Let’s have more diversity in motorsport calendars too

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On Monday Formula 1 announced the introduction of its ‘#WeRaceAsOne’ campaign, with the cornerstones of the initiative being ‘The two major issues dominating society’s consciousness at this time, Covid-19 and inequality.”

The statement added that, “It will not be a one week or one-year theme that disappears as issues disappear from headlines, it will underpin the Formula 1 strategy to make a tangible difference in our sport and society.”

On Thursday, F1 CEO and chairman Chase Carey kick-started F1’s diversity fund by personally donating $1m to the initiative. This is doubly significant, as it not only underscores his personal commitment to diversity in F1, but the second million-dollar personal contribution he has made this year – according to solid sources he waived his salary and bonuses this year due to the ravages of Covid-19 on F1.

As an aside I can recall the CEO of F1’s previous rights holder, CVC Capital, extracting $5bn or so from the sport over a 10-year period, but cannot imagine that he personally put up a million bucks for the benefit of the sport he and his cronies milked almost to extinction, so clearly F1 is in far better hands than it was a decade ago.

The two F1 announcements follow in the slipstream of last week’s FIA e-Conference, during which two of the major talking points were sustainability and diversity, so clearly F1 and the wider motorsport communities are committed to correcting the social imbalances that so clearly exist amongst their ranks. While the initiatives are long overdue, the old saying of ‘Better late than never’ most certainly applies.

Sam Bird, Formula E, Virgin, Marrakech, 2020
Formula E’s last race was in Africa – but will it return?
So far so good, but is motorsport doing enough to correct past imbalances, or is lip-service being paid?

Last week the FIA World Motorsport Council confirmed Formula E’s 2021 calendar, saliently the electric racing series’ first as a world championship. Of 14 rounds listed, six are to be hosted by European venues – with the England hosting a double-header, as will Saudi – while the Americas are due to share three races. The remaining rounds listed are in China and South Korea, plus a ‘TBC’ in June.

Let’s be totally clear: not a single round will be contested on the entire continent of Africa or – despite the presence of Mahindra on the grid – on the Indian sub-continent. Yet the combined populations of the two regions (2.5bn) make up one-third of the world’s total population (7.5bn), yet FE does see not see fit to contest a single race in one or the other, let alone both.

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The TBC round is unlikely to be awarded to Cape Town – despite the city’s application for a round – given the peninsula’s wintry weather in June: last week it snowed amid gale force winds, while India’s monsoon season is accepted as starting at end-May, continuing to September. Morocco could well tick the Africa box, but the country has an on-off motorsport history, so don’t hold your breath.

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Buddh International Circuit, 2011
F1’s Indian Grand Prix proved short-lived
It wouldn’t be fair to single out the FIA for the lack of diversity in its calendars. The commercial rights holders of its championships contract the venues, and current FIA president Jean Todt has demonstrably pushed for equality across the full membership. Nor should Formula E be singled out, for other FIA series have clearly been equally reluctant to embrace Africa or India.

The former hosted F1 grands prix only during South Africa’s apartheid era, while India hosted F1 rounds in 2011-13 before the plug was pulled. In April the Buddh Circuit outside Delhi was used as a Covid-19 quarantine station for migrant workers, but remains usable. Africa’s only FIA world champion remains Jody Scheckter, who raced under an apartheid-era flag.

There were plans to host an F1 fan fest in South Africa in March this year as precursor to a return to Kyalami, but these were cancelled due to Covid-19. The fact, though, remains that Liberty’s priorities are a race in Miami (making it two in the USA and four in North America), second event in China and a race in Saudi Arabia – the latter being the third in the Middle East. Then comes Africa, while India does not appear to be a return target.

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Perusal of every single karting world championship venue since 1964 shows that rounds across all classes and categories were contested on every continent save Africa with a single exception – a round of the 1984 250cc class was contested in Pretoria, at the height of apartheid. Yet karting events are the sport’s nursery slopes.

Toyota Hilux, Dakar, 2019
The Dakar hasn’t been held in Dakar for a while
Rally fans point out that World Rally Championship has a confirmed 2021 round in Africa – this year’s edition having fallen prey to the pandemic – but the event last featured as a world championship round in 2002 before being dropped. Don’t laugh, but allegedly the roll-on/roll-off vessel used to ferry WRC hardware was unable to off-load in Mombasa due to docking problems, so the event was scrapped. Even the Dakar, an event named after the capital of Senegal, has now moved to Saudi Arabia.

Whatever, over the past 20 years the total of FIA world championship events hosted by Africa and India across all series – F1, WEC, WRC, FE, WRX, and WTCC – can be counted on the digits of both hands, while Europe stages more championship rounds annually than have both regions since the turn of this century, while the Middle East has hosted more grands prix since 2004 than Africa and India have in the 70-year history of F1.

The reasons for this will come as no surprise: Profits ahead of principles, dollars before diversity. Until their series feature more equitable calendars that take in all corners of the globe, the use of the term ‘world championship’ is arguably a misnomer.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 98 comments on “Let’s have more diversity in motorsport calendars too”

    1. The reasons for this will come as no surprise: Profits ahead of principles, dollars before diversity. Until their series feature more equitable calendars that take in all corners of the globe, the use of the term ‘world championship’ is arguably a misnomer.

      Indeed.

      1. Not at all. Its about WW participation, not the venue location. Ref a World Championship football is only played in a single country once every 4 years

        1. But doesn’t return to the same countries…since 1930 Europe has hosted 10 world cups and S America 4 – the entire African continent has hosted 1 and India none.

