How to be an environmentally-friendly F1 team…

Most teams seem to concentrate all their time and energy on making their cars go fast, but Williams F1 has also been giving a little thought to the bigger picture of motorsport in modern society. This is to be applauded. The team is not only developing its magnetically loaded composite flywheel to assist with carbon mitigation in passenger car, light city transport and in mass transit rail systems, but the team is also measuring its carbon footprint each year, and trying to improve. In fact the team has been measuring its carbon emissions since 2005, but it was not until last year that it began to disclose these numbers to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the internationally recognised carbon auditing and reporting charity. According to the latest submissions to CDP Williams reduced its CO2 output from 15,301 tons in 2008 to 13.264 tons in 2009, which represents a drop of 13%. The team also exceeded its stated reduction in primary energy use targets for electricity and natural gas as laid out last year.

It is interesting to note that emissions generated directly from race cars remain a fraction of the company’s total CO2 output at 0.46% for 2009.

The fact remains the real problem for all sports is not those taking part, but rather those watching. Apparently clean activities such as fishing or the Tour de France are actually big offenders because of the number of people who use cars to go fishing, or to drive to watch stages of the celebrated cycle race. If motorsport in general wishes to reduce its carbon footprint, the best way for this to be achieved is for the circuits to be linked to effective and pleasant public transport systems. The Australian GP, for example, has the majority of its crowd arriving by tram; the Le Mans 24 Hours now has a trams service linking the circuit directly with the mainline Le Mans train station.

29 thoughts on “How to be an environmentally-friendly F1 team…

  1. Or if you’ve got lemons, make lemonade. Williams bet on the flywheel approach instead of batteries when it looked like KERS was here to stay in an effort to win F1 races.

    Kudos for their work in applying lessons learned to road cars and hopefully opening the door to a future relationship in F1 with Porsche.

  2. In Singapore, most of the spectators take the train or walk back to their hotels as well. It’s a big plus for tracks in city centres.

  3. Interesting stuff. It’d be great if all the teams were involved with the CDP project so that they we/they could compare to each other. That that it should be a competition but I’m sure it’d be interesting to see them try and do better than each other.

    It’s crazy that the race cars are only 0.46% of their total carbon output but I suppose when you think of the big picture all the flights for team members etc. add up quickly.

    Not totally related but I was interested to read on Bloomberg LP’s sustainability site that train travel produces 41% less C02 than air travel. Maybe Williams should send it’s engineers via train to the European races?

  4. Joe, I must say I am kind of disappointed in this article for the simple reason that you are reporting on just one aspect of many from the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. CO2 emissions aren’t, and never were, a problem. It does not contribute to global warming, as there is no such thing. It has been proven time and again that it is a fraud…a fraud set up so that the powers that be have another taxing scheme to line their pockets off the hard work of the serfs (that’d be us…the commoners), so to speak.

    CO2 is needed by plant life. They convert CO2 to oxygen in photosynthesis. Oxygen is obviously needed for human life, and other life as a basic necessity. The more O2, the better. That is basic science everyone seems to forget. A study was done in NYC on the plant life of Central Park. What they found was the complete antithesis of the fraud they are trying to sell the people. The plants and trees on Central Park grew bigger and stouter than their brethren in the natural wild. Why? All the emissions from the cabs, cars and buses all around. This scientific report was buried by the powers that be.

    I can give you other websites and articles that totally debunk this fraud and I hope you going digging into it as well. The scope and scale of the fraud is massive and it involves the whole power elite (non-producers by the way) to tax the producers/serfs/commoners. People need to be hip to this. If Williams really wanted to be “green” by the way and are so worried about Carbon footprints and emissions, they’d fold shop immediately and jump off the bridge. In essence, they’re just showing how hypocritical and deceived they are.

