India has found itself in a rather awkward position today. It has been officially released from the 2014 calendar, but is slated for a return the following position. Makes it sound like they are being given time to make their race promotion more robust, more comprehensive. India is a massive country with vast amounts of people. That brings the inevitable, and always challenging, task of trying to make Formula One appeal to those vast amounts of people. Arguably, India did not do a great job at the whole self-promotion for its first two years as host to Formula One.
India is just one part of a group of three races which have not been doing so hot recently, to put it lightly. Along with India, Korea and China have both hosted Grands Prix since 2010 and 2004, respectively, with varying degrees of failure. China’s endeavor into Formula One started out relatively well, but soon crowds dwindled, enthusiasm waned, and hype surrounding the even was smothered. Now, what should be an event looked forward to by a nation looks rather like a group of cars that accidentally found an abandoned racetrack and decided to have some fun.
Korea, on the other hand, has been a failure from the start. From the track not being fully constructed in its first year, to the remnants from the 2010 race being left for an entire year for the F1 circus to return to in 2011 (particularly food that was not disposed of, something the teams had the misfortune to deal with in the country’s second year as host), Korea has been an out in out disappointment to the fans at home, the teams in the pit lane, and the reputation of the sport at large.
What India has over these two venues, though, is a European connection. I won’t give a history lecture or anything, but India’s historic relationship with Europe, while not always rosy, is still alive today. Perhaps Bernie Ecclestone sees in India an opportunity for connectedness where is China and Korea, only more isolation. If anything, Bernie sees that Korea and China just don’t have the drive or desire to really be a part of Formula One. If they did, they wouldn’t have let their Grands Prix fall apart like they have.
India has a lot of potential. As a country, it has two former Formula One drivers who, while not setting the world alight with their natural talent, gave the country a reputation. A good one, at that. India’s potential for bringing something meaningful to Formula One is far greater than that of Korea and China, who, from what I know, don’t exactly have any drivers with real Formula One prospects.
So what can Asian countries do to secure a long term future in Formula One? Want it. They just have to want it. That seems, and is, far more simple than the process of getting a race actually is, but if the desire is there, then nothing is stopping them from getting what they want. If a country like China truly wants to be a part of Formula One, they have to show it from the very first race. They have to be accommodating to the teams and drivers, and they have to make sure that their facilities are properly maintained. This will assure everyone involved that they want what they’re getting.
If there is anything that Bernie Ecclestone wants more than rich Asian countries participating in Formula One, its rich Asian countries that want to be a part of Formula One.