Formula 1 goes green



Max Mosley recently made a speech to the International Advanced Mobility Forum (IAMF) at the Geneva Motor Show about Formula 1’s move towards an “energy efficient future”.

Whether this makes you mildly excited or sends you clean to sleep, it is certainly the right direction to go in. The sport’s carbon footprint makes driving a Range Rover look PC and the more that can be done to reduce this, the better.

Honda has been leading the race to become the ‘greenest team on the grid’ and certainly pays attention to detail – at the Monaco Grand Prix last year the team unveiled their low-emission scooters for pottering around the pits.


“The whole team is committed to reducing its impact on the environment,” said Button. “Using ultra-low emission scooters is just one way that we are doing this. On a personal level, I spend a lot of time in Monaco so it has been interesting to hear about the specific environmental issues affecting the region and what steps are being taken to protect it.”

How right he is but surely releasing a low-emissions scooter will make as much difference as a party cracker in a nuclear war. That’s probably why none of us really heard about it. Still, it’s all good PR and, as Tesco so rightly says, “every little helps”.

It’s only when you compare Formula 1’s efforts with those of NASCAR that you start to realize how advanced the sport really is. Just using the teams’ pit lane vehicles as an example, Honda has low-emission scooters; the NASCAR drivers have small golf karts. This may seem quite conservative for an obviously ‘un-green’ series, but then you learn that many of them have fitted Nitrous Oxide systems for that little extra boost on the way to their motor homes.


When Pete Spence, the technical director of Toyota Racing Development, was asked what measures NASCAR has taken to lower emissions he replied, “at the beginning of 2007 we converted leaded gasoline to unleaded gasoline. We are, however, still using what I would call a racing gasoline. I think it’s inevitable that in every walk of life, as we learn more about global warming that there will be pressures to become more green. The really interesting question is who defines what green is?”


Stark contrast to Mosley who, when asked a similar question declared, “in 2009 Formula 1 is going hybrid as the first stage of a programme to divert the vast research effort at the pinnacle of motor sport towards energy efficiency.”

The main benefit of going green is that it keeps the sport’s future safe. It is only a matter of time before certain individuals catch on to the fact that motor sport can be viewed as an un-eco friendly, politically incorrect sport.

If Formula 1 can be seen to be making an effort to change this and benefit the car industry in the process then Mr and Mrs Green may well just concentrate on other ‘more important matters’ like a 2002 headline suggested… “After 28 Hours, Greenpeace Protest against Floating Dustbin Ends.”

Don’t get me wrong, one day planet earth will come to a grinding halt, pack it’s bags and show us the middle finger – the more we can do to combat the problem now, the better. Whether that means riding an electric scooter or changing the face of Formula 1, it actually makes no difference. It’s the fact that they are trying to make a difference means that we’ll be able to enjoy spectacles, like that in Melbourne, for many years to come.

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