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  • Writer's pictureEster Fonseca-Patriarco

CO2 Emissions From a Formula 1 Car

In 2014, FIA introduced hybrid engines in Formula 1. However, explaining the intricacies of those engines is a complex endeavor. A hybrid engine combines the power of both an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and an electric motor working together to produce significantly more power than either would be able to achieve on their own. This combination enables high-performance cars to reach higher top speeds, reduce fuel consumption, and increase braking performance by utilizing regenerative braking. The ICE is responsible for achieving a majority of the car's performance, while the electric motor provides instantaneous torque for better acceleration out of corners and provides an extra boost during overtaking maneuvers.

Charles Leclerc Formula 1 Ferrari Bolid in 2020 Season. Photo by PRAT Clement on Pexels.

The Impact of CO2 Emissions from Formula 1 Cars on the Environment

The efficiency of F1 car engines helps increase fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. A report published in 2019 showed that the CO2 emissions associated with F1's power unit were equivalent to less than 1% of the sports' total emissions. The amount included power unit emissions across all the 10 teams, during a whole season, and at pre-, mid- or post-season testing.

While logistics, business travel, facilities and factories, and event operations were responsible for more than 90% of the sports' scope 1, 2 and 3 total emissions, Formula 1 cars are still responsible for a small part of carbon emissions. In 2019, they emitted 1,795 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to 351 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year. These emissions have a drastic effect on the environment and lead to increased pollution, global warming, and other environmental issues. In order to reduce the negative environmental impacts of F1 cars, solutions have been proposed, such as reducing engine power, improving fuel efficiency, and using alternative fuels.

As part of their plan to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030, the series is now on course to deliver 100% sustainable fuels for 2026. Currently, F1 has been using a blend of 90% fuel and 10% renewable ethanol. While the fuel blend can help reduce the CO2 emissions from the cars, it is a short-term solution. Therefore, F1 is committed to researching and developing a more sustainable synthetic fuel, or E fuel, which will be designed with a "drop-in" feature. According to F1, that feature can help accelerate adoption and reduce costs for use in existing road cars, either ICE or hybrids.

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