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FOTA aims to slash carbon emissions within three years
FOTA aims to slash carbon emissions within three years
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jun 2010   |  1:41 pm GMT  |  74 comments

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) has unveiled a raft of changes aimed at reducing the sport’s carbon footprint.

Regenerating heat energy is a key strand of F1's next step (Darren Heath)

The teams have long been under pressure from sponsors who want to be associated with a ‘green’ product and following the results of an environmental research analysis conducted by Trucost, FOTA believes it can cut emissions by over 12 per cent before 2012.

According to the report, Formula One teams’ CO2 emissions hit 215,588 tonnes in 2009 of which 0.3 per cent came from fuel emissions during racing and testing.

“It has already been possible to reduce Formula One’s total carbon emissions,” said FOTA Chairman and McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh. “Moreover, building on what we have already achieved, and extrapolating what is now being planned, we anticipate that by 2012 Formula One will have reduced its total carbon emissions by 12.4% compared with 2009.

“In addition, the FIA and FOTA are already working together to tailor the 2013 technical regulations to ensuring that all engines and powertrains used in Formula One by that date will showcase, and provide a platform for the ongoing development of, technologies designed to enhance fuel efficiency.

“This is a very exciting time for Formula One, and I am delighted that our sport has been able to take a global environmental lead in this way.”

The 2013 engine regulations are a fantastic opportunity for the sport to take a fork in the road and make itself relevant for the future. The engines are likely to be small capacity turbos, with additional boost from heat energy regeneration systems, harnessed to braking as well as from engine braking. The FIA has been talking about this for some time now.

FOTA have stressed that it is important to find a balance between pushing for a greener future and ensuring Formula One continues to be the world’s best motor racing series.

“Formula One is, and must always be, the pinnacle of world motor sport,” said a FOTA statement. “Equally, Formula One cars have traditionally provided an exciting and productive development platform for new automotive technologies, and must continue to do so. Many of those new technologies have ultimately been introduced into consumer production cars.

“Turbocharging, fuel injection, variable valve timing and kinetic energy recovery systems [KERS] have all been developed within Formula One, and it is the intention of FOTA, in collaboration with the FIA, that Formula One should continue to pioneer technologies that are appropriate to the challenges faced by society today and in the future, and that are applicable to products that will benefit mankind in the longer term.”

The FIA welcomed the announcement, “The programme highlights the important role that new technologies will play in reducing emissions over the coming years and the leadership role of our sport in developing efficiency solutions for the wider automobile sector,” said a statement.

F1 and the environment is one of the topics under discussion tomorrow at the FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander, which JA on F1 is organising in London. You can follow the discussions from 1pm UK time on Forum Live

Video chapters from the discussions will be uploaded soon after the event via You Tube and will be posted here on JA on F1.

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Perhaps you would like a copy of the official paper I put before the FIA AEC early this year on electric racing.

If you email me I will send you a pdf of both this and a patented new generation KERS item.

I have a new incentive in train for F1 which I am certain you will find very interesting.



Thanks please send it to


Oooo! 12 whole percent! Be still my heart. F1 equals green? Well, maybe greenbacks.

I agree a new technology such as KERS may be a good thing for F1 and other applications. However 12 percent is not going to fill anyone with admiration for the sport and how ecologically friendly it is. What will FOM promote? Our cars are 12 percent more efficient than we were three years ago? Yawn.

Yes they’ve gone from 2.3 miles per gallon to 2.6. Woo hoo!

Or, the KERS syatems we helped pioneer and refine are being used in transportation systems, such as buses, trains, trucks and autos worldwide. The amount of fuel saved is umpteen million barrels of oil a day. All of our trucks incorporate it. Our hospitality centers use solar power and our carbon footprint has been cut by 25 percent in just three years?


Surprised they didn’t make more of the idea of ‘carbon offsetting’ over this. Ie “We use a lot of carbon for F1 but its offset massively by the benefit we bring to road cars..” Might not actually be true but its certainly more believable than suggesting tiny improvements just within F1.

If they really wanted to save all their carbon used they would just race round Silverstone against a blue screen and project pretty pictures of deserts etc on it. Added benefit that you can pretend more people go to Turkey while no one at all is actually there, masterstroke ;).

I do hope the larger rims does finally come in with the new engines as it probably is a change that would be meaningful for Pirelli.


I agree with the majority of what has been written here: streamlining the logistics on the race calendar and improving emissions from the haulage fleet would do more than messing with the race cars’ engines.

