Formula One Bans Military Aircraft Flyovers To Reduce Carbon Emissions

GP Flyover
The Frecce Tricolori carry out the Imola GP airshow in 2021 (Image credit: Italian Air Force)

We won’t see the Frecce Tricolori or Red Arrows flying over the tracks during pre-race displays because they pollute the air.

Beginning in 2022, the Grand Prix organisers will no longer be able to use military aircraft for air displays before the start of the races because they pollute and they are no longer in line with the CO2 emissions reduction objectives of F1 which aims to eliminate the environmental impact by 2030. As reported by the Corriere della Sera on Jan. 19, 2022, local organizers of Gran Prix races all around the world were informed of the ban.

While military aircraft will not be able to take part in GP opening flyovers to support the sustainability goals of F1 organizers, civilian wide-bodies, that have often taken part in pre-race displays in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, as well as some historical aircraft remain permitted, under certain (yet unclear) conditions. For this reason, some believe the cause for the ban might not be related to environmental concerns but prompted by the will of F1 to avoid that the airshows can be considered as “shows of force” and exploited by some countries to flex muscle and fuel propaganda.

As a consequence of the ban, the flyover of the Italian and British Grand Prixs will not take place. In Italy, the flyovers at Imola and Monza (Apr. 24 and Sept. 11) are traditionally carried out by the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian Air Force aerobatic display team. In the past, other Italian Air Force aircraft including the Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon have carried out the flyovers of both Formula 1 and MotoGP races: as we already reported back then, on Sept. 13, 2020, four Eurofighter Typhoon jets, two belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing), based at Grosseto Air Base, and two belonging to the 36° Stormo, from Gioia del Colle, flew over the starting grid of the Grand Prix at the Ferrari-owned track in Mugello, near Florence, in central Italy, to celebrate the 1000th Formula 1 race of the Ferrari racing team.

The Frecce Tricolori perform the Imola GP flyover in 1980 (with the G-91). (Image credit: Italian Air Force)

In the UK, the Red Arrows performed at Silverstone ahead of the British Grand Prix. In the US the 2021 Formula 1 US Grand Prix flyover at Circuit of the Americas was opened by a formation of Dutch helicopters based at Fort Hood (Texas), including AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinooks: with the new ban such flight would not be allowed. It’s a pity, considered that in some cases, such flyovers were the most exciting part of the race….

Anyway, the ban of the flyovers is not the only measure put in place to reduce the environmental impact of F1 races: this season a new petrol with 10% ethanol of natural origin will be introduced while in recent years campaigns have been launched to eliminate plastic and reduce waste.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.