Since its birth in 1950, Formula 1 has become the world’s most exciting auto racing competition. Each year, teams spend a collective sum of $3 billion dollars. Their cars race at speeds that go all the way up to 360 km/h, but F1 is not only about going faster: it is also about endurance, security and innovation.
Certainly, the excessive environment that surrounds Formula 1 races has raised some concerns regarding the CO2 emissions that go hand in hand with every Grand Prix. However, Mike Scott has argued that the sport is actually “a hotbed of innovation that has long been obsessed with fuel efficiency”.
It makes sense that teams compete to reduce the amount of fuel they carry, because a lower weight on their cars translates into a faster performance. Hybrid cars that are now available to millions of people carry technologies that were born within Formula 1: turbocharging, kinetic energy recovery systems, fuel injection…
Just like open innovation tournaments make crowdsourcing a marketplace of ideas, competition among Formula 1 teams also creates a quest towards the development of better opportunities. World-class engineers team up to develop sports cars that will be put to the test in front of a global audience.
Research group Trucost surprised many when it explained that races are responsible for less than 1% of F1’s total emissions: in reality, it is the production of the cars that carries a higher environmental footprint. Between 2009 and 2011, Trucost worked with several Formula 1 teams and was able to cut emissions by an average of almost 7%. According to the CEO of this research group, “F1 is fundamentally about efficiency: how to squeeze performance within the restrictions of physics and the rules. Engineering excellence within Formula 1 has fed through to the motor industry on a broader level for many decades”.
Regulation by F1 bosses has also increased efficiency. Since 2014, cars carry 1.6 litre engines instead of 2.4 litre machines, which could reduce total fuel consumption by 40%. If that were not enough, last year also saw the birth of Formula E, a similar competition where only electric cars are allowed.
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