F1 sometimes comes across (to me, at least) as trying to be all things to all people. By all means put forth “green” initiatives for better allocation of resources, but messing with the race cars’ engine and drivetrain just looks like they are trying to please the big corporate sponsors and thus, a larger audience beyond the core one who may or may not care about F1 beyond its image.

0.3% of whatever sum suggests that any given work rate towards emissions improvement is better applied in places other than the F1 cars themselves.

I find it a bit sad that the race cars have become the poster boys for green whipping just because they’re the most visible.


Nice gesture… but that’s all it is.

If climate change is as serious as the green lobby says it is, the whole world is doomed anyway. People are never going to make the enormous lifestyle changes required to cut carbon emissions by as much as they say is needed.

If climate change is not as serious as the green lobby says it is, why not focus on more important things like poverty and nuclear disarmament?

Either way, token gestures like this will make no difference.

Robert Powers

Racing has always been the place for automotive manufacturers to show their car building acumen.Under the gun,nose to nose with other car companies.

It is a new age,with new realities and challenges.F1 provides a testbed for as yet unknown technologies.Winners will have found an advantage in their own interpretation of the rules.

There is nothing wrong with trying to clean up our transportation system.Maybe they can “develop” noisemakers in F1 as well,to satiate those who complain about the quietness of the new propulsion systems.


Can’t say that I’m impressed.

I don’t care who wins the race with the least carbons expended, and the figures quoted show that the bulk of carbon expenditure is in external factors anyway. Focusing on the cars seems like a complete idiocy, except to try to attract new manufacturers… and manufacturers have historically been quite fickle on the F1 front.

By all means tweak the engine formula. But what happened to cost containment? Will development of green technology allow some amount of overspend?

Bah. Whole thing seems silly.


Maybe it seems silly because it’s merely another example of the sport trying to suck up to the eco-loonies.


Just total rubbish. Who do they think they’re fooling? Just a cynical marketing ploy.

Lets make a new rule: everybody has to walk to F1 races. That’ll save more than messing about with the cars.

Or how about this: all us racing fans hold our breaths for as long as possible at high noon before each race. That should save up enough CO2 to pay for the race. Especially if it included all the pr flacks.


Install wind turbines at all the F1 circuits. Then have the petrolheads blow on them to generate eco-loony-friendly electricity. You know it makes sense. Or at least as much sense as AGW!


F1 fuel forms just a tiny fraction of emissions. The transportation of equipment by air far exceeds the emissions caused during the race weekend.

Just a thought, what happens when electric F1 cars are possible.

Then we don’t need earplugs and we’ll be able to hear the whizzing of aerodynamics. Can be interesting.

But we want that macho audio don’t we. LOUD! It’s the horse power. 800 horses running at full speed will surely be loud.


Turbocharging developed by F1? That’s news to the whole world; especially Alfred Büchi who took credit for the invention and had the nerve to apply for a patent in 1905.

Alberto Dietz

Sponsors associated with green products stinks to high heavens of massive govt subsidies.

The event should require the presence of Lord Monckton, as the last thing we need is F1 (and the entire world) to become unrecognisable at the wrong end of a carbon emmission scam.

Carbon tax is fraud is aggression and not long ago in the not so wild wild west fraudsters were surely and deservedly met with a generous dose of defensive lead.


Alberto, you nailed it. Great!


Perhaps instead of a monetary budget cap the teams could have to comply with a carbon emissions cap.

On another note I seem to recall that the ‘green looking’ Tour de France produces more carbon than a whole season of F1, but then again I might have read it on Wikipedia 🙂


Since most of the emissions come from haulage and transporting the teams, surely this will just be solved by better logistics, no “new technology” or cutting edge advances by the sport’s brains.

Not exactly super exciting stuff. I’m a lover of the sport, I’ll just ignore the green gimmickry and focus on the next race thank you very much!


As a motor sport fan I am really not fussed about how green the F1 calendar is but I do appreciate the need for manufacturers to invest time and money in green technologies. F1 should be show casing these technologies in all their glory as well as helping to develop them. As for the rest of the 99.7%, well, you don’t get FIFA worrying how football fans get to matchs and their carbon footprint and they have 38+ matchs a year. So why should f1 worry about the fans footprint?


Perhaps F1 should lead the way, and show other sports and forms of entertainment how it should be done?

Rightly or wrongly, F1 is an easier target than other forms of sport/entertainment.


As F1 has such a high profile and so much corporate involvement (which obvioulsy is its life blood) it is at the mercy of greater public opinion and whatever the media and high profile tree hugging organisations are making the most noise about.

We do have to get smarter about resources and effeciency but there are so many other ways that this can be done rather then adding technolgies to a few cars that have a single purpose – to go fast. The cost of all these great sounding technolgies will cripple half the field and to what end? Heavier, slower vehicles with an even bigger margin performance between the teams. Is that what the soul of F1 is really about?


