Formula 1 is moving towards hybrid engines and could use only renewable fuel in the near future

Formula 1 has millions of fans all over the world. The “fights” that are now being fought on the speedways will, in the near future, be fought against carbon emissions.

Max Verstappen, in one of the Formula 1 races. PHOTO (EPA)

Given the sport’s substantial carbon footprint, F1 has faced criticism from many environmental associations and even from its own drivers, according to

For example, Sebastian Vettel, four-time F1 world champion, recently expressed his concern. “When I get out of the car, of course I also think if there is something we can do. Is that what we have to do, waste resources, traveling the world?”, says Vettel.

In pursuit of sustainability, F1 teams pledged in 2019 to achieve a goal of net zero emissions by 2030.

As part of this goal, every team has expressed its intention to use 100% renewable fuel by 2026. F1 has just announced that it will mandate hybrid engines for competitors, vehicles that will have to use electric power equally and on the combustion one.

How big is F1’s ecological footprint

According to a report from F1, competitions release around 256,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each season.

While the cars are often the center of attention, in reality, behind-the-scenes activities have a much greater impact on the environment, as a Grand Prix event involves much more than just some cars on the track.

This includes everything from transporting teams and equipment to different international locations, to the energy used in organizing and operating the event and waste management.

A Grand Prix event features ten teams, each operating two cars, resulting in a total of 20 cars in each race.

F1 cars actually contribute the least to the sport’s emissions, accounting for only around 0.7%.

In 2013, each car consumed approximately 160 kg of fuel per Grand Prix race. By 2020, this has been reduced to 100 kg. F1 has now committed to using only 70kg of fuel/car by 2026.

The main priorities of hybrid engines in Formula 1 will be efficiency and environmental sustainability, say those involved in this phenomenon. They integrate an internal combustion engine, batteries and an energy recovery system.

Compared to conventional internal combustion engines, the inclusion of batteries would give F1 cars the ability to deliver power quickly, more efficiently. The instant torque provided by the electric power significantly improves cornering acceleration, helping to improve overall performance.

Hybrid engines also reduce fuel consumption compared to traditional engines.

To reduce the environmental impact of F1 cars, fuel plays a major role. F1 started using 10% sustainable fuel (“E10”) – a mixture of 10% renewable ethanol and 90% fossil fuel.

From 2026, sustainable fuel should be 100%, but even this still produces carbon emissions.

As the carbon footprint of F1 cars is relatively small, the sport should focus its efforts on reducing emissions from transport, logistics and related activities, experts in the field believe, cited by

Also, hosting Grand Prix races in different countries on different continents requires large logistics transfer. For example, the 2023 F1 race series visited 20 countries on five continents, resulting in significant carbon emissions.

Accordingly, F1 should consider hosting races in one country or at least one continent.

For now, however, it is impossible to say whether a transition to 100% electric cars is likely in Formula 1, as engineers must take into account aspects such as battery weight, battery safety in corners and charging infrastructure.