In the news this week, the use of facial recognition technology by Formula 1 authorities to prevent “Just Stop Oil” campaigners from attending the British Grand Prix has sparked intense controversy. While the methods of the “Just Stop Oil” protesters may be disputed, their message is one that cannot be ignored – humanity urgently needs to halt its reliance on fossil fuels.
The environmental impact of Formula 1 is substantial, contributing significantly to global carbon emissions. According to an Environmental Impact Assessment released by F1 in 2019¹, the sport produces approximately 256,000 tonnes of CO₂ each year. Astonishingly, 73% of these emissions are generated by logistics – moving the race set-ups across the globe for the 23 races each year. Surprisingly, only a small fraction – 0.7% – of F1’s emissions come directly from the cars on the track.
The question then arises – instead of investing heavily in technology to keep campaigners out, could Formula 1 use its resources and influence to pioneer the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs)? By doing so, it would not only align with the pressing need for environmental conservation but also signal Britain’s commitment to addressing the global climate crisis.
Many people harbor a deep-seated emotional connection to the internal combustion engine. The roar of a high-performance engine stirs something primal in us, linking us to an era of raw power and technological triumph. We must, however, recognize that at over 160 years old, this technology has reached the end of its innovation journey. Conversely, EV technology is still in its infancy, with limitless potential for improvement and optimization.
And yes, electric vehicles can indeed be faster than their internal combustion engine counterparts. Tesla’s Model S Plaid, for example, can hit 60mph in under two seconds – a feat few traditional sports cars can match. As battery technology and energy density improve, so too will the performance of electric vehicles.
Beyond the immediate environmental benefits, a shift towards quieter, cleaner electric vehicles could have significant mental health benefits. Noise pollution, like the relentless drone of traffic, is a silent stressor that can lead to anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances. A world of quieter electric vehicles could bring about a surprising uplift in urban mental health.
Air pollution, primarily caused by burning fossil fuels, is another often overlooked public health hazard. Chronic exposure to polluted air can increase the risk of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. By championing electric vehicles, Formula 1 could not only drive technological innovation but also promote societal wellbeing.
In conclusion, while Formula 1’s use of facial recognition to deter protests is noteworthy, it’s not the race we should be focusing on. Instead, let’s press the accelerator on the transition to electric vehicles, for the sake of our planet, our health, and future generations. It’s a race we all need to win.
- Formula 1 (2019). Sustainability Strategy. [online] Formula 1. Available at: https://corp.formula1.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Environmental-sustainability-Corp-website-vFINAL.pdf [Accessed 9 Jul. 2023].