LONDON (Reuters) - The Honda Formula One team are to replace advertising and sponsor logos on their car this season with a giant picture of the Earth to raise awareness of environmental issues.
“Formula One and the environment may not seem exactly bedfellows,” team boss Nick Fry told reporters at the unveiling of the new ‘Earth Car’ at London’s Natural History Museum on Monday.
“There will always be that last few percent of cynics but we found very strong support right across the world to do something in this direction.
“The global reach, the number of people we can talk to, is immense, so we can change minds. We are going in a more environmentally-friendly direction with the systems we put on the car and Formula One is really a laboratory for road car technology.”
The team said, through the Web site www.myearthdream.com, that anybody could have their name on the RA107 car by making a donation to an environmental charity.
“Under the concept of ‘our car is your car’, each name will form a tiny individual pixel which will help build the image of planet Earth on the car,” it said.
“Each name will be visible on the Web site when you make the pledge or under the microscope on the car.”
The livery change harks back to a time decades ago when Formula One teams raced without sponsorship on cars that were decked out in national colours. Honda said they were representing the entire world.
Fry said there would be space for at least two million names and existing sponsors, who could use the image of the car in advertising campaigns, were staying with the team.
“We’ve got nearly 40 sponsors and the very nice thing, which will be obvious, is we do not rely on selling space on the car,” he added.
“This approach, which licenses the image of the car, gives us the ability to have an infinite number of sponsors.”
Formula One’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), and the major carmakers who dominate the sport are eager to scrap gas-guzzling stereotypes and present a new environmentally-aware image.
That is no easy achievement, with even the most fuel efficient 2.4 litre V8 F1 engines burning through about 50 litres per 100km. The same engines are reduced to little more than scrap metal after about 1,400km of use.
Speaking in a museum with a fine collection of dinosaur remains, Fry said the sport had to evolve if it was to survive.
“Formula One has to change. That’s been acknowledged not only by the teams, and us, but also the FIA,” said Fry. “Otherwise we will wither on the vine.
“The technology we spend an enormous amount on in Formula One has to be relevant to road cars...road cars are going to be more environmentally friendly for obvious reasons and these things (F1 cars) have to lead the way.”