Asia has witnessed a new phenomenon: hosting a Formula One race has become a status symbol to display growing economic clout. Many locations with no history of motorsport have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build circuits and buy the rights to hold major races. But these … haven’t arisen from the growth of a local market for F1, so much as from Asia’s ability to cater to fans back in Europe. The evening race times fit afternoon European television schedules for the established audience. Sparking greater Asian interest in F1 will be the key to transforming the region into a profit center for the sport rather than merely an exotic locale for the races Europeans watch on television.
I’ve noted previously that as a traditionalist. I am chagrined at the loss of classic F1 circuits such as Estoril, Mexico, Holland (Zaandvoort) and the United States (Watkins Glen, Indianapolis), as well as periodic threats to the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club) that F1 will depart venerable Silverstone, in favor of Middle East and Asian venues. It’s one thing to abandon unsafe and outdated circuits like the original Nurburgring. Times change, of course, but the rank commercialism in today’s Formula One schedule is difficult as an enthusiast to support uncritically.