world’. You’re not going to have electric tractors or (majority) of trucks. Not to mention 99% of the cars used on the entire continent of Africa are old rustbuckets. Sure, you can say ‘but those are traditional combustion engine-cars’, but I doubt they give a single heck about going electric or ‘good for the environment tech’: they just want to go from A to B.

        Electricity is the future of the automobile industry and F1 knows that very well. The fact they have to grasp at straws like using the term ‘worldwide vehicles’ makes that pretty obvious.

        1. @barryfromdownunder, I think that the part about “grasping at straws” is not quite correct there.

          Apart from that, you give a good idea of how many billions of vehicles (scooters, motorcycles, rikshas, cars, delivery vans, large trucks, busses, off course trains, ships and even aeroplanes) are out there that won’t get (at least not fullly) replaced by electric vehicles anytime in the next 2 decades or probably even the next 4 decades or ever.

          Even in the western world, unless all such vehicles are banned from being used, with an average age of about 10-12 years, it will take 2 decades before a majority of that vehicle park becomes EVs. In conglomerations electric will almost certainly become the standard, simply because the lack of pollutants from exhaust gasses. But for the longer haul transport?

          So there is a real market for developing more sustainable fuels for the next 2 decades. And if they work well, and are really sustainable, they can become the go to solution for lang-haul transport including aeroplanes and ships (and trains), especially if they can be used in current engines with some adaptation or additives.

      2. Yes this is the nearest we’ve had yet to f1 stating they will step away from the hated* hybrids. Fingers crossed.

        *not everyone on here for sure

        1. @tonymansell Not sure what you mean. It sounds very much like their next pu will be hybrid, just hopefully/potentially fuelled by synthetics.

        2. You are going to be disappointed. The next engines will be hybrid power units.

      3. but according to the comments section of Racefan internal combustion engines are dead and nobody uses them anymore? surely they no better than the Formula 1 engine manufacturers…

        Why not have your own opinion rather than argue against an argument that nobody has made?

        1. What are you on about, this site is full of rabid hybrid lovers! All 9 of them never stop going on about the forefront of tech. Youre on here enough, I cant believe you haven’t noticed

          1. I don’t think anyone loves the hybrids. They just don’t want to change a formula that provides consistent wins for the driver they support.

            1. @petebaldwin I love the hybrids. I don’t care about sound. I love the technology. I love the fact that they are the most thermally efficient engines in the world.

              Also not a LH fan, although I do respect him. As an Aussie I back Danny Ric.

    2. Hopefully, the (organization of the) race calendar would also reflect more on this in the long-term.

    3. Get rid of the dry ice on the start grid. Get rid of the tire blankets that use massive electricity. Cut the number of tire sets used from 13 to 3 per car per weekend. Fuel the cars with biofuel made from ocean plastics.

    4. As they say the cars are .7% of the emissions, so it doesn’t really matter what technology they use.

      Making the change removed a reported 70 tonnes of freight from what has to be transported to each race and reduced the number of travelling staff by 36%.

      This is great progress and should be championed, well done F1 👏 Hopefully the rest of the circus can be trimmed back a similar amount.

      1. Apart from the window dressing, it would be of use as a development platform for manufacturers and maybe even more so for the chemicals/oil industry to support IMO @skipgamer

        Only once they power the aeroplanes and ships that transport the materials and the planes, busses and trains that ship the visitors with those more sustainable fuels, will it make a direct impact.

      2. Can you comment on the 23 races and the number of jetting between continents in electric aeroplanes?

        1. Well electric aeroplane’s don’t exist so don’t be daft. They are making measurable changes in the right direction and that is a good thing.

    5. I’m fine with them switching to a bio fuel for the cars if they want. It’s a good symbolic step, but I hope they don’t make a big deal about it if it’s not something that could be scaled for other vehicles to use. Probably the world of biofuels has advanced since I last looked at it, but previously there was always some major draw back like it used too much arable land, or that it was too energy intensive, or was just not economically viable.

    6. Ok. So, where’s the details of the progress F1 has made? Statement like ‘will examine how’, ‘will be expanded to include specialists’, and ‘seeking expertise from independent research groups’ is not a progress.

      1. @ruliemaulana Of course it is progress. This is about them setting themselves up for the next power unit for 2026, and defining what that will be. And it is about all the R&D that will ensue as they head towards their zero emissions goal, which can also spill over to the domestic ICE market.

        1. It’s not remotely close to ‘the details of’.

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