It would be very difficult for motorsport to be part of sports in an Olympic Games. and money would be one of the serious problems
Today the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the great event that currently hosted 33 sports with 50 disciplines for this edition. The International Olympic Committee is in charge of deciding which sports are included in the calendar. Despite being considered a sport by the IOC and has the backing of the International Automobile Federation, the Formula 1 has no participation within the fair.
Motorsports became an exhibition sport (its results were not reflected in the official medal table) in the framework of the International Exhibition for Paris 1900. In that edition the endurance and speed races were held, divided by engine performance, fuel consumption, driveability and comfort.
121 years after that event, F1 has had great evolutions, but it struggles with various problems both on and off the circuits. These are the reasons why the most popular and important category of motorsport can hardly be part of the Olympic calendar.
Who will participate?
It sounds very logical that the best drivers from each country would have to go. But the International Olympic Committee in the hands of the federations condition the participation and classification of their representatives.
In football, it is with an under-23 team and three reinforcements that exceed the age range. For more equal competition, there can be no more than one or two representatives from the same country per category (example: boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, diving, etc.). In the particular case of boxing that has historically been amateur in the fair, in Rio 2016 they decided that professionals also compete, however, it has not been counted that the participation of renowned fighters, even many of them are not interested in going to fight for a medal or they simply do not have the endorsement of boxing organizations.
It should be noted that the participation of women’s sports in motorsports has historically been small. Currently there is only the W Series (the main category for the development of runners) that was created recently in 2019.
What would happen in motorsport? Hamilton with Great Britain, Czech with Mexico? What will the classification format be like? Can drivers from other categories than F1 participate? Would runners really be interested in competing?
Motorsports have many categories
Motor sport is very complex to understand from the inside out. Many would think that they could compete with Formula cars when there are Touring Cars, Prototypes, Endurance, Karting among many others. In the Olympic Games of Paris 1900 several disciplines were disputed.
For the IOC and the FIA it would be a headache to think which categories could participate or simply be conditioned to just one. An example is the BMX that first started with races in Beijing 2008 and until Tokyo 2020 the Freestyle category was added.
It’s an expensive sport
Starting a racing career is too expensive unless you have sponsors or the backing of a team. In recent years the independent teams have disappeared because it is very difficult to finance the expenses in salaries, design and creation of the car, transfers and logistics.
Probably if Formula 1 disputed the Olympic Games, the coordination would fall directly on the federations of each country and few would dare to disburse millions of dollars for a competition that would be held every 4 years. It not only involves the car and the driver, but also the material and human resources would be part of the delegation.
Imagine that your investment ends in abandonment or a crash in the first round? Max Verstappen’s accident with Lewis Hamilton at the British GP left more than 2 million euros in damage.
This without counting on what is perhaps the most expensive component of all: a track approved for F1. An investment, if the host country of the Olympic tournament lacks it, which could reach 200 million dollars.
Small niche of followers in the world
Although Formula 1 has attracted new fans on the planet and has races on four continents, the market niche is reduced to a small sector of fans.
Historically the category was mainly concentrated in Europe and later an expansion to some countries in America and Asia. Commonly you can see Grand Prix where they do not have local drivers competing, indeed, nations that have never had riders in the category such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
It does not depend 100% on driving to win races
A common stereotype we hear is that “Formula 1 is not sport.” Very far from reality when a competitor loses up to 5 kilos per race, they require extensive physical preparation and the use of strategy is used to achieve the objectives on the track.
Nor can it be denied that it can become unequal competition. Although piloting is vital to get the car’s full potential, your fate depends on various components of the car – engine power, chassis design. In Formula 1 we see it every weekend. Few drivers and teams aspire to victories and podiums, when some only struggle with finishing the race.
The Olympics They have disciplines such as rowing, cycling, equestrianism, among others that are the complement of the athlete (boats, bicycles, horses), but human dexterity has much more relevance than another external factor.
In the remote event that motorsport is considered in the future, the IOC would ask the FIA for an ‘Olympic’ homologation of the car; in other words, that all participants have a racing car that is the same for all (then the set-up of it would fall to the participating national team). Remember the A1GP? Something like that…