If hosting a Formula 1 grand prix means a country’s arrival on the world stage, then none has done so as emphatically as the developing nations.
It is the most watched annual sport show around the world, last year in 2018; this superfast sport attracted 352.3 million unique T.V viewers.
The sport is as costly as a developing country’s economy and is being used by many countries outside Europe to make the mark on international sport.
F1’s policy of looking for new venue out its Europe heartland has fuelled this urge of hosting a grand prix.
F1 for years now has been in same places where it was during 1980s.
Chinese and Japanese Grands Prix have been the only one to host F1 races outside Europe for long time now.
Nevertheless, with change in ownership F1 is looking to enter new markets where it sees mutual benefit for the host nation and its prospects.
Singapore, Mexico, Baku, Bahrain have all added a different flavour and excitement to the F1 calendar while F1 has pumped billions into these nations’ economies.
Nevertheless, what makes F1 so lucrative for developing nations and what does F1 get out of it?
Racing under the Lights
If new venues had a role model to follow, it would have been Singapore Grand Prix.
The small island nation since hosting its first-ever grand prix in 2008 has added S$150m (US$125m) every year, in tourist receipts.
F1 weekend in Singapore has also attracted 44,000 international visitors just for week leading up to the race on Sunday.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry, which has been enjoying F1 races and business, report that local small and medium scale business have 80% more activity during the race week.
F1 for the first time after Monaco tried a street circuit in Asia and it was a hit formula, just like Lewis and Mercedes.
When T.V viewers follow F1 cars on dedicated circuits they tend to get bored with, as he area locally is not shown.
However, in a street race T.V viewer is seeing every part of the city while following a particular car.
The last corner at Singapore Circuit gives a splendid view of the Singapore Eye, Singapore’s Garden by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands.
While the circuit itself takes you through city gallery and various other parts of the cosmopolitan city.
A research conducted in 2012, by the Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by the Singapore government, found that 10 percent of the high net worth individuals polled who had watched the race on television said they were more likely to visit the city-state.
This also helps local business as they see huge inflow of foreigners.
The eateries along the Marina bay see 80%-90% percent more orders during the grand prix weekend.
The Singapore Grand Prix has Singapore Airlines as its airline partner, which offers special discounts to those who would be travelling to city-state for the race. This further adds to the Singapore economy.
173% jump in mobile activity at key local restaurants and an 82% lift at local shopping malls during the race weekend, as compared with normal weekend activities.
ION Orchard Shopping Mall was the most popular retail location, with a 1333% jump in mobile activity from Friday to Sunday, compared to Monday to Thursday, with Iggy’s restaurant in the mall seeing a 1233% spike in mobile activity.
The best performing hotel was the Mandarin Oriental, up 514%, while Marina Bay Sands casino proved most popular with gamblers, leaping 237%.
Overall, the weekend saw a 413% increase in traffic to key restaurants and a 332% jump at shopping malls, when compared to activity observed throughout the week.
F1 grandstand locations were also nearly 500% busier on race weekend.
F1 is also targeting non-f1 viewers’ youth, through music concerts and after-race parties.
Singers like Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias, and Martin Garrix have all graced the weekend.
“The race is very demanding,” said Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff but fir them it is also exciting to race under lights and where so much money is involved.
Not Everyone Wins in F1
Singapore has become role model for many other countries in Asia to host F1 races, especially India and Malaysia.
However, India discontinued F1 after 2013 and Malaysia discontinued after 2017.
Both these countries provided as exciting venues for the races however, dwindled away or were not able to reap benefits of the multi-billion dollar sport.
However, sport remains popular among Indians as many rush to Singapore to catch the super-fast cars.
Singapore’s Ministry of Tourism showed that Tourists from India were the most prevalent, rising 749% for race weekend, compared to the previous week.
Obviously, We Indians can’t miss out on any action, can we?
In India, as Hamilton described, the circuit was amazing but socio-cultural changes caused a problem.
A combination of unsound corporate decisions combined with the unfortunate government policy sounded the death knell for the sport in India
The Jaypee Group (who built the track) wanted to try their best to recover their investment of $ 463 million immediately. When they fell out with then F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, the track was reduced to being an excellent facility that mostly hosts journalists during car launches.
Former UP chief minister Mayawati, whose legacy largely is building a Rs 120 crore memorial in her name in Noida, also deemed F1 as an entertainment and not a sport during her rule. As a result, she wanted F1 to pay 65% Entertainment Tax, which was simply not possible.
Malaysia also said that dwindling audience and T.V viewer rates made it impossible for the Petronas nations to stage a grand prix.
2020, F1 for the first time goes to Vietnam with exciting proposal for the economy of the nation,
While, Liberty Media and F1’s head Chase Carrey is in talks with London and Los Angeles for street Grands Prix.
It is exciting to see how F1 adds to the economy and gains fans out of it but it should also introspect what happens to those countries who just fall off the calendar…