  5. the track in Barcelona is notionally connected by rail although the 25 minute walk is quite off putting. What’s worse is that when you finally get to the circuit there is a different train line that runs parallel to the main straight.

    you can see how close it is here (train line marked in red)

    Thankfully the local authorities have announced plans to open a station there in the coming years which would make connections to the city centre a breeze

  6. Lol Joe watch you comma and point there! That would be some carbon reduction.

    The problem with KERS systems are that the batteries are hugely polluting to make.

    As for a discussion of global warming, ill keep the point brief. Pumping out carbon into the atmosphere is not good and the planet is warming at an alarming rate. Finally there is no scientific group of national or international standing that does not agree that humans have influenced the change in climate.

  7. Michael: if the environmentalists are wrong, then we’ve wasted a tons of money, effort and time. If the climate change deniers (including such desirables as noted brain box Sarah Palin) are wrong, then what then? We’re all completely stuffed.

    Oh, and please provide some credentials to provide backing for your points. Perhaps a qualification or two. Anyone would think you were some sort of expert.

    Incidentally, I’m sure that I could come up with more websites than you could to rubbish your points. Can that many people, that many governments and NGOs really be wrong about climate change? Or do you think that we can continue to exploit the planet with impunity?

  8. Michael,

    Where did you get your tinfoil hat? Can I have one?

    Seriously, Joe is a motorsport journalist, not a climate scientist. This is not the place for a scientific discussion, but if it were I’d ask you to produce some peer-reviewed evidence for the nonsense you spout. Conspiracy theories and persecution complexes are inadmissible.

    Joe: “If motorsport in general wishes to reduce its carbon footprint, the best way for this to be achieved is for the circuits to be linked to effective and pleasant public transport systems.”

    I agree with this and it is interesting that you point it out. After all, Donington was widely derided for contemplating such a scheme when it was preparing for its Grand Prix (sadly canned).

  9. Joe,

    When I read about the ‘green’ credentials of F1, a common theme is that the actual F1 cars emit so little emissions as to not matter, and that there are other sports, such as fishing and cycling that you have raised, that are worse offenders. I can’t disagree with the facts, but I think that line of thinking misses the point.

    F1 has massive influence and so they say is the second most watched sport in the world or something. If F1 cars suddenly had a fuel consumption limit, all those viewers in the world would suddenly be talking about one car being better on fuel than the other, one car being faster because it used less fuel. What percentage of viewers had ever heard of an energy recovery system was before F1 took it on? Very few I would think. Now though, many of those people would have heard of it.

    If F1 halved fuel consumption, I think it’s global influence would have more effect on lowering fuel consumption around the world, than say a single car company producing a model that halved fuel consumption. Influence and setting an example is what is important here.

    In terms of other sports being responsible for more fuel emissions than F1, that too is misleading. What if all the fishermen/women took up motor racing instead? What if all the recreational cyclists took up motor racing instead? Motor racing might not have produce much direct emissions, but that is because so few of us can afford to directly do it, and are forced to just watch others do it.

    My AU$0.02 worth.

  10. The FIA have been off-setting carbon from all F1 activities, including the teams international travel and that of the fans who attend races, and has been doing this since 1997.

  11. Improving the environement is obviously a good thing but unfortnately it has joined road safety inbeing dumbed downtothe lowest common denominator. Most road safety is now reported in terms of speed or alcohol consumption with all other factors ignored. When it comes to the environment apparently the only thing that matters is carbon dioxide. This is of course utter nonsense. Companies can report that they are cutting carbon dioxide but unless you know all the other facts that information on its own is utterly meaningless.

    Who knows what contaminants F1 teams are pumping into the environment that are not measured because the world can only cope with carbon dioxide levels. One of the biggest global warming contributors from cars is water. For every litre of petrol you burn you produce one litre of water. That’s why exhausts rust so quickly. That water vapour or aerosol goes into the air and contribute to global warming. Scientists are now saying that the effect of aerosols has been underestimated.