What a load of horse pucky.


First sensible comment I’ve seen on this topic!


What is going on??!! Is this Formula 1 or is it an expensive economy run?

FOTA harps on about engaging the fans but we keep getting more and more complex rules each year without fail…’s really baffling.

Back to basics, I say.

Stuart the old geezer

If most of the F1 ‘carbon footprint’. comes from moving the teams around plus the spectators’ contribution, how can the 0.3 per cent coming from racing and testing be reduced in any way that is meaningful to the rest of society? This looks like a bit of PR window dressing just to make the sponsors feel righteous. F1 engines are incredibly fuel efficient anyway, but as several of your contributors have pointed out, it is difficult to transfer this technology to road cars.


Of course the emissions from the F1 cars themselves are a tiny part of the total generated by F1, but that’s not the point. This is about developing and promoting the use of more efficient engine technology, which has to be a good thing.

Actually, might it be that the FIA are also trying to reduce those other emissions too, by holding more races in places like China and Turkey, that nobody actually goes to 😉 ?


As long as f1 remain at the top of motorsport and has the biggest and most powerful engines i dont mind.

saying that most of f1 carbon emissions comes from travelling to races not the cars, so maybe focus on that 1st rather than the cars!


If you include the carbon emissions of fans travelling to support their teams, football is ten times more carbon-intensive than F1.

That’s a guess, not a scientific fact — but it would be excellent if some statistician could do the research and publish the data.


“Formula One is, and must always be, the pinnacle of world motor sport,” said a FOTA statement.

Very funny. The cars are still bloody fast, indeed. But they cant even make unambiguous regulations, the stewards make questionable decisions race after race…

Going “green” is a nice idea. I would like to see the whole package becoming environmentally friendlier, not only teams and drivers working their butts of to cover 300 km with less gas.

Firstly, get rid of this night race nonsense. Not to use sunlight is unreasonable. Even if the energy is produced by renewable resources, it still means losses.

Well, in addition to that,some countries that F1 visits have bigger ecological footprint than the other. But still, we see races held

in China for example. They get all the positive publicity(that even todays f1 still offers). How can this “green” F1 tolerate that?


I think the Carbon footprint of night races is mic harder than that to quantify if you want the true overall total carbon footprint!

Remember lots (perhaps still a majority?) of fans will watch the race from Europe. If the race would oterwise be at night for them it could be (without knowing the ratios of fans to location I don’t know!) that night races save carbon overall!

I’m not trying to argue for or against night racing here! Merely stating that unless you see the overall picture it’s hard to make a judgement.

Likewise arguably one should take account of what other activities watching F1 displaces and whether they use more or less CO2 per head compared with f1.

In practice the whole thing is a minefield wheee you need be very careful as to what you do to avoid thinking you are improving things when in fact you’re making them worse!


Whatever FOTA and FIA decide to slash Carbon emissions, this is a great news and a fantastic move as it shows Formula 1 is not disconnected from the rest of the world. Involved into the eco-friendly business for years, I do not know any other industry or company which would be able to 1/ announce such a short time target 2/ would be able to reach it, which I think they will.

Have a nice FOTA forum tomorrow.


Is Bono from U2 your favorite rock star?


No, why ?


Hello James,

First post so got to say really like the blog, check pretty much daily since I found it.

Whilst I agree to some extent that efforts should be made to reduce emissions across the board I really hope that F1 does not lose it’s primary focus of being at the cutting edge of racing. I read elsewhere that even 4 cylinder engines are being discussed as part of this. I hope that this is not the route taken as F1 just wouldn’t feel like F1 if the cars were powered by 1.5 litre straight 4’s.



Kinetic energy recovery systems were used in some buses long before they appeared in F1. Having said that, I think that any initiative that encourages teams to improve the efficiency of burning fossil fuels is a good move. Let’s face it, in the current climate (pun intended)if F1 cannot claim to justify its existence by providing a platform for outstanding new technology with environmental applications, it could be in for a lot of flak in future years.


Major car manufacturers will not get involved in F1 because it contradicts so much of the green image many of it’s customers want.The only possible way F1 can be significantly greener is by ceasing to exist. All the green initiatives from F1, whether from race consumption or development is a totally wasteful method of going green. There is only one real green improvement F1 can perform, cease to exist.

By all means pay lip service to the green aspect but not at the expense of racing. All you will do is erode the current fan base for a non existent one. F1 is that luxury in life driven by excitement and spectacle that we pay a price for, not the BP economy challenge.

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