How Bad Is F1 Raceing For The Environment?

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: September 3, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

F1 Racing, which is more formally known as Formula 1 Racing, is a car racing league that started in 1950. 

Instead of going around a circular track, like NASCAR, in F1 they race on closed-circuit courses called Grand Prix. 

These courses are often closed roads in major cities, like the famous Monaco Grand Prix. 

Unfortunately, due to its nature as a car racing tour, there are environmental repercussions from F1 racing. 

But, what exactly are those repercussions, and just how bad for the environment are they?

Excessive Gas Usage

By its very nature, being a car race, F1 cars are going to result use up a lot of gas over the course of a race. 

This means that a source of energy, which is not renewable and most of the world still uses as its primary source of energy, is being spent on a sport for entertainment’s sake. 

That’s before you consider that the gas being burnt is releasing harmful carbon emissions that otherwise wouldn’t be being released. 

F1 cars can use up to 110 kilograms of fuel in a single race. 

That’s not all cars racing. 

That’s one car per race. 

The F1 Racing season has twenty-three races, and twenty cars per race, or:

  • One F1 Car burns 110 kilograms or 3,880 ounces of fuel every race
  • For a standard 20 car race, there are 2,200 kilograms, 77,602 ounces, of gas burned from the race alone
  • That’s 1,784,846 ounces of fuel burned over the course of a season

As moves are made towards renewable energies in cars, these numbers could go down, but as they stand now, excessive gas usage remains a major issue for Formula 1 Racing.

Transporting Vehicles Is Incredibly Difficult

Most people tend to think of the races as the biggest issue for Formula 1 Racing, but transporting all the vehicles and equipment around the world actually has a bigger impact. 

  • Cars contributed to 0.7% of emissions annually
  • Transportation of equipment contributed to 45% of emissions 

The Fan Impact

The reality is that F1 Racing needs fans to be successful. 

That, of course, is true of any sports league in the world. Sponsors pay to be seen. 

The more people who watch an event, the more those sponsors will pay to sponsor the events in question. 

That’s why a famous Gran Prix, like the Monaco Grand Prix, is more expensive to sponsor.

As a sport, F1 Racing has a long history of the very cars that are entered into races being a form of sponsorship themselves, as car companies tried to prove they had the best vehicles. 

Just like typical sponsors, they wouldn’t do this without fans, though.

The issue is that fans have a massive impact on the surrounding environment. 

Some fans travel from place to place as they like to follow the races around the world and watch them all. 

Others like to go to a specific event, which they’re willing to drive or fly to from long distances. 

This, in turn, leaves a massive carbon footprint in their wake.

The number attributed to F1 Racing’s annual carbon footprint is 256,000 tonnes. That number doesn’t include the fan impact of traveling. In fact, the fan impact on F1 shows:

  • Including fan impact, F1 Racing contributes to 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 generated annually
  • That means that the fan impact is approximately 1.64 million tonnes of CO2 every single year

Hybrid Engine Technology Can Lessen F1’s Impact

F1 Racing is well aware of the environmental impact that their sport can have on the world, in the same way, that they’re well aware of the safety issues that it can cause. 

Those safety concerns are continually addressed, while F1 has begun to address those environmental concerns through new technologies.

Some of these strides that F1 has made have been quiet, but they have been impactful all the same. 

This includes pushing for electric vehicles that can operate throughout the course of a full race. In other cases, improved braking systems and aerodynamics will allow for more fuel efficient vehicles. 

That’s before hybrid engines and biofuels are considered. 

All of this will help cut into F1 Racing’s current 256,000 tonnes of carbon impact a year. 

Among F1 Racing’s goals for a sustainable future are:

  • 0 Carbon Footprint by 2030
  • Host sustainable races by 2025

The Bottom Line

You can only make boxing, a sport where you have to punch and be punched so safe. 

The same can be said for F1 Racing. You can only make it so good for the environment. 

As long as it tours around the world, it doesn’t matter how efficient races become. 

There will always be a major environmental impact due to the sport.

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