          1. There are many reasons for that, and not because of a lack of diversity. South Africa 2010 spent billions on the World Cup and their stadiums lie largely empty. Passion for football runs deep in Africa but their leagues are weak. Also, India has millions, upon millions of people living in extreme poverty. Spending billions on building world-class stadiums is a bad look for the government there. And, of course, there’s Qatar which will host the next World Cup. And Brazil, where they build one venue in the heart of the Amazon where the local club plays in the third tier. You’re just trading one set of problems, for another. Just can’t please everyone.

            Point is, going to places like USA, France, Germany, Japan, they do not have to deal with as many issues.

            1. Have you ever watched an African Champions League match in your life ? The atmosphere there is as intense as in the European stadium if not more and the football level displayed by clubs like Al Ahly, Zamalek (Egypt), Raja & Widad Casablanca (Morrocco), Esperance (Tunisia), TP Mazembé(Congo), just to name few, is respectable to say the least.
              While no African team managed to win the World Cup for clubs, two of them (TP Mazembé & Raja Casablanca) have actually reached the final and every year the African clubs show good football in the World Cup competition.

            2. African football is terrific. But that’s not what I was talking about. Few countries have the infrastructure to hold something like F1 race. Also, it’s hard to justify to voters too. Also, human rights. The South African GP was also subject to protests back in the day because of Apartheid.

            3. A big issue for african football competitions probably is that many European (and more and more other competitions as well) have “training school” things setup to get promising African players over to Europe to play there.

              And still, there is a whole continent with players that gives a very decent level of competition, despite less infrastructure or money involved, as @tifoso1989 mentions, african football isn’t bad at all.

              Off course a World Cup is a huge undertaking, a bit like the Olympics is. Both have the same issue with building hugely expensive infrastructure that only too often then lies dormant after the event. That is probably why there has been a trend to only political regimes with cash on hand that want to show PR to the world have been in the running for these events – see Russian olympics & Football WCs, Qatar, China, etc.

              But the point of diversity is that African countries have always competed, and often done really well in, football word championships.

            4. You really need to educate yourself before making sweeping statements … there’s no excuse for ignorance.

    2. This is one part of the diversity issue I disagree with.

      F1 has for years tried to bring in new destinations and this doesn’t seem overly different to that.

      New tracks have been built in countries that aren’t really interested in F1 purely because that country’s government will pay a massive fee, and after a few years we either stop racing there due to lack of ticket sales of some other destination has built a track and wants to pay more.

      1. William Jones
        28th June 2020, 0:43

        They don’t need to build new tracks, and there is a great deal of interest in motor sport in Africa, which is why they don’t need to build any new tracks.

        1. Where are these tracks on which an F1 event could be held in Africa? The discussion above has already covered views on Kyalami. where are the others?

    3. @dieterrencken

      “As an aside I can recall the CEO of F1’s previous rights holder, CVC Capital, extracting $5bn or so from the sport over a 10-year period, but cannot imagine that he personally put up a million bucks for the benefit of the sport he and his cronies milked almost to extinction,”

      Really, Dieter? In an article about fighting racism, you chose to bring in an entirely unrelated matter so you could blow that antisemitic dog-whistle again? And this time combined it with a provably false claim?

      Come on, you can do much better than this.

      1. First, I’m promoting diversity not ‘fighting’; second, there is no reference, implied or or otherwise, to anti-semitism save in your comment so, frankly, you’ve lost me on that one; thirdly, at no stage did CVC or its CEO Donald Mackenzie put up a million bucks for an F1 initiative or kept it mysteriously hush-hush if they did. You can do better than leap to assumptions.

      2. I actually chuckled at that sentence, Dave.
        Though, which part is anti-Semitic?
        Or did you want to call out the lack of logic in those words as anti-semantic.

        1. Much as I tried to chuckle with you I was unable to do so…

          1. I think @coldfly meant he was chuckling at the sentence about CVC nor Bernie having ever put their own money into somethign like this @dieterrencken.

            As for the comment by “Dave” – yeah, that really doesn’t seem to have any connection to the article.

            1. Indeed @bascb, on both parts of your reply.

    4. I think F1 has gone to a lot of places outside Europe in recent years: Malaysia, Turkey, China, Gulf, Korea, Singapore and Russia. The inevitable problem is that many of these places have questionable human rights records, so you run the risk of pleasing some people and outraging others. I’d like to see Argentina, South Africa, maybe a few others but like so many things that sound good, it’s not so simple. Right now, there seems to be nostalgia for San Marino, Portugal and Imola.

      1. I would have to review my geographic references, because last time I checked Russia was part of Europe.

        1. @luigismen Russia is part of both Europe and Asia.

        2. @luigismen as Jere notes, Russia technically spans across both Europe and Asia, with the Ural Mountains traditionally being the dividing line between what is considered to be the Asiatic and European regions of Russia. In the case of Sochi, that is part of the European region of Russia.

      2. San Marino and Imola are the same place in F1 terms, I think you mean Mugello. The reason for this ‘nostalgia’ is that F1 is prepared to pay to stage races in Europe during Corona. So every track with a pit building has leapt on the bandwagon.

        1. I disagree, at least in part. People seem to miss those competitions. Those seem to offer more guarantees than some of the newer sites. Korea was a failure. India was a failure. Etc. China, wait and see. Diversity should not be the only reason to do something, is my point. And my original point, F1 has gone to many new places and has imbraced diversity.