  12. Michael – to some extent you are right – however, the earth has a natural balance where oxygen is replaced by co2 and vice versa. However, if man made items create an excess of co2, there won’t be enough plant life to bring earth back to an equilibrium. Consider that and the fact that our forests are being cut down.

    Earth temperatures are raising. I agree that governments are manipulating figures to make out that the situation is worse than it is, but the facts are that mankind is nor helping matters.


    Thank you for posting a very valid and appreciated post, Joe.

  13. Michael, one study does not a hoax make. Yes, plants love co2 but did you know they also take in o2 at night and put out co2? It’s less than the o2 they produce during the day.

    More importantly, most of the oxygen in the atmosphere comes from algae, not trees.

    So this leaves us with companies trying to produce less co2. Not sure why this is bad even if global warming is a hoax. It reduces other pollution at the same time and therefore will reduce smog, acid rain and other atmospheric issues.

    I agree with the earlier poster who said that f1 should be seen to reduce the output from the cars as that is what the general public see.

    P.S. I thought the moon landing was the biggest hoax

  14. I’ll believe that there is no Carbon issue when someone can tell me how people can gas themselves by sticking a tube fron the exhaust into the car itself.

    People can argue all they like, and from what I understand, t’s Carbon MONoxide that is the problem, not Carbon DIoxide, which is a byproduct of our own respiration, and used in photosynthesis.

    Even if we take as fact that there is no impact, do you really want to be breathing in more of that crap than you have to Michael?

    I think it’s great that F1 is trying to lead the way in all respects of the automotive industry. KERS is a great innovation in that, and hybrid technology will skyrocket when it’s developed to be attractive to more than just smug people who traded in their vespers due to the fact that a prius can hold two double decaf soy latte’s.

    I think we’ll see improvements in power storage, synchronicity of power application and of course tunring hybrids from hippy chick cars into something that is appropriately “green” yet stilla ble to rip your face off if you decide to take it to the track for a day.

    It could be the biggest turning point in the motor industry of all time… well, at least until we all get the flying cars that most sci-fi movies have promised us. Can someone get Newey onto that? Thanks.

  15. I’ve been banging on along this same theme for a while now. Quit trying to make the race cars “more green” and go for the real polluters, the punters. That’s where Bernie should be spending some capital. Provide alternative ways to get to the circuits, and quit building them out in the desert.

  16. As far as fans arriving at circuits, don’t forget Montreal in Canada.

    Unless you are a vendor or associated with the event in some way, the only way to get onto the island is via subway. In the few minutes immediately following the race, it can be congested but if you take your time leaving, have a drink and take in some of the trackside activities, it is fairly simple to jump right on the subway and get to anywhere in the city you’d like to go.

  17. Joe, thanks for continuing to post articles on this issue. F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and as such is used as a reference point to all motor sport by the world. It should return to true technical innovation (instead of a focus on aerodynamics and an engine freeze!) that benefits the wider motor industry. The initial indicators of the 2013 engine rules look really promising.
    FIA surveys have shown that technology and innovation are high on the list of why people tune into F1 (The section has been great this year). While I find “blown diffusers” interesting, KERS, flywheels, battery technology, etc. are far more so.

  18. Bernie is already solving this problem by moving all the races to countries where no one wants to turn up and watch.

  19. Michael,

    You discredit yourself easily with this sentence

    “The more O2, the better. That is basic science everyone seems to forget.”

    It is not basic science. And it is not true. The O2 concentration in the atmosphere (about 21%) is about optimum for us. O2 is highly corrosive. For short periods or in carefully monitored controlled conditions, 100% can be beneficial. But if not controlled and monitored you can go blind or suffer seizures, lung problems and other serious problems. Here is one I found in a few seconds with Google.

    If you don’t even understand basic stuff like the above how can you possibly comment on something more complex such as the effect CO2 has on the climate.

    As for the rest of your rant you are sadly misinformed, like most climate change deniers. Even the most ardent anti-climate change skeptic scientists admit CO2 has some impact.

