Sustainable motorsport is increasingly becoming important to series and teams throughout the racing world. Regardless of whether the series is ICE powered or not, it is becoming clear that making the sport more sustainable is a priority for a number of reasons for all stakeholders. Those reasons include but are not limited to; relevance to current industry trends such as the move to EVs, relevance to current and future fans who are increasingly conscious of the environmental impacts of the sport and relevance to the sustainability of the sport as a whole. As I point out in my review of the Formula E film “And We Go Green”
If motorsport causes or is perceived to cause more damage than what it is worth socially, it will be either legislated out of existence by governments or made economically nonviable by insurance companies. The sport has no choice but to change with the times.https://www.motorsportprospects.com/a-look-at-the-formula-e-racing-documentary-and-we-go-green-and-sustainability-in-motorsport/
As a race driver, it is imperative that you are both aware of and knowledgeable about the topic both for the opportunities it may present to you to race in a “non-traditional” racing series as well as the opportunities that sustainable motorsport may present to you in terms of potential sponsorship opportunities. Here is a round-up of some sustainable motorsport developments that may be of interest to a driver.
I was planning on including a lot of what I am writing here in last week’s Weekly Debrief but there was just too much to fit in!
The Business of Motorsport
Formula E and Extreme E are proving that sponsors are attracted to electric motorsport. Whether they are currently involved in the sport or brand new to motorsport, being associated with a sport considered to be environmentally conscious, regardless of the motivation fits in with a lot of marketing and technical agendas. As Forbes points out in Formula E Racing Series Is On The Fast Track To Business Success:
And while 2019 saw the racing series run a profit for the first time in its history—with revenues up 50% to more than 200 million euros ($220.54 million) over 2018, according to Reuters, and profit at around 1 million euros, buoyed by a 25% increase in sponsorship—the lack of fans in 2020 made a sizable dent in revenues, as it did with all forms of motorsports.
Corporate sponsors represent a large revenue stream for Formula E, which, like F1, races worldwide, attracting sponsors looking for a global reach. The series has sponsors ranging from the endemic such as Michelin, the official tire for the cars, to Bosch and BMW to partners like DHL for transportation and TAG Hauer and Moet & Chandon for lifestyle.https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2021/05/05/formula-e-racing-series-is-on-the-fast-track-to-business-success/
Beyond the series themselves, the increased incorporation of sustainability in motorsport presents a number of opportunities for drivers. Motorsport Prospects has covered this in both Tristan Niesslein’s two part series “Sustainability, Partnerships and the Racing Driver” (Part 1 & Part 2) as well as in my recent article Getting Green Tech Motorsport Sponsorship in this Age of Sustainability where we both go into some considerable depth on why this presents new sponsorship opportunities for the racing driver as well as being the right thing to do for both the driver and the planet.
Not convinced? How about this little nugget that I posted in last week’s Weekly Debrief.
Motorsports Fans Could Lead the Way in Electric Vehicle Adoption. That’s right. According to the article:
A recent Morning Consult survey found that motorsports fans are more likely than the public to consider buying or leasing an all-electric vehicle within the next 10 years, assuming they were in the market for a new car. Among all adults, 43 percent of respondents said they would likely consider such a vehicle, compared with 55 percent of motorsports fans and 75 percent of “avid” motorsports fans.
Fifteen percent of motorsports fans said they already drive a hybrid or all-electric automobile, compared with 8 percent of adults. In addition, about 1 in 4 avid motorsports fans said they own a hybrid or all-electric vehicle. The share of survey respondents currently driving hybrid cars was about three times as large as the share driving all-electric vehicles.
“A car fan is a car fan: They know more statistically about vehicle makes, models, what’s coming out new, what is being talked about or rumored than the general public,” Beer said. “I’m sure there’ll be a portion of that fan base that doesn’t want to see change or may be resistant to change, but most car people are interested in just cool cars and, more importantly, cool technology.”https://morningconsult.com/2021/05/04/motorsports-fan-poll-electric-vehicles/
Not only that but when I mentioned in the introduction that one of the reasons the sport is moving towards an increase in sustainability because that is where their fans and society as a whole is going, statistics back this up.
Motorsports fans expressed similar levels of concern about climate change and its impacts as the general population, with 39 percent saying they were “very concerned” and 33 percent saying they were “somewhat concerned.” Sixty-two percent of avid motorsports fans were “very concerned” about climate change, with another 21 percent identifying as “somewhat concerned.”https://morningconsult.com/2021/05/04/motorsports-fan-poll-electric-vehicles/
Doing your research will identify a number of potential sponsors that may not have previously considered motorsport for a number of reasons. Arming yourself with these statistics will at least enable you to start a conversation with them. Who knows where it will lead?
A Hands On Learning Opportunity
You can get even more usable information on both sponsorship acquisition as well as electric racing with the recently announced ERA Championship Driver bootcamp I recently wrote about. Jess Shanahan of Racing Mentor will be offering sponsorship and media training during the bootcamp.
Racing Mentor will be working closely with drivers during the four-week bootcamp. Through a mix of group workshops and one-on-one sessions, they’ll learn valuable sponsorship skills. Alongside this, they’ll also receive media training, a vital part of any racing driver’s arsenal of skills.https://blog.racingmentor.com/news/racing-mentor-to-offer-sponsorship-and-media-training-during-the-era-championship-bootcamp/
As more and more teams and drivers increasingly embrace sustainability both in their private lives and their motorsport activities, the opportunities to make an impact both on and off the track will only increase and this may help you to be part of that opportunity.
