The year was 1900 and it was the Paris Olympics games, the last Olympic to ever host any form of Motorsports, along with Cricket and Balooning. 116 years later, we are witnessing the 2016 Rio Olympics games undergoing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and neither Cricket, nor Motorsports are officially part of the biggest sporting event that takes place every 4 years.
While we are not here to discuss why cricket is not part of the Olympics, we are concerned about the Motorsports, and more particularly, the Formula 1. Technically speaking, Rally racing did featured in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and 1972 Munich Olympics, but both the events ran before the games themselves started.
So why the F1, which is considered to be the most extravagant form of the motorsports is part of the Olympics and will it ever make it to the Olympics, we try to decode in our latest feature.
The Olympics are for athletes not machines
Remember the fiasco that made India exit the list of F1 racing venue, after hosting 3 successful races? According to the reports, the Government of the time asked the promoters of the Budh International Circuit to submit entertainment tax because F1 is not a sport. This is somewhat the case with the International Olympics Committee too!
According to the IOC, F1 is not about the players, but about machines. IOC president Jacques Rogge once visited the British Grand Prix in 2012, and said “Frankly speaking, the concept we are having is the games are about the competition for the athletes, not for equipment. Therefore, while having a lot of respect, they will not be included into the Olympic programme.”
This statement raised a lot of eyebrows in the motorsports industry and they were technically right. Sports like equestrian needs a thoroughbred horse and cycling needs ultra-aerodynamic track bikes. But none of them actually need a motorized vehicle, as does the F1. It's surely a technical issue and needs various stakeholders to sit and have a positive discussion on the matter.
Who will represent my nation?
Who will represent the team Great Britain - Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button? Would it be Nico Rosberg or Sebastian Vettel for the team Germany? That's the next big question when we talk about the F1 in the Olympics. And While, your favorite racer may lose out the opportunity to race for the country, we wouldn't mind our country winning the gold, no matter who is racing.
The best-of-the-best is chosen from various countries to compete in the Olympics and this is how the racers will be selected from countries participating in the in the games under the IOC framework. In the past, 'World Cup of Motorsport' A1 GP proved that the races among national teams is very much possible.
What about the venue?
The next big challenge is to search for a venue that would accommodate both F1 racing and other sports. Or is it really necessary? Monaco GP has proven that F1 can be equally successful in the street racing too, and you don't need a 6 km long specialized track for the high-speed sport. It's not necessary for a sports to happen inside a stadium for the Olympics. All you need is a track near the hosting venue, like the BIC near Delhi or Fuji near Tokyo.
Yet, if need be, we have seen indoor tracks like the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing hosting the Formula E championship.
Who will benefit more Olympics or F1?
While it may sound a vague question, but F1 in itself is a big event with a big audience. If F1 comes under Olympics it may help Olympics get a push or is it vice-versa? Olympics is the biggest sporting extravaganza in the whole world and a sport like F1 will definitely get a push from being part of the IOC.
Also, the IOC may change the format of the 1.30 hour long race with 3 practice sessions and a qualifying session. With the FIA looking for ways to make F1 more popular, a format change may help the cause. And while F1 doesn’t need the Olympics in general, motorsports in general would gain a huge reward from it.
What about the budget then?
The biggest hurdle, if ever F1 is included in the Olympics, will be the budget. F1 is one of the most expensive form of motorsports and it's hard to race without sponsors. For a sport like F1, the IOC will have to shell out a lot of money like the FIA does, apart from the expenses that are to be borne by the respective countries on logistics, equipments and staff.
Behind a single racer, is a team of more than 30 technicians and mechanics and their accomodation, transportation will all be in the hands of the Olympics. Infrastructure development, technical requirements and such things cost a bomb and we are not sure if the Olympics committee will be ready to bear the cost.
Come what may, if F1 is inducted in the Olympics, it will be a spectacular event and we can't wait to see, Vettel, Hamilton or our very own Karun Chandok winning some medals!
Source - Motorsport.com