September 17th, 2010
02:15 PM ET

Is there a continental shift in Formula One?

Will Formula One's increased presence in Asia threaten Europe's grip on the sport?
Will Formula One's increased presence in Asia threaten Europe's grip on the sport?

As the 2010 Formula One season bids a fond farewell to Europe, heading east for the culmination of a thrilling world championship dogfight, it begs the question of whether this continental shift might be something more permanent.

With the exception of a weekend of sun and samba in Brazil, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and co will fight for global supremacy in Asia, a trend which looks set to continue into the 2011 season.

South Korea will make its grand prix debut in October, pending approval from FIA inspectors, with India set to follow suit next year with a race in Delhi. When you add this to the six Asian stops already on Formula One’s world tour, almost half of next year’s circuits will be on the continent.

It also brings the total number of Asian dates on the calendar to eight, level with Europe, and the sport’s traditional power base is now coming under serious threat from its neighbor.

In 2003, Japan and Malaysia were the sole grand prix representatives of their continent, and had been joined by tracks in Bahrain, Singapore and China by 2008. This number has increased steadily since, and is a clear indication of the region’s growing influence in the sport.

On the track, Europe is still leading the way, with Kamui Kobayashi at BMW Sauber and Hispania Racing’s Sakon Yamamoto the only Asian drivers with a car this year.

Off the track, however, Europe is quickly losing ground. The greater financial strength of Asia, particularly in oil-rich nations, has given them a distinct advantage, with European countries still finding their feet following the global economic downturn.

If you add to this the potential expansion of the sport’s fan base in a country such as India, with an estimated population in excess of one billion people, it would seem the winds of change are blowing through the paddock.

Although no amount of money could buy the rich heritage and tradition of venues like Monte Carlo and Silverstone, the enthusiasm and drive of the new F1 countries poses serious questions about Europe’s grip on the sport.

Formula One has built solid foundations on Europe’s prestigious teams, historic venues and passionate fans, so a complete shift in control seems to be unlikely.

Nevertheless, if the people of Asia embrace their races with the same level of dedication that’s been put into the organisation of their races and design of their tracks, then Europe may have to start looking over its shoulder.

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Filed under:  Motorsport
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Suhas

    Mate, you missed Karun Chandok from India. He's still racing with the HRT team....

    September 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Reply
  2. John O'Kane

    And before 2003 in Japan and Malaysia there was the 1996 F1 debut in Melbourne, Australia and in case you forgot Australia is in South East Asia right next door to Indonesia.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  3. Nigel Hamilton

    According to one Bernie Ecclestone, F1 is a spectacle that will be produced in Asia and consumed in Europe. Something like an electric appliance that is

    September 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  4. btangos

    The british have destroyed the formula one championship and in particular Bernie Ecclestone . This sport is less and less popular.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  5. giovanni

    In my opinion also the Monza track is at high level of enthusiasm and passionate fans, in particularly as the Ferrari wins.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  6. Henk

    As a European i must say this article is complete hogwash. Any European i know couldn`t be more happy that Asia is building new tracks expanding Formula 1 in their continent. Like Football having become a global sport this is exactly the perfect development for Formula 1 as well. The Writer of this article completely misses the point in making this seem like a competition of tracks. Formula 1 aims to be a global racing sport, with full participation from as many nations on as many continents as possible. So please, YES, let Asia build more tracks. And South and North-America also. I might also add that Asia has almost 4Billion People VS Europe with less then 800 million. Good god how can you even compare these continents to begin with. And good God how bad would it be if a Nation like India that has more then 2 times the population of the entire European Union would build 1 track of it`s own. How bad would that be right? What nonsense. Anyway: Great job to the People in India and all over Asia in expanding this great racing sport. Thank you and Peace from Holland.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  7. Varun

    Except for Football Europe is obsolete in every sphere of life.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  8. ramiro lopez

    Please correct the last paragraph: organization has to be wrtitten with a Z not an S; you wrote "organisation" .

    September 17, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  9. milou

    Now the best thing would be that this "sport" shifts to another planet altogether. Its direct, but crucially indirect, impact on global warming is disturbing, and only equaled in danger by the rethorics and lobbying of the car industry.

    September 17, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  10. Andre Martins-Brazil

    It's ridiculous Formula One to leave Europe, where this
    sport appeared, because of money. However, this is the power of money, which is a reality in all areas, including sports. I miss the races in France, Portugal, Austria, Netherlands and San Marino, as well in other countries with tradition in motorsport, like USA, Mexico and Argentina.

    September 18, 2010 at 12:43 am | Reply
  11. AJS

    Quite possibly soon to be no more races in the two Americas (Canada is 'iffy' and Austin is still a dream) and Austraiia (huge financial losses), F1 could easily find itself racing just on two continents; Europe & Asia.
    So much for calling itself a 'world championship"

    September 18, 2010 at 12:58 am | Reply
  12. raceluver

    and what is your point? What an empty piece of news.....!

    September 18, 2010 at 2:42 am | Reply
  13. Eran Adomi

    The main reason for going east is not mentioned here.
    The main reason is the tobbaco advertisement which was forbiden to show in europre on the cars and on the track, otherwise it will prevent
    tv broadcast from the european tracks.

    September 18, 2010 at 5:00 am | Reply
  14. Steven Macpherson Gopi

    you seem to have left off another asian karun chandhok of hispania as well. also understand that another talented indonesian gp3 driver has also recently been recruited as next seasons test driver for virgin f1 team

    September 18, 2010 at 5:54 am | Reply
  15. F1Champ

    Even though Asia is growing economically strong, the fan following is still lagging behind, to see some grand prix with seats empty leaves one in doubt about the fan participation in the races which helps in building up the overall F1atmosphere. So in that aspect, i agree with this article that Europe should get concerned when Asian F1 fans flock to the races, then truly there will be a demographic shift in F1, till then F1 still lies in heart of Europe.

    September 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Reply
  16. jack bauer

    Are you (the writer) jealous of ASIA ?

    September 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  17. Correction S

    Firstly, it isn't a threat, it's a shift happening economically and socially throughout every realm of modern life. It's going to happen.

    Secondly, Karun Chandhok is also asian.

    September 19, 2010 at 12:17 am | Reply
  18. alfredo vaz

    The overall reaction to Tom McGowan's article,
    could be summed up in the comments of jack bauer:"are you (the writter) jealous of Asia?", correction S' Firstly, it isn't a threat, it's a shift happening economically and socially throughout every realm of modern life. It's going to happen and by varun's "Except for Football Europe is obsolete in every sphere of life" comment.
    The record-braking crowd of 62000+ spectators at this morning's Malaysia 's Moto GP races is a firm indicator that the shift is happening and for many of the right reasons. I was born in Africa, am of European up-bringing, and have been living in Asia for the past 27 years. I feel at the centre of it all. Go Asia!

    October 11, 2010 at 11:39 am | Reply
  19. infogmagogy

    Pleasant Post. This transmit helped me in my college assignment. Thnaks Alot

    July 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Reply

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