News and Insight

Opinion: Why F1’s positive CSR movements should no longer come as a surprise

Few sports have done more than Formula 1 to enforce change for the better in recent times. Arguably, none have, which may still come as a surprise to many.


Whether it was assisting in the build of life-saving ventilators during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing its plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030 or introducing the #WeRaceAsOne initiative to improve inclusion and diversity across the board, the sport has made no shortage of important strides that have generated news headlines in the last six months.

It’s not just Formula 1 as an entity making moves, either. The constructors themselves are too paving the way for a more sustainable, all-encompassing incarnation of the sport we love.

Mercedes’ new black livery for the 2020 season – another signal of commitment to greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport – has been at the forefront of those statements. McLaren have also instilled rainbow-coloured streaks on their chassis, as a “universal symbol of unity, solidarity and hope”.

Once considered behind the times and out of touch with an ever-changing world, Formula 1 and all involved with it are now setting the standards for positive change across global sport and society.

But for those who remain surprised by it, perhaps needn’t be. There has been plenty of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives being executed for a while.


Take Williams’ Advanced Engineering, who helped introduce energy saving Aerofoil refrigeration to major UK supermarket Sainsbury’s back in 2017. 

Initially technology that was created to divert air over and around race cars to maximise performance, these days it helps prevent the waste of cold air, which now directs back into the units. This innovative, F1-inspired concept not only keeps aisles warmer and reduces food waste, but has helped Sainsbury’s record a 15% energy saving across its nationwide stores.

Elsewhere, McLaren have provided data management, predictive analytics and simulation assistance to clinical research firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for nearly a decade. Their contribution helps explore and understand new compounds more comprehensively, allowing GSK to reach swifter, better informed decisions about its medicine discovery processes.

The sport’s ability to initiate technology that later improves lives even extends to the treatment room, where data systems evolutionised  from Formula 1 can now continuously monitor patients in intensive care wards and improve operational procedures. 

On track, it’s no different. Since a shake up in the rules for 2014, Formula 1 engines now boast 20% more power, yet produce 26% less in the way of CO2 emissions. Overall, they’re 10% more efficient – a seismic figure considering it’s been achieved in just six seasons.

Such progress has also made its way to the road cars of the participating manufacturers, and taken on other forms to power city transport, buildings and businesses. A greener sport, lighting the way for a greener everyday life.

For good measure, F1-derived technology across 5G infrastructure now drives complex road, rail, underground and even air transportation systems around the world – ensuring maximum efficiency for highly-complex logistical demands.

As someone who’s worked in and around the sport for constructors, brands and agencies for many years, I’m proud that Formula 1 continues to be at the forefront of thought leadership, innovations and CSR efforts.

Too often branded as the world’s most expensive and glamorous exhaustion of fossil fuels, it is doing much more in the way of implementing change than that of many of its critics. 

While the events of 2020 have undoubtedly helped lift the lid on these good news stories to a greater extent – and even shown how it can do more – make no mistake, the goodwill of the paddock has long been at play.

Roll on the racing in Spielberg this weekend, where Formula 1 returns an even better sport.