    There is a fraud to do with all this – bio fuel from crops. Bad idea. Bio fuel from corn being the worst of the lot, sadly the one form pushed the most by the US government. But bio fuel from waste is a great idea.

  20. So, if F1 cars only consume 0.5% of the overall carbon footprint of a team, then trying to make them “greener” is simply a (very expensive) PR exercise.

    As for hoping that the hotbed of innovation that is F1 can use its brains to solve real world problems – yes, it can, but who pays for it? And how can they, really, when the engines are frozen every five years (or more, next time?) and the cars have to comply with stringent weight restrictions (such that to add KERS many drivers have had to lose 10-15kg to make the grid)? Besides, other than the Americans, most car manufacturers started experimenting with energy efficiency 30 years ago and most have some sort of hybrid/fuel cell/energy recovery system/efficient diesel technology either in their cars, or in late development.

    It is often the case that when you try to please everyone you please no one. It is time that the sport (and associated bandwagon-glad journalists) have a think about what the fundamentals of the sport what what the product is that it is selling to the world. If it is going to be green innovation, then it must be followed by appropriate car design rules and assumed that the commercial channels for the new technologies will sort themselves out. And perhaps then another formula will emerge that is founded on speed and driver skill, instead of fuel efficiency.

  21. ——————————————————————-
    the kitchen cynic

    Bernie is already solving this problem by moving all the races to countries where no one wants to turn up and watch.

    You mean Spa then?

    Which for the last 2 years has had the lowest ticket sales of any GP.

  22. Josh,

    I’ll believe that there is no Carbon issue when someone can tell me how people can gas themselves by sticking a tube fron the exhaust into the car itself.

    People can argue all they like, and from what I understand, t’s Carbon MONoxide that is the problem, not Carbon DIoxide, which is a byproduct of our own respiration, and used in photosynthesis.

    I suggest you watch Apollo 13 to see what happens when the carbon dioxide level rises by a very small amount.

    I am sure you must have heard of catalytic convertors. These ludicrously expensive additions to the car exhaust convert carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. Cars fitted with these effectively produce no carbon monoxide but if you stick a hose from the exhaust into the car with the engine running you will still die.

  23. “Bob
    Indycar hasn’t used petrol since the 70′s. Why is F1 so late to the bio-fuel game?”

    Bio-fuel sounds like a great idea until you realise we actually need to eat too. Food prices are going through the roof as a result of a mass conversion to growing bio-fuel crops.

    On another subject, something that rarely gets mentioned in all the carbon emission coverage in the media is that the massive gas flares in Nigeria (from western companies like Agip, Shell etc), give out an estimated 50million tonnes of CO2 per year, compared with 80million tons per year for all the cars in the UK which puts it into context somewhat.

  24. Well done, Michael.

    First thing every morning I visit which serves beautifully as the world’s best ‘Ponzi scheme’ detector, relentlessly exposing every scam under the sun, that is, political / bankster / crony-capitalist scam.

    For instance, one of today’s external links takes us to .

    Those used to eagerly await the arrival of every issue of Car Magazine in decades past can well imagine the heavenly wrath and utter contempt which the late, great LJKS would today, (both in English AND Latin) deal climate fraudsters.

    One need not be a fervent Lewis Hamilton fan to realise the utter PC nonsense leading to his “punishment” resulting from a self-evident non-event early this year in Australia. True followers of Grand Prix Motor Racing anywhere will no doubt trace Nanny’s steps back to this document which they will surely enjoy reading and which must have upset Nanny: .

    Watching internet videos of individuals like Lord Monckton or Nigel Farage utterly destroy Nanny’s insane commands at every opportunity is a real pleasure available to everyone everywhere.

    However, some may argue, why not go all the way?
    Yes We Can: = Full-Spec Austro-Libertarian Anarcho-Capitalism.

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