    5. Even the Dakar, an event named after the capital of Senegal, has now moved to Saudi Arabia.

      I don’t necessarily agree with all of this, but using the Dakar as an argument of ground lost in Africa, well, I remember a lot of complains that the Dakar was just Africa being a playground for rich people, which endangered African people and livestock, and gave little to no reward to them… Not exactly the “inclusion and diversity’ you should aim for.

      It’s a thin line anyway. F1 visits the United States, the most oppressing country in the world, racially or otherwise. They visit places with huge social inequity, where women are even forbidden from driving, or where homosexuals are illegal and even killed.

      Should that change? Sure… But F1 doesn’t set the calendar on rights or wrongs….

      1. @fer-no65

        F1 visits the United States, the most oppressing country in the world, racially or otherwise.

        I suggest that you stop consuming whatever news is telling you these lies and instead, find some information on how black people are treated in Russia, how LGBT people get prosecuted for being out of the closet (which is called ‘gay propaganda’), how the opposition is not allowed to demonstrate, how the media is controlled by the government, etc, etc.

        And that is just one of many oppressive non-Western countries.

        They visit places with huge social inequity, where women are even forbidden from driving, or where homosexuals are illegal and even killed.

        Is that what happens in the US? No? I thought you just said that the US was the most oppressive…

      2. F1 visits the United States, the most oppressing country in the world, racially or otherwise.

        I’m a black man living in the USA. That entire statement is political garbage.

      3. My understanding was that Dakar originally moved simply because it was too dangerous in the Dakar area to continue (as in, insurance for the event couldn’t be obtained). I’d argue that holding it entirely within Saudi Arabia misses the point of the event, though, which suggests profits got put first.

      4. Broccoliface
        27th June 2020, 19:41

        I thought Paris-Dakar was written off because of the swathes of Islamist activity along the route? IS affiliated groups massacred Malian and US troops in the last couple of years, right in the Maki-Niger border region P-D usually travelled. Go more east, uhoh Boko Haram, go west, disputed Saharan region between Morocco and Mauritania. That’s why it went to South America, you can’t get from Paris to Dakar without becoming a potential target.

        1. +1, It was.
          The reason the Afrika eco race does go nowadays is because the group of drivers/organisation is a lot smaller that that of the Dakar crew, so safety is ‘ easier’ to garanty.
          Dakar didn’t go to Dakar because of moslim terrorist organisations in Afrika.

    6. I suppose going back to Kyalami wouldn’t hurt.

    7. I don’t think it’s FIA’s fault that there aren’t very many Grade 1 tracks in Africa and India.

      1. You only need one per continent

        1. @dieterrencken I suppose that is true, although that is still a little challenging.

          In India, there is one circuit which is Grade 1 listed, which is Buddh, and in total it looks like there are only two FIA homologated circuits in India (Madras Motor Race Track being the other one, which is a Grade 2 circuit).

          With regards to Buddh though, there is the issue that the state of Uttar Pradesh and the Supreme Court of India have implemented tax policies that arguably make it punitively expensive to hold a race in India – was it not reported that 40% of the income from the race would have to be paid in taxes to both Uttar Pradesh and the central Indian government, and that there were plans to levy an additional “entertainment tax” that would have meant that close to half of the event fee would be swallowed up by the local and central governments? The aim to hold a race might be noble, but those current tax issues suggest it is not economically viable in the short term.

          As for Africa, currently there are no Grade 1 listed venues and two Grade 2 listed venues, which would be the Marrakech Street Circuit in Morocco and Kyalami in South Africa. Out of the two, as I understand it, Kyalami has developed plans which would allow it to be upgraded to Grade 1, but that would take time to construct. There would also be the issue that funding seems to be contingent on an F1 race being held, but that F1 is a little reluctant to commit until the circuit is upgraded.

          Maybe, in that case, an alternative might be to hold a street circuit race – however, how many cities might be willing to accept the potential disruption of an F1 race is another matter. Furthermore, at least in the case of India, there is the question of whether that would still fall foul of potential tax regulations there.

          Dieter, what would you judge to be the most realistic mechanism by which you could potentially manage to hold a race in either of those regions if somebody did want to hold one?

          1. Of course it is challenging, but who said it would be easy? Kickstarting Women in Motorsport was challenging but that didn’t stop the initiative, chasing diversity across all motorsport will be challenging, but…

            You’re also right re two circuits in each India and Africa, although Budd and Kyalami are basically race-ready subject to some upgrades which won’t cost the earth but haven’t been done as there is no need. Re Kyalami: F1 is ready to commit subject to fees, and in a soft currency country that is a problem for would-be promoters and so Liberty chases easy money – Saudi.

            Re India, I believe the proper channels re the tax situation were never pursued as it was simpler to drop the race and go to USA and return to Austria than face all the hassles.

            If F1 (or any other FIA championship seeing we’re mainly focussing on F1) truly subscribes to diversity it could cut joint ventures in emerging regions and reap the profits later. F1 is racing for free in Brazil (albeit for a different reason) so why not subsidise (or cut fees to the bone) where necessary? But that would mean placing diversity ahead of dollars, which is my contention.

            1. @Dieter

              You are in a cut throat business. Surely you must understand that there is a limit to how much you can subsidize money losing ventures before you have to start cutting the quality of the product.

              Money is not something that grows on trees, but that people have had to sacrifice for to earn. They want something for their money.

              I respect that people with your politics consider it really important to not have enclaves where certain groups are underrepresented, have a belief that this under-representation is solely or primarily due to to discrimination and want huge sacrifices to be made to change this (at the expense of other things). I think that you ignore all kinds of evidence and care about the wrong things (representation rather than whether people have opportunity and are happy), but I’m sure that you feel similar about people like me.

