The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team has made a ground-breaking move by becoming the first global sports team to invest in sustainable aviation fuel. 

The Formula 1 team has made this announcement as part of their commitment to be SBTi-verified net-zero by 2030 and further reduce their CO2 emissions. 

F1 x SAF…who knew? 

German luxury and commercial automotive brand Mercedes-Benz has been involved in the highest class of single-seater motorsport, Formula 1, as a team owner and engine manufacturer for decades. 

The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team has been highly successful during its time in the international racing championship and has helped British driver Sir Lewis Hamilton become a 7-time World Champion. 

Today, the F1 team has ventured into the equally chaotic world of the aviation industry by announcing their commitment to invest in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), becoming the first global sports team to do so. 

SAF has been a major talking point within the industry in recent years as airlines are keen to meet goals, targets, and initiatives that will reduce their impact on our climate significantly. SAF is a crucial part of cutting down the harm air travel has on our environment as traditional jet fuel (Jet A-1) is highly pollutant and damaging not only in its use but in its extraction. 

Sustainable aviation fuel is a much better alternative as it not only has a very similar chemical structure to traditional jet fuel but it produces much fewer carbon emissions, allowing for a greener flight. 

(To learn more about SAF, check out this article on our site. You’ll be up to date in no time!)

In a statement, Mercedes-AMG admitted that aviation accounts for over a quarter of their entire projected carbon footprint. In motorsport, especially Formula 1, freight is an essential form of logistics. F1 teams require air or sea travel to ensure all essential items and structures arrive at the next Grand Prix along with the personnel. 

The German F1 team did explicitly state that their SAF will be used for their indirect ‘Scope 3’ aviation emissions (which are flights to Grand Prix across the globe and other relevant business air travel).

2022 Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team car
An F1 team approximately needs to transport over 40 tonnes of air freight and 23 tonnes of sea freight for a single Grand Prix. | © Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team

Mercedes-AMG believes that their “multi-million-dollar investment” in SAF will therefore improve their overall environmental impact significantly. According to the F1 constructor, it will also allow them to achieve close to their “50% reduction” in race tram personnel air travel footprint and will continue to offset remaining carbon emissions with “Gold Standards offsets”. 

The statement continued to address the team’s belief in the potential of SAF, regardless of its limited production and availability at the moment:

“While current SAF production and availability are limited, the opportunity is immense. We hope that using our powerful global platform to support the development and growth of the SAF market will showcase SAF’s potential and prove to other industries how great an impact it can have. Through our commitment, we hope to encourage others to do the same, driving further investment in SAF production.”

MALAYSIA AIRLINES SAF
In June, Malaysia Airlines flew its first commercial flight powered by SAF. Malaysian oil and gas company PETRONAS fuelled the aircraft with SAF. PETRONAS is also a Title and Technical Partner sponsor of Mercedes-AMG F1. | © Malaysia Airlines

Alice Ashpitel is the Sustainability & Environmental Manager at the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team. She commented on the announcement made by the Brackley-based team:

“Our aim is to embed sustainability in every decision we make and action we take. We believe that Sustainable Aviation Fuel can change the way that sports and businesses more generally, as some of the biggest users of aviation, can exert a positive influence on the outside world. We hope to play a leading role in showcasing what’s possible with SAF and prove to other industries what can be achieved.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal, and CEO of Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, complemented Ashpitel’s comments. He discussed the potential of SAF and its ability to transform the way we travel and the impact we have on the environment whilst doing so. He continued:

“I fly a lot; the team flies a lot. If we must fly, then we need to find a better way to do so and SAF is the best solution available to the aviation industry right now. We aim to be on the cutting edge of change, using our global motorsport platform as a model for a more sustainable and diversified future.”

Mercedes-AMG’s commitment to SAF also reflects the desire within the sport as a whole to be more environmentally conscious. 

What is F1 doing to improve its sustainability?

Formula 1, or the FIA Formula One World Championship, is similar to aviation in that its very existence calls for the production of harmful emissions. But, just like the air travel industry, motorsport as a whole is working hard to reduce its negative impact. 

Formula 1 as an organisation has set a target of hitting net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. In order to achieve that goal, a new 100% sustainable drop-in fuel will be introduced to F1 cars from 2026 in line with next-generation hybrid engines. The new fuel will be made using municipal waste, components from a carbon-capture scheme, or non-food biomass. Similar to some SAF.

F1 net zero 2030
In 2019, Formula 1 committed to being net-zero by 2030. | © F1

And, as of this year, the sport made the switch to an E10 fuel, which is a mixture of 90% fossil fuel and 10% ethanol. 

What a collaboration! Do you think it’s a good idea? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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