McLaren calls for F1 cost cap changes to help teams’ sustainability

·4 min read

McLaren has called upon the FIA and Formula 1 to work together to change regulations so that teams don’t have to choose between sustainability initiatives and performance under the cost cap.

Publishing its annual sustainability report that shows McLaren Racing has achieved a 22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to its 2019 baseline, reduced its air freight emissions by 9% over the past two years and its total waste by 19% — with zero sent to landfill — a key point raised is the challenge provided by F1’s current financial regulations.

The report highlights the fact that “costs incurred for sustainability initiatives sit within the cost cap unless they are directly attributable to an existing exclusion.” After the FIA established a working group to look into the issue ahead of the 2026 regulations, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says the industry needs to work together more effectively.

“We strongly believe in the cost cap and wouldn’t want to see anything that undermines its integrity, but current regulations have created some unintended barriers when it comes to investing in sustainability,” Brown said. “It’s been fantastic to see so much support from F1 and other teams on this issue, and we’re delighted that the FIA has established a working group to explore next steps.

“But to unlock our sport’s potential to drive the development of more sustainable technologies that can spark positive changes on a global scale, we need a genuine step change. That requires a level playing field so teams can work towards achieving the same targets and no longer need to choose between investing in car performance and investing in sustainability.

“Our sport needs a clear regulatory framework with financial, technical and sporting regulations that better enable us all to innovate and invest in sustainability. We need to find better ways to share expertise and insights across our industry. Only true collaboration will help us drive meaningful change. And if we want to achieve a step change with the new set of 2026 regulations, then those decisions need to be made now.”

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As part of the report, McLaren called for a number of changes it wants to see implemented, including:

• A set of comprehensive cost cap exclusions that support investment in sustainability projects and initiatives, without compromising the integrity of the cost cap. This should include:

  1. Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and training

  2. Team wellbeing initiatives

  3. Costs for intern and apprentice programs to help provide pathways into motorsport and STEM careers

• Technical regulations which actively encourage the adoption of more sustainable materials and processes to support the research and development of a fully circular F1 car.

• The introduction of clear sustainability criteria into the Concorde Agreement to cover core requirements for race calendars, the paddock and motorhomes.

• Clear requirements for promoters and competition organizers to meet certain sustainability standards.

McLaren’s director of sustainability Kim Wilson adds that the team is well placed to share knowledge about best practices across multiple categories.

“Our mission to ‘set the standard for performance in sport’ applies to sustainability as much as it applies to our on-track performance,” Wilson said. “And as the only racing team to participate in F1, IndyCar, Formula E and Extreme E as well as eSports we have a unique opportunity to foster innovation and cross-learning across our sport to accelerate the changes needed to positively address our economic, environmental and social impacts.

“While as a team, we can point to significant progress in delivering operational improvements across our four sustainability pillars last year, I hope that we are demonstrating through our actions that we are willing to experiment and share our learnings with other teams, our regulators and stakeholders. It is now time for accelerated action and industry-wide collaboration that drives meaningful change in the next few years.”

Story originally appeared on Racer