              In a functioning and respectful democracy, you get to vote for what you want and I for what I want & the result is hopefully a compromise law. In a functioning and respectful capitalist system, you get to spend your money on (specifically) subsidizing women and people of color (directly or by being willing to pay more to companies that do that), while I can choose not to do so. So you get a diverse economy that caters to people with different preferences, to the extent to which they put their money where their mouth is.

              However, it is typical for people to fight for disproportionate power, so they get to oppress others into doing things that they themselves want, but that others reject. A major reason for the push back, is that many people believe that people with your ideology are constantly doing this, forcing them to pay for things they don’t want to pay for, to say things they don’t want to say and not say things they want to say, to cleanse the media from ‘wrongthink’, to have people with an ideology that is shared by a minority of the population dominate academia, etc, etc.

              As long as you try to make people pay for things that they don’t want to pay for, you can expect push back (or simply for people to not cooperate if they can). Because of the oppressive tactics that are often employed, many people will resist quietly.

              Ultimately, your demand that “F1 […] truly subscribes to diversity” and the very specific way in which you interpret that sentence (and want F1 to interpret it), is intolerant to those with different beliefs or interpretations.

            2. How do I like this comment?
              Diversity is the buzz word at the moment. It’s such a shame it’s focused on superficial and inherited attributes like race and gender instead of attributes earned like ideas and character.

            3. Broccoliface
              27th June 2020, 19:48

              What future profits? Most of the shoehorned races into new ground failed miserably with flagging attendances and meddling governments. If some of Africa’s rampant embezzled money can make its way into the funding of a track it’d be fun to go to somewhere like Nigeria or Angola, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on it being around after 5-10 years, and you can’t criticise a business for coming to the same conclusion when we’re talking 8-figures of cost.

            4. So how does giving some countries a free race fit in with the teams not being given a fair share of income in this “sport” that must be the highest form of capitalism entertainment? Is it fair and representative that it costs more for a family of 4 to go to Silverstone GP race day than on holiday for a week?

              Should the lessons of Soweto Soccer City not be learned? Or those crumbling stadia in Japan? I’m sure everyone still waiting for a bricks and mortar house in Gugulethu or Mitchell’s Plain would be delighted for 1 day for Cape Town to host a GP (as per Sao Paulo), but it will quickly wear off. It might be “free”, but what about the infrastructure, security costs etc. Is the F1 group going to contribute to those costs in the way that football teams contribute for policing? (England Police spend £48m, clubs pay £5m).

              How does the Indian Govt’s desire to tax an event differ from local hoteliers, say, gouging spectators?

              I applaud you promoting diversity, but don’t understand how you can also find socialism “abhorrent”.

            5. The real question though is whether Africa and India need F1 as much as the FIA needs more calendar diversity.

              A race in South Africa will run into the R1billion bracket if the race fee stays the same. Even if F1 bring a sponsor to the event, that will still leave the promoter needing to sell 100 thousand tickets at between R5k – R10k, and there just isn’t that sort of appetite … even with international visitors.

              Plus, last time there was a GP at Kyalami, the motor industry businesses opted to spend their budget on corporate VIP hospitality and cut all sponsorship & support to the local racing community.

              If there’s a race, it needs to leave the host and motorsport in the host country better off, not poorer … and F1 cannot do that while still meeting their commercial commitments to teams and Liberty.

          2. @anon the other thing I’ll add is that in common with most posters to this thread you seem to believe that FIA is all about F1 and nothing else. I have NOT pushed for Africa or India particularly to have a Grand Prix and only a Grand Prix, but for better representation across all categories including FE, WRC, WEC and WRX.

            1. @dieterrencken my point about the limited number of available FIA homologated circuits in India is still an issue on a wider scale, as that acts as a constraint on being able to host international races and also on establishing national motorsport series, not just F1. For example, given the performance of the prototype class of the WEC, I am not sure if the Madras circuit would be homologated for use by the WEC, potentially restricting them to just Buddh.

              Furthermore, how extensive is the wider infrastructure that would be required to support a motorsport industry in India right now? What are the capabilities of the motorsport industry in India right now to be able to support international series such as Formula E, the WEC or WTCR, to name just a few?

              Is it possible to marshal both the economic support and political support that would be necessary to make those events viable and to then sustain those events over an extended period of time, assuming that you want those events to become sustainable over the longer term?

              Whilst there is the criticism for international series not holding events in India, on the opposite site of the coin there is the question of whether the regional and national governments in India are prepared to provide the necessary support to be facilitate those races, both in the short term and in the longer term as well. Would those local authorities also be prepared to invest in a race as well, or is there the risk that they might just try to use it as an opportunity for a short term cash grab, as seemed to happen with Buddh? Is there that reciprocal will on the side of the Indian authorities to make such a race work?

              For African circuits, there are more options and it is fair to note that there are actually more international events there. The World Touring Car Championship and the replacement World Touring Car Cup form – as an aside, strictly speaking I think you should be using the acronym WTCR for the World Touring Car Cup, as the WTCC rules were withdrawn in 2017 and that series now follows the Touring Car Regulations (TCR) – has been using Morocco since 2009, and Formula E has been using it since 2016.

              The WRX has also been using the Killarney circuit since 2017, whilst Kyalami currently hosts the Intercontinental GT series and is currently scheduled to be added to the WEC 2020-2021 season – or at least it was until the covid-19 outbreak started.

              If, by 2021, we do approach something that is more normal, or at least less abnormal than what we experience now, then Africa should see WRX, WTCR, Formula E, WRC and WEC events – meaning that it would actually be represented in most major FIA sponsored racing series.

