Formula E tops racing series sustainability rankings, F1 a surprise second  

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Following a sustainability report ranking global racing circuits, released in the middle of 2021, the company behind the Sustainable Motorsport Index, Enovation Consulting, has released its Sustainable Championships Index (SChI).

The SChI attempts to assess motorsport stakeholders’ sustainability practices against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework and elements of the Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Framework.

According to Enovation, the primary goal of the study is to inform and to empower championships to disclose and adopt sustainable practices, and to engage with key stakeholders across their ecosystem to progress on their journey toward a more sustainable future.

A total of 106 global racing series were looked at in the report, covering both two and four-wheel competition. Championships representing all classes of motorsport, and all types of propulsion systems (e.g., internal combustion engine, hybrid engine, battery electric etc.) were included. The sustainability performance of each championship was assessed by using 25 sustainability performance criteria across six broad areas: certifications, accreditations and awards, environmental criteria, social criteria, engagement and partnerships, and sustainability approach.

The methodology for the study was developed in collaboration with sustainability expert Professor Paolo Taticchi, professor of strategy and sustainability at UCL School of Management. Key findings in the 2022 edition of the Sustainability Championships Index show that Formula E is leading the way in terms of sustainability strategy and implementation, followed, somewhat surprisingly, by Formula 1 in second position, and Moto GP in third.

While it should come as no surprise that FE ranked top, F1 does not seem like a natural fit in second place. However, as the report summarized. “Formula 1’s journey has not always been a sustainable one, but the championship has certainly evolved and adapted over the years, putting sustainability at the forefront of many of the organization’s decisions and initiatives in recent years. Among the many achievements that earned Formula 1 the second place in this study is the emphasis the championship has placed on sustainability in relation to its social, and most recently environmental, impact, and to disclosure of its efforts. With a total of 23 events during the 2021 season, the strides Formula One has made to embrace and integrate sustainability throughout the organization are commendable.”

Extreme E, which regularly touts its environmental credentials (and has also just released its own sustainability report), ranked fourth, with the report noting, “Although a great demonstration of sustainability leadership and best practice, this championship only offers five rounds per year, making their sustainability impact with stakeholders, local communities and promoters very limited compared to 12 races of the leader, ABB FIA Formula E, or 18 races of Moto GP. Finally, it also needs to be noted that the championship also benefits from the best practice developed by the leader of our scoreboard, showing how sharing best practice between championships can accelerate the transition to sustainability.”

The report and index are based entirely on publicly disclosed data collected between July and November 2021. The report’s authors remark that while progress is being made among the leaders, 72 championships feature in the bottom performance tier, highlighting the need for greater disclosure practices across the industry.

Professor Taticchi summarized, “While more advancement is still needed in the area of sustainable transformation, across all sectors, I am encouraged by the progress the motorsport industry has made in recent in years. Based on an independent research-driven approach, the SChI sheds light on what leading championships are doing well, as well as on areas for improvement for all industry stakeholders to consider. It is through this kind of industry-wide collaboration that meaningful and sustainable transformation can be achieved.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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