F1 planning to split race schedule into regionalised calendar

<span>Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Formula One has confirmed its commitment to introducing a regionalised calendar in future seasons. As part of its goal of reaching net zero carbon by 2030 the sport will attempt to rationalise a calendar that is currently inefficient and detrimental in its environmental impact.

In 2019 F1 committed to reaching net zero and has been adopting new practices to fulfil its target. The sport published its report into the progress made on sustainability, diversity and inclusion on Tuesday.

The report catalogues F1’s actions including introducing remote broadcasting operations, redesigning freight containers enabling the use of more efficient aeroplanes and using 100% renewable energy in the sport’s offices.

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However by far the greatest part of F1’s carbon footprint is generated by air travel to and from race meetings. Next year the calendar is still planned to be 24 races and includes, because of previously agreed contractual arrangements, scheduling that entails unnecessary flying.

The race in Miami is to be held immediately after Azerbaijan, Canada is set between Spain and Austria. Japan is followed by Qatar and then the US GP and at the end of the season, Las Vegas is followed by Abu Dhabi.

The report confirmed that “planning for a future calendar regionalisation was under way”. It is expected the new schedule would see the sport compete in four regions, each hosting its own “season” comprising the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and east Asia/Australia.

The plans will likely be welcomed by the teams as they entail a cost saving in freight fees and will reduce travel for personnel during a lengthy season. There is, however, no timeline as yet for its implementation.

It will take time, likely several years as F1 requires existing contracts, which specify the time of year meetings are held, to end. There will also be negotiations required around races such as Abu Dhabi which pays a premium to be the last GP of the season.

The report also said F1 was on course to meet its target of using 100% carbon neutral, sustainable fuel by 2026 when the new engine regulations are applied. This year cars are using a fuel with a 10% sustainable ethanol element. By 2026 the intent is to be running them on a 100% synthetic fuel, which is currently being developed. The fuel will be designed to work in road cars and neutral in that the process used to produce it would be carbon negative to offset the carbon produced by its use in an engine.

Ellen Jones, the head of sustainability at F1, welcomed the steps the sport had made in the last three years. “It’s fantastic to see the progress that’s been made already,” she said. “The work that’s going on behind the scenes to bring this strategy to life is tireless and we are confident that we are building strong foundations for the future of our business and sport.”