            2. @dieterrencken

              Africa is enormously underrepresented in bicycle racing, because lots of roads are bad and because (racing) bikes are not very affordable to most Africans. Yet car racing costs are way higher than bicycle racing costs. So how realistic is it to get serious car racing in Africa, when even serious bicycle racing is not doing well?

      2. this whole “Grade 1” thing is totally ridiculous. So many new races are approved to be held on street circuits that have obviously far less safety or space features than any decent permanent road circuit. I mean look at Monaco being Grade 1 and Circuit De La Sarthe is Grade 2. Obviously, money in the right pockets and politics can magically transform any circuit into a Grade 1 with minimal construction effort.

    8. Whilst true I think this is somewhat an unfair criticism. F1 is global taking in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. There are 19 rounds, each in a different country across 5 of the world’s 7 continents. How is that not diverse?Is it somehow less diverse to race in China and Azerbaijan or Brazil and Belgium than to replace one of those races with one in Africa? F1 is a business (as are other formula) not a charity and it needs to make money; we have seen during Covid-19 how precarious those finances are – especially for the participating teams. They rely on big crowds and big payments from circuit owners and broadcast rights holders for income – the simple fact is that the will in countries in Africa is not there to pay for this. Nor was it there in India. The only colour that matters is green and I don’t think where races are hosted is part of the diversity issue. The further issue that F1 faces is that many of the teams (not just the drivers) are made up of predominantly white males. I don’t think this is surprising really given where the teams are based and the lack of women and BME backgrounds entering race engineering and so on. This is why simply racing at a token track in Africa will not add anything to the diversity in formula 1 but other initiatives (such as the Hamilton Commission if it is successful in it’s aims) make a lot more sense and have the potential to change things long term. A race in Kyalami won’t.

      1. and the proposed “‘Ross Ice Shelf’ Gran Prix'” … continent numero 7

    9. Globalization does not allow for a truly global calendar. To force it, it will most certainly mean tax payers are funding the event.

      1. @peartree Or that discounting is applied by the series commercial organiser. Which it already does for some races.

        1. Or a joint venture as I propose below

        2. @alianora-la-canta because of the crisis f1 seems to be forced to fund races, this situation is not the norm. I don’t see f1 subjecting to this practice for much longer.

          1. @peartree Even before this, the likes of Canada, Brazil, Monaco and the UK got discounts on the general rate (for 4 different reasons – respectively, inability to pair with another flyaway, Bernie playing a “prank” on Liberty, historic “jewel in the crown” status and incentive to commit to the long term).

            1. @alianora-la-canta I didn’t want to say it, but these discounts you have mentioned are not free. Histrionics aside, there’s a lot of shady business going on here. There’s one number on the contract and another in panama. You are right but I don’t see them going out of their way to fund an african race.

            2. @peartree Maybe not. However, the discounts present prove they could let an African race have a discount if they chose for that to happen.

              Although I would concede that there would need to be an African circuit promoter willing to comply with Liberty’s wishes concerning the price, and if these don’t match, there’s a limit as to how much discounting Liberty would be willing to apply – even if it decided discounting was an appropriate option given its strategy.

    10. I would like to see Kyalami and Buddh on the calendar again (at the cost of Baku, Russia, Monaco or Abu Dhabi). But I don’t think co-opting the F1 calendar into the current diversity debate is…eh.. particularly necessary.

      1. Given that Monaco doesnt pay hosting fees, there is more than enough motivation to drop it for good.

      2. Yep. And I’d like to see Turkey back, a pretty good track. Of course, not too many spectators……..

    11. You mean diversity like, let’s have: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, S. Arabia, Oman, Jordan, a few of the United Arab Emirates…? Why not, that’s what’s happening anyway. In fact, we need more European races because there people care the most and where’s most of F1’s history and tradition (should count for something even in this modern world), and of course Africa’s got not a single race, which is just wrong (and I speak of Sub-Saharan Africa of course), although safety must be provided of course; equal rights don’t mean that the situation itself is equally stable everywhere in the world.

    12. Fixing motorsports diversity will be challenging and take some time, something that will surely frustrate an ADD generation that is used to next day Amazon Prime deliveries.

      1. @khurtwilliams As a member of the generation you are accusing with that disablist comment… we’re used to organisations making an actual effort, and while the Amazon Prime thing suggests that we also have weak spots in our advocacy, we’re also used to finding alternatives to organisations which don’t. This is part of the reason the situation has become pressing.

    13. The F1 Calendar is very diverse and dare I say it’s way more diverse than it was 20 years ago.

      In the year 2000 there was no races in the middle east, only two in asia (Malaysia only being added the year before) three in the Americas and one in Australia.

      that’s only 6 out of 17 races not in Europe

      In 2019 there were 10 out of 21 races not in Europe (11 if you include Russia as it’s not a traditional European GP country)

      In this 20 year period there have been attempts to bring F1 to places like Turkey and India but for different reasons, it just didn’t stick.

      It takes time for different nations to fall in love with motorsport. Yes, there’s not much motorsport in Africa, but I guess they have other interests, and F1 is quite an expensive sport to invite to your country, which is not ideal for all African nations. (but that’s not necessarily going to be the case for ever).

      1. @napierrailton please stop making sense, media does not want reasonable people such as yourself to have a voice. Bernie did nothing to expand f1 worldwide, into Hungary all those years ago, then asia/middle-east, he is a racist, even though he is married to a brazillian woman.

