Formula 1 is far from a low impact sport but Silverstone Circuits managing director Stuart Pringle says meaningful steps to reduce the environmental footprint of the British Grand Prix is at the top of his agenda
Loved by ‘petrolheads’, the high-octane world of Formula 1 (F1) motor racing has for many years had a huge environmental impact, not least from the racing itself but also factors such as audience travel and the teams repeatedly moving equipment and personnel worldwide during the racing season.
In 2019 F1 announced a commitment to reach Net-Zero by 2030 as part a wider sustainability strategy that includes the development of new engines and a move to 100% sustainable fuel by 2026. This year F1 moved to E10 fuel; a mixture of 90% fossil fuel and 10% ethanol.
Silverstone MD Stuart Pringle says the venue has already made significant steps towards F1’s 2030 goal: “We are looking to reduce our footprint as significantly and as quickly as we possibly can. It’s a change in mindset for the way that we run the business.”
Among the changes at this year’s Grand Prix was the installation of 1,500 recycling bins, the adding of water points, charging stations for electric vehicles and plant-based catering options. Perhaps most significantly, more than 1,300 solar panels have been fitted on the roof of the Wing building (pictured) in the F1 paddock.
“That’s only half the number we intend to put up there, we’ll get the rest in by September,” says Pringle. “We’re going to put in a further £1.5 million worth of solar panels, taking our total investment to more than £3m. By Christmas, we’ll be generating 13% of our annual energy requirement in-house.”
More than 140,000 people per day visited Silverstone over the British Grand Prix weekend in July. While many people travel to and from the circuit during the event, Pringle says 45,000 people camp for the entire event. The availability of public transport option is promoted, and from next year Silverstone will enable ticket buyers to offset their travel at the point of purchase. However, when it comes to the wider operation, Pringle is not a fan of offsetting.
“I’ve seen too many companies fall into traps where they say ‘we’re going to be Carbon Zero by x or y, and then they struggle to meet it or start bending the definition. I would rather we announce what we’ve done and allow people to judge us on our actions rather than make some grandiose statement that we may or may not deliver against in five-or-10-years’ time.
“We are just saying we’re going to do the best we can as quickly as we can, working with F1 to massively reduce the footprint. We’ll announce our various initiatives as we get through them. So, for example, for the second year in a row we ran all our temporary power generators on HVO biofuel, which led to a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with diesel. We are working steadily and professionally through a long list of initiatives to improve the venue.”