In 2019, Formula announced that by 2030 they planned of having a net-zero carbon footprint. This plan covers areas including logistics, use of renewable fuels and reducing waste.
Their plan’s intention includes to make grand prix sustainable by 2025 by eliminating single-use plastics and starting recycling and reusing waste activities, among other dynamics. Also, as part of the new-for-2026 power unit regulations, renewable fuels are going to streamline Formula 1’s hybrid engine designs.
Vettel, weighing in on this last part of the topic, said that as impressive as that the hybrid engines plan is, Formula 1 should emphasize on its carbon footprint as a spectator sport as it has become more popular, especially with the calendar expansion to 24 races a year.
The German driver thinks F1 should put back into the sport some of its revenue, reinvesting it into current promoters to help them introduce initiatives to reduce the footprint of its spectators and make a greener event.
At a summit hosted by World eX, an esports championship that promotes zero-emission mobility and energy, Vettel said that events that draw a big crowd must live up to the responsibilities that come with that.
"Obviously we attract big crowds in Formula 1. I think that the sport got more popular in recent years with a new fan bases, especially in North America, making the sport bigger and grow,” he said.
"But with that there's more people that need to get to the track, that need to be managed when they are at the track. So yes, there's a lot that can be done, similar to other big events.
"Obviously, how people get to the event, public transport is not just a big topic in general but also coming and going from events, so there's lots of things I think we can do.
"In the end we need to take some of the sort of turnover or money that Formula 1 in particular makes and try and reinvest to the promoters and give them the chance to decide for a better, greener, cleaner solution when it comes to handling crowds and dealing with the event."
The German had spoken earlier on how, due to their expense and complexity, the current hybrid engines had little road relevance – an issue that is set to be partially addressed by the changes in 2026.
Although motorsports events are no more polluting than other events attracting masses, the sport has been coming under further scrutiny from politicians and activists alike. Vettel argues that F1 can counter any questions posed by the outside world by reconnecting with already developing sustainable technologies that are beneficial to the whole society and not just the sport.
"Ultimately it doesn't make a big difference whether we are driving cars, or having a music concert or doing other things, looking at the big crowd and the footprint of the crowd itself," he said.
"But it comes back to the question of relevance. And if we don't find a way to really help shifting change, and contribute to the fact that everybody benefits from what we're doing for fun, and the innovation in engineering that comes with it, then I think very soon the question will come up: 'Okay, what is the point?'
"We get the point, because we love it, we are motorsport enthusiasts, and you don't need to explain it to us. But if you zoom out and speak to a crowd that has nothing to do with motorsports, very rightly, I think these questions will come up in the future.
"So it is up to us to be ahead to be a lap ahead and not get lapped, so to say, with the enormous power that we have.
"We're spending a lot of money in motorsport but with that comes a lot of innovation and engineering and power that can be channelled in a better direction, so that everybody even outside of motorsport one day benefits, whether then the answer is electric, or hydrogen or something else,” he added.
Formula 1 has stated that part of the plan to be net-zero by 2030 is making grand prix sustainable events by working with promoters, including both at the event and means of travelling to them.