    14. India had one, it appears they didn’t want it with their outlandish taxes. Next?

    15. F1 is not like a football game. You could easily do a Barcelona – Real Madrid in the middle of a village in Africa.
      F1 is not like that. The infrastructure required for F1 is very expensive, you can only do that in countries that:
      – have a strong passion for the sport and fill the stands and make the event profitable
      – the government is able to pay for it.

      In Africa none of this applies, except maybe in South Africa.
      But an hypothetical race in South Africa would have very few ethnic diversity in the crowds, because motorsport is still a white people sport there*

      *someone from South Africa can confirm if this is still true or not, I now Trevor Noah is a huge F1 fan, but I think he is an exception

      1. I was born in South Africa, spent almost 40 years of my life there, held an international motorsport licence there, return once per year during which period I make of a point of meeting SA motorsport figures on every visit, am in weekly contact with figures from across the continent, lived in two other African states apart from SA – and founded a motorsport club in one of them – plus had sight of motorsport TV ratings through my TV gigs.

        Thus I speak with no little understanding of the situation when I assure you there is massive interest in motorsport across Africa, and hugely so in SA. The number of supercars sold by the likes of Porsche, Ferrari Lamborghini etc in SA attest to that – even if the source of funds is sometimes suspect…

        What is missing is funding and actual exposure to top line motorsport, which has turned it into a TV only sport for most. The mere fact that F1, FE, WRC are broadcast surely indicates interest.

        I attended the SRO 9 Hr Race at Kyalami last year and was not surprised to note that the attendance split was roughly 50/50 Black/White. True the national split is about 65/35 but the attendance figure is a massive improvement on apartheid times when only Whites could express interest.

        1. I really like seeing you bring up this subject @dieterrencken. I think it might just be the right time for this to catch more attention.

          With all the millions in Africa, and all the interesting business opportunities that have arisen all over the continent in recent years, I am sure there is a huge potential for motorsport there.

          There is an affluent and creative middle class to tap into. There is huge enthusiasm to be had as well. As you mention, there are enough sportscars out there to fill quite a bit of competitions too.

    16. I have a hard time not reading this article as: ‘let them eat cake.’

      The way things work is that if a society wants to spend money, they need to earn money. The only reason why there is so much car racing in the West in the first place, is that we have a strong economy, so we can afford to do fun nonsense like having very expensive cars drive loops on a very expensive circuit. We can also afford other things like relatively generous welfare, good healthcare, nice houses, good transportation, good infrastructure, etc.

      The African region has very weak economies (and huge inequality). The lack of super-expensive car racing in Africa is really not a big issue in the grand scheme of things. Merely running F1 races in Africa without an overall improvement in their economy and thus overall standard of living, is like building a stadium in a slum and having the Champion’s league final be played there. If anything, it is rubbing our wealth in the face of poor people and thus incredibly rude and insensitive. We are just showing them what they can’t have.

      Charity is at best a minor factor in boosting second and third world economies. In the last decades, we’ve seen huge economic growth in Asia (particularly China and India), but not because of Western charity, but because of reforms in those countries that made them economically competitive. At the same time, we’ve seen countries like Russia, that refuse to reform and are governed by crooks, stagnate. That Russia has a Formula 1 race is probably more of a detriment than a help. It benefits a small Russian elite who spends their oil dollars on things that entertain them, rather than on bettering the lives of non-elite Russians and/or building up a non-oil economy.

      There is a very thin line between helping the disadvantaged and ‘white man’s burden’ paternalism. There is also a thin line between actually helping people and buying off feelings of guilt over the luck you’ve had. Feeling guilty that we have many F1 races and racers, but that Africa has none, is not a good basis for policies that allow Africa to eventually afford F1 races and racers, as part of an overall strong economy and high quality of living. And a large part of those policies have to come from within & are not things that we can or should try to force countries into doing.

      1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        27th June 2020, 16:47

        What a great read and I agree with you 100% on everything you stated. It seems to me every sport, Hollywood celebrity, news station and politician except for communist countries are “jumping on the bandwagon” and trying to score points with tweets about actually caring about equal rights. It’s the flavour of the month type stuff and it will run it’s course. If F1 had been this serious about racism say…. 2 months ago, I could take them seriously. But all they’re doing is jumping on the “BLM” train like everyone else.

      2. @aapje I’ve been greatly entertained by your contributions in this debate, so please take this as a minor correction to your criticisms of Russia, and presumably by association Putin. It’s no surprise that someone might be perplexed at how popular he is with his electorate given the coverage by the media in the rest of the developed world, but it’s really, really simple. They are much better off than any of them have been in their lives before, see

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Average_per_capita_income_in_Russia,_1995-2015.png and

        https://tradingeconomics.com/russia/inflation-cpi

    17. Saudi is an adjective, not a noun.

    18. When it comes to Grand Prix racing, South Africa with its considerable, racing tradition will always be a logical/default choice. But as was outlined above, that tradition never was about diversity and inclusion…at all. It was a very white sport at the southern tip of the black continent…and I am not sure if it would be much different today? If I were to make the boldest of predictions, I would say that during this decade, we will see Formula 1 race in Nigeria…remember where you’ve heard it first!

      1. That’s quite a logical prediction and I wouldn’t mind at all, if there will be true interest and logical economic demand from the Nigerian and surrounding fans. Knowing the sporting structures in this part of the world, though, I would worry about the ability of the Nigerian Grand Prix to last.

        1. I am thinking more about the fact that this is a huge country that seems to be moving in a direction where it will soon crave more international recognition…sort of like Malaysia or India in the past. Which would put local fan interest and long term prospect very much in question…I agree with that.

