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.