Formula 1 bans military flyovers, but not in the UK

Image for article titled Formula 1 bans military flyovers but not in the UK

photo: Lars Baron/Pool/AFP (Getty Images)

This week, Formula 1 informed race organizers via email that military flyovers are no longer allowed to take place on Grand Prix weekends. But there seems to be an exception that still allows overflights of some kind.

According to, Formula 1 is enacting the ban as part of its effort to become carbon neutral. However, the ban only applies to military aircraft in absolute terms. Commercial and civilian aircraft can continue to have demonstrations of F1 racing as long as the flights use sustainable fuels, an option F1 has not made available for military overflights.

Silverstone was the first F1 venue state publicly that it has been received a liberation. In a statement, the historic Brit circuit explained:

“The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, are not classified as military aviation and as such do not fall into the category of displays no longer permitted at Formula 1 events. We look forward to welcoming them back to Silverstone on July 3rd.”

There were also concerns within Formula 1 that aerial displays would provide a platform for countries to showcase their military prowess on the international stage. This is an understandable point of view but it obviously contradicts the Red Arrows’ exception to continue appearing at the British Grand Prix.

While the Red Arrows conduct demonstrations using BAE Hawk T1s, a jet-powered trainer, it seems odd that the Red Arrows weren’t categorized as military aviation. The team remains fully integrated into the Royal Air Force command structure. The Red Arrows are commanded by an RAF officer and only recruit experienced RAF pilots. The Red Arrows have nothing civilian or commercial. The unit is literally called the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.

The sustained commercial exemption also includes an authorization for Abu Dhabi and Bahrain’s state airlines (Gulf Air and Etihad, respectively) to continue flying massive aircraft over the start/finish stretch of their state run home race. This appears to be a move by Formula 1 to prevent displays that rights holders are uncomfortable with, while also creating a massive loophole for the championship’s biggest supporters under the guise of sustainability. F1 wants its cake and want to ban it too.

Comments are closed.