    19. Touché, but at least the calendar has a nice diversity of democratic and undemocratic countries and since there’s no complaint about that, I guess that’s well covered.

    20. Which African economy can support an FIA Grade 1 location? Maybe South Africa, where cape town has actually run out of

      Isn’t it utterly elitist to spend money on a F1 racetrack when 1/4 to 1/5th of the continent is dying of starvation?

      To me this article hits the level of “Spijkers op laag water zoeken”.

    21. F1 should be where the fans are. Even Poland would be a better venue than any African country which would be awarder the Grand Prix for political reasons, it would be flooded with the fans from all over the Central Europe. And what a difference it would be compared to the sterile venues like Buddh, Shangai, Istanbul or any exclusive Middle Eastern race. You simply need the right demographics and economic power to sustain the Grand Prix.

    22. South America is the only place I know where the general populous has common knowledge of F1 like Europeans do. One quick thought that comes to mind is that I dont see billboards of Vettel selling Shell gasoline in the United States, but I have seen that in Lima Peru (as well as other F1 related things in adverts). And, there is plenty of empty space near Lima to build a circuit, and it never rains.

      If F1 wants to develop an engaged fanbase in countries with low GDP, then they need to make the investment themselves. But they wont because their modus operandum is to gouge local governments out of billions for a quick buck and not developing a cultural awareness.

    23. I very much disagree with all of this. These developing nations need to spend their money into making the infrastructure in the countries better. They need better schools, clean drinking water and better working conditions. Spending that same money into massive scale sport events where most of the money leaves the country in the pockets of local and foreign millionaires and billionaires is not just incredible naive virtue signalling but also downright cold or heartless towards the actual people that live there. I think it is also wrong to fix the diversity issue by bringing our sports into these countries. If we really care about diversity we look at what they are doing and watch that instead. Shows us their culture instead of trying to sell ours to them at exorbitant costs

      1. Building a track for karting, for motorracing, laying out a rallye track or even to build an F1 track is not going to ruin any place as such. More over it can be part of a development with other infrastructure and to attrack business to an area @socksolid.

        The biggest thing would be the hosting fees that a Liberty, Formula E, WRC, MotoGP etc request. That would be part of the idea to find a solution, dropping those fees to help develop motorsport in a region.

    24. Eduardo Stark
      27th June 2020, 20:55

      @dieterrencken Hi Dieter, interesting but delicate subject you’ve raised here. It’s true that for a world championship, it’s a shame that the likes Africa or India missed out.

      It’s clear for me that financial prospect of any F1 or any kind of top level motorsport there would be dire. But I think there’s many way we can work on.

      For example, we will have ground breaking cost cap in F1. But the prize money share is still up for discussion if I’m not wrong. So if they can get a common ground – which may be unlikely – to, let’s say, save a slice of it for holding these kind of races that will be wonderful.

      Or say, that astronomical fees that Russia, Abu Dhabi, and Azerbaijan pay annually can cover one or two more races.

      We can get Buddh, Kyalami, or any other great tracks without govt support (i.e. Nurburgring) held with Liberty as the promoter in rotation. This way, no local promoter with taxpayer money would be needed.

      The flip side of it, the commercial burden will be increased on Liberty, thus they’ll continue to push on more on and more races in a single season. I’d think it will be inevitable to reach 25 races. If subsidized race exist, they might even want more. So all in all, it’s difficult to get a proper solution

    25. It’s not like black people don’t like cars, they don’t have the means to go racing. Everybody loves speed! White, black, green, purple, whatever :)
      I’m sure Lewis can open lots of doors in Africa! But it’s up to Liberty to use him. He and Tiger Woods are hugely respected by Africans for being the best in all white sports.

      Racing needs to become much more affordable ASAP! Sim racing is a great first step, but there needs to be changes and lots of promotion for karting – there must be big, big changes in karting… the FIA should be also more proactive in helping local ASNs with know-how, the same applies for Liberty/F1. Local ASNs should be helped and taught in organizing & promoting racing.
      Also sim racing should be used to promote motorsport amongst those w/o the means to go racing. It should be a proper stepping stone on the ladder to F1, organized, funded etc.
      May be the FIA should even work together with FOM in the developing world since motorcycle racing is more affordable.
      If they want F1 to be growing, FIA and Liberty should work together in promoting motorsport as a whole!!!

      India on the other hand is a whole strange separate issue. Racing has been growing in India, but the government is crazy… it’s a political issue. The circuit is amazing and it’s a big, big shame that customs law is effectively preventing international racing. I’m sure AsLMS would love to race, same for GTWC Asia or WRX… If you look at the entry list of AsLMS it’s clear that if India becomes activated, AsLMS will become very, very competitive.

      1. Exactly. Those are great ideas that would work.

    26. @dieterrencken
      I’m sorry to disagree, but I think your drive towards ‘diversity’ is pointless..
      Let’s pretend that a relatively prosperous African country – such as Kenya – applied for and built a grade 1 circuit either as a road course or dedicated track, and now launch promotions for the Kenya Grand Prix begin. Remember, the track operators (or the government) would have paid squillions to host the race.
      What would happen next?
      European and Asian (possibly US, too) tour operators would launch African GP tour packages to the race. Thousands of people would pay thousands of Kenyan Shillings for a seat in the stands in a country where the average wage is 7,000 Shillings per month (less than $US 80).
      Overseas visitors would come, but the local population would be priced out and subsequently view motorsport as a ‘foreigner thing’.
      Please allow motorsport (with ICE engines) to decline and die gracefully. Any attempts to transplant it to Africa will be expensive and pointless.

