How long can Formula 1 drive to survive? | Sportsman | German football and major international sports news | DW


Formula 1 is enjoying the season well. Driven by the title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, the success of the Netflix show ‘Drive to Survive’ and relying on the rebranding and marketing of Liberty Media, the most prestigious series in motorsport is enjoying a high increase. But at what cost ?

The international courier service DHL, which is a major sponsor of F1, revealed that for the 2021 season it had traveled up to 120,000 kilometers (74.6,000 miles) to deliver cars, teams, equipment distribution and reception, as well as fuel and tires. This is the equivalent of three trips around the world.

Just days after United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, reinforced the fact that the very existence of the world such as us know it is threatened by the “fossil fuel dependence” of the humanities. the idea of ​​flying teams of people in 21 countries so that 22 cars of 1000 horsepower can travel a circuit for an hour and a half seems more than irresponsible.

F1 has big plans to fight the climate

Last year, F1 unveiled a climate action strategy. This included a new engine that aims to be powered 100% sustainably and carbon neutral by 2030, incentives for greener travel for fans, more sustainable materials, ultra-efficient logistics and offices, facilities and factories 100% powered by renewable energies.

All of this sounds promising, and given motorsport’s history of developing technologies that have helped drive the progress of everyday cars, they perhaps deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Despite all the talk about ultra-efficient logistics, the biggest contributor to carbon emissions from sports remains a concern. F1 revealed in a sustainability report that 45% of the 256,551 tonnes of CO2 emissions for the 2018 season came from the transport of Formula 1 teams and all their equipment.

Using data provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to put these 256,551 tonnes of C02 into context, the greenhouse gas equivalent of 55,795 passenger vehicles driven during a year.

In response to a query from DW, F1 said that since launching its climate strategy in November 2019, it has made “great strides in reducing the volume of equipment we send to races.”

Last year, F1 accelerated a two-year plan to deliver remote broadcast operations in just eight weeks in response to COVID-19. By moving more technical equipment to the UK, the number of travelers sent to races was reduced by 36%, freight sent to races was reduced by 34%.

F1 claims this saved 70 tonnes of freight carried in each race, which, out of 17 races last season, equates to 1,190 tonnes of unshipped freight. Hopefully this season, with 22 return races on the program, similar or more reductions have been made.

In the meantime, Formula 1 has told DW it is investing to upgrade its ULD (Unit Load Devices) shipping containers. They say this will allow them to move from an older fleet of 747 aircraft to more fuel-efficient 777s, while providing more flexibility in choosing low-impact modes of transportation such as rail, road and sea ​​freight.

This, and planting trees to offset their emissions, are positive steps but are they sufficient? A sport whose global partners include Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer and profitable company in the world, and Emirates, the largest airline in the Middle East, can it do more?

Moreover, what about emissions related to business travel? In the aforementioned 2018 sustainability report, 27.7% of emissions were from business travel, defined as “all individual air and ground transportation, as well as the impacts of hotels for all F1 team employees and employees. partners of major events ”.

A new report is currently underway and is expected at the end of this season, or the start of the next, but F1 told DW it is “committed to reducing its carbon footprint in all areas of the business. emissions, and is supported on this journey by our business partners. “

The F1 show will continue

In the meantime, the races will continue. Next season, a record 23 races will be on the calendar as the 10 F1 teams tour the world in 21 different countries. Can Formula 1 still keep all the promises of lasting change in the face of a record season? Moreover, isn’t it a little perverse for Formula 1 to contribute to climate change by traveling the world to places at the forefront of climate change?

Three years ago, Arnoldo Kramer, head of resilience in Mexico City, said The New York Times that climate change had become “the greatest long-term threat to the future of this city”. Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, around which F1’s final race is set to take place next year, sits just 3.05 meters above sea level. can escape.

Pilots and team principles are well aware that the sport has to change. Sebastian Vettel has repeatedly called on F1 to do more when it comes to sustainability, and Lewis Hamilton’s long-standing commitment to environmental causes is to be applauded, but despite F1’s recent efforts, the sport on which their career is built is increasingly detached. the pressing reality of our time.

Obviously, F1 is getting more and more popular, but the sport’s most expensive traveling circus must also keep its promise to radically change its act.

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