F1: a money-making scheme or a ‘real’ sport?

As many of you might know, I’m a huge fan of motorsport, more specifically Formula One. I’ve grown up watching Formula One with my siblings from a very young age, so I’d say I have kind of managed to understand the ins and outs of the sport. However, growing up, I have been questioned and wondered myself whether it could really be classed as a ‘sport.’ The Oxford definition of sport is ‘an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.’ Without a doubt do Formula One drivers follow this as they are subjected to vigorous physical activity as part of their regimen as their stamina and physical endurance must be phenomenal in order to even qualify as a driver on the driving teams. This is primarily due to the fact that they are travelling at high speeds consistently for two hours or so, in cars that are incredibly low and streamlined. Also, the heat that is in a Formula One cockpit, especially at the hotter rounds of the championship such as Abu Dhabi and Singapore, also put strain on their body because drivers can sweat off anything up to 3kg of their body weight during the course of a race. That’s shocking. Therefore, because of that, drivers must be as fit as possible in order to avoid fatigue-influenced lapses of concentration or self-inflicting and exterior injuries. Then you have people like me, who are totally unfit and struggle to even run up the stairs. Anyway, approaching the season, drivers subject themselves to hours of cardio such as swimming and cycling, and weight-training in the gym in order to maintain a strong physical health. Although Formula One cars have power assisted steering, strong arm muscles and a strong core from drivers is required in order for the car to be controlled during longer races in places such as Abu Dhabi, and Canada.

They also need to have a strong mental health, so they have ‘time off’ and withdraw themselves from any social distractions. In terms of nutrition, F1 drivers tend to have extremely regulated diets.t. A typical pre-race meal might include chicken (or another protein like fish) and vegetables, although some drivers still prefer to eat carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta ahead of a race to provide energy. It is also vitally important that drivers drink large amounts of water before the race, even if they do not feel thirsty, as failure to do so could bring on severe dehydration and possible cramping. Moreover, like athletes in other sports, Formula One drivers are subject to random drug testing. All of this evidently shows that Formula One is seen as a sport to the drivers themselves and team members of each driving team. However, lately Formula One has been argued to be more as a money-making scheme for Bernie Ecclestone and focused more on entertainment factors rather than Formula One behaving as a sport itself. Drivers are paid according to their individual work ethic, advertising projects and record deals. For example in 2016, Sebastian Vettel (a driver of Ferrari) was paid $50 million plus bonuses and Lewis Hamilton (a driver of Mercedes) was paid $31 million plus bonuses. However, drivers such as Daniil Kvyat (a driver of Red Bull) was paid $850,000 and Marcus Ericsson (a driver of Sauber) was paid $450,000. Although their salaries are still quite a lot for a single year, it can be seen as unfair, but that’s a whole other board game of discussion. Formula One is worth approximately £6 billion, with the sport generating £1.1 billion in revenues each year.Corporate hospitality through F1’s glitzy ‘Paddock Club’ plays its part, but most of the revenues come from three sources: hosting fees from race promoters, television deals and sponsorship.

These three – the first two in particular – have been the staple of Bernie Ecclestone’s model which has transformed Formula One into a global phenomenon with the interests of many high-profile celebrities attending such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Pharrell and many more. Race fees also help to make money in Formula One as the sport has been taken to new countries around the world – a number of which are questionable regimes – which are prepared to pay huge sums of money. Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Russia are prepared to pay as much as £40 million to host a race. Race tickets have also been soaring at an all-time high at each race across the globe, making more profit to the Formula One teams. However, higher race ticket prices means generally lower audiences so profits are not always made and some races are doing badly as a result. For example, Silverstone requires government backing as race tickets are too high. However, Bernie Ecclestone says the easiest way to bring down Grand Prix ticket prices is for teams to accept less commercial rights income which is a difficult ask in itself. Nonetheless, Formula One is without doubt making profit almost all the time through race fees, race tickets, merchandise and advertisement in commercialism. To what extent that one outweighs the other to become a ‘sport’ or a ‘money-making scheme’ can still be disputed and most likely will be disputed for many years to come as there are no ‘set-in-stone’ statements that agree or disagree with the argument. So what do you think, is F1 a money-making scheme or a ‘real’ sport?

Safa X


3 thoughts on “F1: a money-making scheme or a ‘real’ sport?

  1. Aasiha Ikrham says:

    I think some of the money that governments from countries invest into Formula One is a waste of money. That money is better off invested into their problems of deficit and poverty instead.


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