      1. Clearly you (and most other critical) posters have not bothered to read the article before commenting: at NO stage have I pushed for F1 races all over Africa, I called for more diversity across all FIA categories, pointing out that Africa this year would have two FIA world championship events and India none – and Europe about 30 if F1 FE WEC WRC and WRX are counted. Who said a word about a GP on Kenya?

        1. It’s not a good tactic to be hyper defensive and condescending with your readers when they disagree with you. Your articles are usually well received; this one hasn’t been by many readers and maybe you need to consider why rather than assuming the article hasn’t been read or read properly. I don’t often post but check this site daily and appreciate the content, however replies to comments that insult and condescend your readers will drive me, and I expect others, to get our racing news and opinion fix elsewhere.

          1. It also is not a great way to try and argue if your comment completely ignores what is written above “aezy_doc”. Because Dieter explicitly wrote about MOTORSPORT as it is the terrain of the FIA should do more to invite and develop in more diverse regions.

            A bit sad if you then come and comment on a perceived tone of the comment. Instead of using the opportunity to communicate over the idea brought up with the person who wrote it and comes from a background with quite a decent amount of knowledge about the subject at hand.

            1. I don’t mind you thinking that but in my defence I haven’t ignored a thing. I read the entire article and decided to write a comment on a single aspect of an article. I took Dieter’s apparent dig as aimed at me and others who have simply disagreed with him. In a comment I don’t have to write my own article addressing every aspect of that original article although I take the point about the article being about more than just F1. However, it was not long ago that this site was called F1 fanatic and the majority of articles posted on here are about F1 and even this one is hooked around F1s ‘we race as one’ initiative. Additionally, the first 3 paragraphs are exclusively about F1, it comes back to F1 in the middle and pretty much returning to it at the end. It’s no surprise that responses to an article framed around F1 on a website that almost exclusively focuses on F1 are then themselves framed around F1.

    27. Jonathan Davies
      28th June 2020, 0:01

      Really not great article suddenly reversing your position about wanting better racing and better tracks. Pushing out a poorly proofed article just to try cash in on the current atmosphere is a bit desperate.

      Please please please get rid of this clown.

    28. Very poor article. The calendar is plenty diverse as it is. They have tried to go to places like India in recent history, but unless there is a culture of motor sport in these countries to support a race, they fail! So what is the point for these countries to spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on circuit design, construction or modification if they do not have the attendees to support the event? You need to invest money in homegrown motor sport first. Local tracks that kids and adults can race at that help develop the culture of motor sport over many years. Then they could perhaps support an F1 race after many years.

      Saying Morocco (Randomly chosen country) should host an F1 race is like me saying that I will be signed by an F1 team for 2021. I might not have any motor sport experience outside of some karting as a child, but no matter, I should be allowed to compete at the very highest level because reasons. No. Develop motor sport culture in the country, then get lower level categories going, regional/continental competitions and once those are self sufficient, then the big ones like F1 can come in. To do anything else is wasting what money many of these countries have.

      1. @trido – the point Dieter makes in his article is precisely what you mention is missing: DEVELOPING a motorsport culture in more various regions, be it WRC, dirt racing, karting, etc, etc. And maybe F1 too.

        This is not about plunking an F1 race into India or into SA. This is about a call to the FIA, who regulate motorsports, to try and promote the sport more all over the world so that these regions can enjoy motorsport more, and to promote people from more regions growing up with motorsport. So that over time, it builds a more solid base for motorsports world wide.

        Some of these motorsport things can be done for relatively low money. You need karts, or cars and a place to go racing. A Karting track really doesn’t cost that much money. And laying out a rallye course is also something that can be relatively easily done. And making a few club tracks for sportscar races and racing there is also not something that will be a huge leap either.

    29. As many have pointed out there is no point in having races in countries without a motor sport heritage if the economics of staging these is not going to be sustainable.

      By all means consider reviving races in South Africa or Argentina for example, because these countries do have this history. The rest of Africa though I am really not so sure about. India is a curious one. It is a democracy.

      I would much rather F1 was keen on promoting races in countries that support democracy rather than chasing the money in more Middle Eastern states or China. In an ideal world I would not have races in Russia, China, the Gulf states, etc. I think a race in Saudi Arabia is an awful idea and I will be horrified if they do this.

    30. F1 has always visited many countries since the very beginning of the championship. In the last years we have seen races held in malaysia, china, india, russia, azerbaijan, mexico, bahrain, korea and now vietnam… where is this urging need for other “diverse” venues? africa has had little to no relevance in top motorsport for obvious reasons, should they organize a south african gp just to show how good and diverse f1 is? and what would that add to f1 and to south africa? places like korea and india show that it’s pointless to set up a gp without a grander scheme to develop motorsport in the country, in fact those races where abandoned after just a couple years due to high costs and no attendence.

      what is the issue if f1 was born in europe and has the most followers there? i think most here would agree that more european rounds are needed and not the opposite!

    31. Mark Boudreau (@motorsportprospects)
      28th June 2020, 15:33

      Personally I think the focus should be on developing a solid grassroots motorsport presence in a lot of places underserved first and then think of having a race of some sort after. The FIA have all kinds of development activities but it seems like there is zero visibility with them. Sure creating a development program in some place like Angola or Tanzania is not as sexy as a Grand Prix but it would help develop the sport and possibly develop drivers that could compete up the pyramid. That would do more for diversity in the sport than a possible one off grand prix.

    32. Considering that motor sports are a completely useless activity I’m baffled by the triggering it’s doing these days to so many delicate egos.

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