With top speeds of around 338 km/h, plumes of smoke and high fuel consumption, the motorsports industry is not automatically conjured up in minds when considering environmentally friendly sectors.
Motorsports green innovation

Yet motorsports leaders are launching impressive green initiatives to lessen the impact the sport has on the world around us, with the potential to change the face of the sport and the way we all travel. Let’s take a look at green initiatives within motorsports, starting with Formula E.

Formula E

In 2011, FIA President Jean Todt and Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag dreamt up the concept of Formula E in a restaurant in Paris. It was the beginning of the world’s first all-electric international singleseater championship. The duo wanted to prove that sustainable racing was possible to help create a better, cleaner world. Formula E was launched in Beijing in 2014, and now with 11 teams and 22 drivers on the grid, it attracts global corporate sponsors, plus the world’s best motorsport teams and talent.

Coincidentally, a number of Gallagher employees were involved in becoming the first-ever insurance broking advisors of Formula E and have been working alongside Formula E from the very beginning.

Extreme E

Founded again by Agag, this time with former IRL and F1 driver Gil de Ferran, Extreme E will see all-electric SUVs race across five remote locations in 2021 to raise awareness of climate issues. Scientists will travel with the teams to investigate the effects of climate change – with tree-planting, clean-up operations and solar-power initiatives taking place along the way. Extreme E aims to impress the importance of the environment on younger generations and act as a catalyst for change. Extreme E fan Lewis Hamilton will have his own team participating in the inaugural season of the Extreme E electric offroad racing series.

“Extreme E really appealed to me because of its environmental focus,” he says. “Every single one of us has the power to make a difference, and it means so much to me that I can use my love of racing, together with my love for our planet, to have a positive impact.”1

Formula 1

Sometimes perceived as a polluter, Formula 1 has actually done the maths to calculate its exact impact on the environment. The resulting calculations show that just 0.7% of F1’s carbon footprint of 256,551 tons annually is generated by its internal combustion engines.2 The rest is created by the ‘show’ – for example people coming to watch the event, the logistics and the facilities. If you separate out the impact in this way, F1 is actually greener than the Olympics or FIFA World Cup in terms of emissions.

Plans are in place to improve F1 further to become more environmentally friendly. An example would be using sea freight wherever feasible, and low-carbon fleets to travel from country to country or travel whilst in-country, as well as sequencing races in cities that are closer to each other. F1’s overall green objective is to move towards a net-zero carbon footprint, with power units fuelled 100% by fully advanced, sustainable fuels by 20303 . The initiative also includes:

  • Having 100% renewably powered offices, facilities and factories.
  • By 2025 ensuring all F1 events are sustainable by using sustainable materials, with single-use plastics being eliminated and all waste reused, recycled, or composted.
  • Providing incentives and tools to offer every fan a greener way to reach the race and ensure circuits and facilities enhance fan wellbeing and nature.
  • Providing opportunities for local people, businesses and causes to get more involved in the action during a Formula 1 race weekend.4

F1 is also in the unique position of being able to develop green technologies for motorsports that will one day play a key role in the future of the automotive industry across the world. According to a recent article on Formula1.com:

“We believe that with over 1 billion of the 1.1 billion vehicles in the world powered by Internal Combustion Engines, we have the potential to lead the way in technologies that reduce automotive carbon emissions globally.”5

Battery technologies

Formula E electric batteries designed by Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) propel cars up to 225 km/h. They are the first lithium-ion battery to pass stringent FIA crash testing regulations and meet air safety regulations so they can be transported around the world for races. Plus, they are practical in terms of aerodynamics, range and recharging times. In 2018, Williams received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation6 for its ability to design, develop and deliver these batteries for all Formula E cars racing in the championship, while ensuring the transfer of knowledge to road cars and other forms of sustainable transport outside the series. Evidence indeed that motorsport is paving the way for sustainable innovation across the industry and onto our driveways.

According to Iain Wight, Business Development Director at WAE:

“We’re extremely proud to be involved in this exciting initiative which we believe is key to the future of sports car racing; allowing for a standard set of regulations on both sides of the Atlantic…we have grown our world class expertise in all areas of lightweight electrification which will help secure the technical longevity of the series at the same time as meeting the future demands of hybrid systems for manufacturers.”7

Electric karting

Young people’s experience of motorsports often starts on the go-karting track. And now, the new go-karting is ‘e-karting’ – or electric go-karting – holding events such as the Electric GT Championship and running multiple races held over the course of a weekend, celebrating technology, sustainability and innovation. This is the training ground for future racing stars and it’s environmentally friendly, too. According to the EPA, gas-powered engines like those in go-karts produce the same emissions in just an hour as a typical car driving 350 miles. Electric go-karts, on the other hand, produce zero emissions for a cleaner and safer driving experience.8


Finally, motor racing in the form of an esport is environmentally friendly and its popularity is booming. Amateur drivers or sim drivers can race against professional drivers using online video gaming from the comfort of their own home. There’s no need to travel anywhere or use an actual racing car. The only power consumed is from the plug socket in the wall. Esports events have turned casual gamers into stars with high earnings and top brand endorsements.

So, despite common misconceptions, leading minds in the world of motorsports are making significant environmentally friendly changes to the way the industry operates, with these changes one day set to transform the way we all move from A to B. Watch this space.

Cover for changing risks

With motorsports adapting to become greener, the risks are changing too. Our team at Gallagher has the knowledge and insurance markets available to advise you on specialist motorsport insurance and risk management.


  1. https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/12066332/lewis-hamilton-launches-team-for-extreme-e-the-electric-off-road-series
  2. https://www.racefans.net/2019/11/13/why-formula-1-couldnt-ignore-the-green-agenda-any-longer/
  3. https://www.racefans.net/2019/11/13/why-formula-1-couldnt-ignore-the-green-agenda-any-longer/
  4. https://corp.formula1.com/formula-1-update-on-sustainability-progress/
  5. https://corp.formula1.com/formula-1-update-on-sustainability-progress/
  6. https://www.wae.com/what-we-do/case-studies/formula-e
  7. https://www.pesmedia.com/wae-lmdh-programme-24092020/
  8. https://tampabaygp.com/blog/gas-versus-electric-go-karts/