F1’s growing calendar a key obstacle to Williams’ ‘carbon positive’ goal – Capito

2021 F1 Season

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Formula 1’s growing schedule of races presents the most significant challenge to Williams’ ambitious target to reduce its emissions, says the team’s CEO Jost Capito.

Williams announced this week they have set a target to exceed carbon neutrality and become carbon positive by 2030, meaning they are removing more carbon from the air than they are contributing.

Capito acknowledged the plan involved every area of the team’s operations. “First is, of course, to use renewable energies on our operations, not just in the factory but also at the track, in the paddock, to reduce our natural gas emissions. That’s very important.

“Then it’s quite important to get more efficient travel,” he continued. “This is swapping from air transport to sea transport, for example, and to reduce the weight, to reduce massively what we are [bringing] to the races.”

Formula 1 has intends to sustainable fuel by 2030, reducing emissions directly from its racing cars by 65%. But only 0.7% of F1’s reported emissions come from the cars themselves.

The most significant area of improvement F1 faces, according to a 2019 study, is logistics. The championship’s analysis indicated 72.7% of its emissions were produced in transporting team member and freight around the world to races and test sessions.

Williams’ efforts to become carbon positive will there go well beyond power unit emissions. “If you want to be carbon neutral, you have to tackle everything,” said Capito in response to a question from RaceFans.

“When you look at what the discussion is, it’s always about the cars and this is what is in public and this is what makes the public’s mind up [about] if we are sustainable or not sustainable.

“I don’t think we can [make] the argument ‘no, the car still doesn’t really matter because we have bigger fish to fry.’ Of course, if we want to be climate positive, that means we are not just focussing on what the cars have because that’s what other people do very much.”

He said that the team would “have to focus on” transport and freight and “that’s where we have to get better.

“Also what is in the factory is an important part. The cars are the least but they are the most prominent argument.”

The 2022 F1 calendar is expected to feature a record 23 races. It will return to pre-pandemic numbers of ‘flyaway’ events outside Europe, which involve considerable amounts of air freight.

But Capito believes cutting the number of races on the calendar is not the way to reduce emissions. “I don’t think we should measure emissions by the number of races, because then it would [mean] ‘okay, go to zero and then the problem is solved.'” he said. “I do not think that this is the right approach.

“The right approach is to lead the industry to get the message through. At each race we are communicating to millions and millions of fans and if we have the right messaging we can inspire the fans to also change their behaviour here and there.

“That we can’t measure as Williams Racing or as Formula 1 but for sure, that can have an impact on leading by example and inspire the fans to follow what the teams and what Formula 1 is doing.”

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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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  • 12 comments on “F1’s growing calendar a key obstacle to Williams’ ‘carbon positive’ goal – Capito”

    1. https://www.williamsf1.com/Team/Partners/Sofina

      “The privately-held company manufactures pork, beef, turkey, chicken and fish products which are sold and distributed throughout North America, South America and Asia Pacific.”

      Williams promotes meat consumption on a global scale. Let me repeat… Williams promotes meat consumption on a global scale. So all this carbon positive stuff is PR fluff. Everyone knows it. We’re carbon positive because we plant a few trees, but we’re gonna promote meat consumption…

      Good headline for them though.

      Reply moderated
    2. One suggestion to reduce the carbon footprint: Change the 2022 calendar.

      Imola-Miami-Barcelona-Monaco-Baku-Montreal instead of Miami-Montreal-Barcelona-Monaco-Imola-Baku is a logistical madness.

      1. @doctorlovesexy Or Imola-Montmelo-Monaco-Miami-Montreal-Baku.
        Anyway, either both Miami & Montreal before Spain-Monaco or after.

    3. Yeah, makes sense that increasing the travel (and probably manufacturing as well) will make it harder to make up the pollution “bill”

    4. “the right messaging” ..is of course what it’s all about for a circus that hauls a fleet of planes around the world for fun to an increasing amount of places.

      Capito sent the ‘right message’ here. As did RaceFans. Job done.

      Reply moderated
    5. Always thought (and still do) that reducing carbon foot-print does not align well with racing in general.

      It is entertainment after all, and of a type that is not really contributing to industry anymore, rather desperately trying to remain relevant to an industry that has essentially moved on. WRC is now introducing hybrid cars. Really?

      Anything other than food, shelter, clothing, transportation can be eliminated completely if carbon emissions are really a concern. When you consider that a third of the jet fuel on a plane is used to just carry itself – the fuel, then any travelling circus is not going to cut it.

    6. Big deal. How much do you think it will change the temp of the planet? Give me a break. Just a bunch of virtue signalling. It will have no measurable impact on the climate.

      1. +1. Expressed in a third of the language I used to communicate the same point :)

      2. I think its more the example / role model angle that adds value. Not the actual footprint. But I would say that maybe the measures taken are not good enough or at least apparently not scalable. So it is an indication they are thinking in the wrong direction or are not thinking cleverly enough

    7. What a bunch of virtue signaling.

      If they want real effect on carbon neutrality, They should make sure atleast a few % of thermal efficiency gains get transfered to road cars.

      Current engines are even less road relevant than previous V8.

      They need to start using production based engines.

      Battery technology, aero magic..

      F1 is basiclly a technological exercise. Proving who’s tech is thr best. Saddly they are developing irrelevant tech.

      If I cannot buy it and takeit for a drive, they are doing a poor job on being relevant.

      1. @jureo

        None of this matters. If we look at the trajectory of where Europe/UK is going, by 2035, it will be prohibitive to own a personal vehicle.

        Did the UK government not state recently that your EV charging, in your home, will be regulated such that it does not overload the grid? Please correct me if I’m wrong. This coupled with the fact that new ICE purchases will be banned in 2030, owning a personal vehicle, EV or not, will be extremely costly, and possible highly inconvenient. I think by this point, you see more subscription type services for vehicles, shared vehicles, autonomous shuttles etc, all of which may become necessity, as the cost of outright ownership will be out of reach for the common person.

        Hence, one has to wonder, why an auto manufacturer will be interested in spending hundreds of millions to race in F1? I’ve been saying this for a while now. If the product you sell is going to be out right banned in the next 10 to 15 years in one of your key markets, why spend all this money? Perhaps the UK/EU will rescind these bans for Synthetic fuels?

        If F1 goes to synthetic fuels, as they plan to, I guess from carbon perspective, does it really matter how much fuel is burned? Why can’t we get Cosworth, Judd et al to build V10s? Pipe dreams!

    8. What is wrong with everyone here? Im shocked by all the negativity. It may be good PR but it should still be applauded, any effort to go greener can only benefit everyone, should Williams just not bother? Is that what people here think? If all the teams thought it’s not worth the effort the sport will become extinct much like the dinosaurs on this site it seems.

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