Sustainability in Current and Future Racing Series
I have already covered a number of sustainability developments in a number of racing series such as Formula 1, Formula E, NASCAR, Indycar and IMSA but here are some more that may be of interest.
The World Rally Championship has committed to introduce fully sustainable fuels from 2022.
As part of the agreement, P1 Racing Fuels and its partners will work together to create a fossil-fuel free, hydrocarbon-based fuel, which will be made up of a mixture of synthetic and biofuels.
This unique fuel, created especially for the introduction of hybrid cars in WRC’s Rally1 class, is the first of its kind to be used in a FIA-mandated world championship series.https://www.blackbookmotorsport.com/news/wrc-fia-rally-sustainable-fuels-hybrid-2022-2021
This, along with Formula 1’s embrace of sustainable fuels for their new hybrid engines from 2025 onward highlight an important factor when it comes to sustainability both in motorsport and in society in general and that is that one solution does not currently suit all. Just as an airplane or an agricultural thresher is not suitable for current battery technology do to its power requirements, neither does a series like the WRC. In the latest edition of Revolution, the monthly magazine from Motorsport UK, Malcolm Wilson brings up this very point.
I don’t believe every motorsport discipline can neccessarily go 100% electric. There are some where it can work – Rallycross is a perfect platform for instance – but for now hybrids are an important first step in making the sport more sustainable and using it as a platform for road car manufacturers to get that message to their customers.Vantage Point- Revolution Magazine May 2021
Like society as a whole, some series will be able to go fully electric sooner than others but it is certainly not for a lack of trying, there just has to be a transition period.
In addition to the WRC, the recently announced FIA Electric GT Series is fascinating because it gives the newly announced promoter Discovery an opportunity to weave a story around the series that will highlight both the on track drama as well as the sustainability message, much like what is currently being done in Extreme E.
Sport Business recently interviewed Eurosport president Andrew Georgiou (Eurosport is a subsidiary of Discovery) in Georgiou: Electric GT strategy demonstrates value of Discovery+ and in the article he points out how excited they are about the potential there are for meaningful stories to come from their promotion of electric GT racing.
To explain why a company like Discovery is investing so heavily in electric racing, Georgiou says a “macro view” is essential. The launch of the Discovery+ streaming service around the world at the start of this year has presented a much greater opportunity for the company to not only promote the properties in the Eurosport Events portfolio, but to tie its sporting products back into its work in documentary and reality programming, where both environmentally-conscious and automotive-focused shows are widely popular.https://www.sportbusiness.com/2021/05/georgiou-electric-gt-strategy-demonstrates-value-of-discovery/
This ties in with what I have always maintained is a critical part of any sponsorship pitch and that is a story that resonates with people (including the sponsor!).
Finally, while Pure ETCR gets ready for its launch, they have announced that they will be a FIA World Cup from 2022 which adds touring cars to the list of motorsport categories that are embracing sustainability. Developments are moving fast and furiously.
Green Tech in Motorsport and the Automotive Industry
Curious about some of the developments in Green Tech and how it could possibly relate to motorsport? Check out some of these developments. Not all are necessarily applicable and some of these may never see the light of day but the width and breadth of developments are in my opinion both exciting and innovative, just what motorsport is supposed to be about.
These are just a few examples of some of the innovations happening in this space. Food for thought and research.
It Can Be Sport and Also Make a Lasting Impact Off the Track
At the end of the day, motorsport is first and foremost a sport. While sustainability will allow it to continue and even thrive, it must never detract from the sporting spectacle as it will diminish its impact outside the track. If done right, motorsport can make a greater impact while remaining the sport that we love. As Pat Symonds explains in the Autosport Plus article Why sustainability is being mandated by F1
Being at the forefront of automotive innovation gives Formula 1 a global platform to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions in an industry that is an effective microcosm of so many others. In so doing, Formula 1 can demonstrate, ahead of the radical innovations being introduced to the cars and power units themselves running up to 2025, that we all need to consider the bigger picture rather than just focusing on point of use.https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/why-sustainability-is-being-mandated/6504159/
I love motorsport. It is a passion that is shared by millions and it is that passion that fuels those involved. If we can increase the excitement on the track while decreasing its impact off of it, I consider that to be a win win scenario. It will also attract more fans and more importantly for drivers potentially more sponsors. What can possibly be wrong with that?
A New Extreme E Podcast
I mentioned Jess Shanahan from Racing Mentor and Tristan Niesslein of Niesslein Sustainability Partners already in this article but it was great to hear that they are teaming up for a new podcast where the very topic of sustainable motorsport will be front and center! Focusing on Extreme E, Jess describes the podcast like this:
We’ll be talking about the three Es of Environment, Electric, and Equality. Plus we’ll be covering the action from each race, the legacy that Extreme E will leave behind, and much more.
Tristan’s knowledge of sustainability within motorsport plus my experience with electric and the wider motorsport industry means we’ll be able to provide some unique insights and add to the great work Extreme E is doing to raise awareness of environmental issues.
It will go live soon so keep a look out. I will also let you know via the Weekly Debrief.
The Final Lap
Finally, if you think electric racing is new, think again.
Opinion: Electric racing is far from new
Stay safe and see you at the track!