Mr Lewis Hamilton, please grow up, F-1 needs India and Vietnam to survive

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 15, 2018, 12.48 PM (IST) Rustam Roy

The lucrative Formula-1 circuit is defined by only one thing: Money, Money and More Money. It is the nature of sport which attracts the finest cars, engineers, drivers and backroom staff including maintenance of tracks worldwide which need billions of investment annually.

This year the new owner Liberty Media revealed F-1 revenues had dipped one per cent to £13 million as several sponsors had pulled out. 

The failure to sign-up new races and new deals was sighted by Liberty as the reason for the losses. As a result prize money too dropped by 5.9 per cent which was bad news for Ferrari and Hamilton's team Mercedes which could not pick up fat pay cheques.

After the losses were announced, Liberty said it was contemplating a cap on budgets and bonuses as F-1 continues to be a white elephant no one really wants to own. Ferrari threatened to walk out of F-1 if budgetary limits were made official.

The big three - Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull have been winning by ruthlessly outspending rivals leaving teams placed in the middle to pick up the scrap.

F-1 has been living on borrowed time for over a decade. Former F-1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had sold Formula One to the US company Liberty Media for $4.4 billion two years ago. Ecclestone had turned the largely amateur sport into a multi-billion dollar entity during his reign in the forty years he ruled the F-1 landscape. 

The one-man show, however, had to end someday, in the end, Bernie had to exit the new board led by Liberty choosing to say goodbye to his favourite child.

It has been Formula One's stated goal to take the sport to new countries in order to build a new base and attract new sponsors.

However, the current champion British driver Lewis Hamilton certainly does not think it is a good idea to expand, he lamented that India being a poor country shouldn't have hosted the race, nor should Vietnam be allowed.

Instead, the champion driver said races in England,  Germany, Italy should continue to hold sway as they have a "racing tradition".

"It’s incredible how Formula One has grown in India, especially as cricket is such a big sport there. They are still massively into racing, we get a really big crowd of enthusiastic fans. It's a cool place to go; the people are very welcoming and look after us really well. I've enjoyed it every time I have been," Hamilton said in 2011.
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Hamilton's outlook is quite contrary to what he said in his own website in 2011 when India hosted the F-1 race for the first time when he said India was a "cool place with enthusiastic fans".

Despite F-1 under Liberty Media determined to scout for new countries in a bid to keep the cash registers ticking over, Hamilton's view on India and Vietnam as having no tradition is quite surprising and dangerous for the sport. 

Hamilton should be aware that even his pay cheque will suffer if F-1 does not get "new money", a fact which hasn't gone down well with the Big-3. He should also perhaps take a leaf out of FIFA's manual which has expanded the game to every part of the globe including India which is mainly a "one sport" country which loves cricket, which was acknowledged by Hamilton as well when he raced in Delhi.

Old world thinking still reigns in the minds of champions, a real petty!

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

Rustam Roy

Rustam Roy is digital news journalist at WION. He follows election trends worldwide, football and changes sweeping the Middle Kingdom(not necessarily in that order).

Story highlights

The big three- Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull have been winning by ruthlessly outspending rivals