My African Experience with F1 Motorsport

Formula 1 Motorsport Experience

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As a black African from native Botswana, I found it very uncommon the talk to my peers, friends and the entire community about the world of motor sport especially formula 1. There is literally very little knowledge about this sport particularly that all F1 events are hosted overseas, in Europe, Americas, Asia etc. In to African continent, F1 motor sport is not promoted nor advertised rigorously as other sporting events/codes like soccer, athletics etc. My aim here is to rally on and create a platform for advertisement, provide in-depth knowledge in F1 motor sport to my native countrymen (Botswana) and the entire African continent. The journey begins with my humble beginnings and the love for motor sport as early as 1996 when I was an undergraduate student at our only University of Botswana.


My Passion for Motorsport

It all started during my teen years after moving over to the city of Gaborone in the late 80s, joining my dad who was working there at Bank of Botswana as a driver. This was an opportunity for me to start seeing a lot of different vehicles in the streets of the capital city. I used to hang around a lot (outside school hours) with my teen mates playing with homemade vehicular toys and attending weekend film broadcasts at cinemas. This motor gaming part was taken to another level, when our group started now playing competitive video games as we switched on to high school. Unfortunately we moved in different directions at the end of our high school years. To cut the story short, around 1994/1995, at varsity level I reignited the passion on motor sport by browsing the internet, which was very limited in terms of accessibility and affordability. Well I was not aware that there was or there is a motor racing sport simply called Formula One.

I have known soccer events like World Cups, Olympics, Tennis etc, but this formula 1 “thing” was strange and unfamiliar to me and yet exciting to watch. So I had to read materials on the sport, rules and regulations, calendar events, participants (teams), drivers, engine manufacturers etc. What really struck me most was the speed at which these cars attained, braking ability at high speeds, technological masterpiece and not to mention the drivers behind the wheels. To date, I have watched almost 80% of all formula 1 races on television and supported my team all along. But yet non of these races have ever been held in Africa as far as my memory serves me. Well, what keeps me hopeful and encouraged is to fact that we have a six times world champion black driver in Formula One, in the form of Lewis Hamilton (#LH44).


History of F1 Motorsport – my own understanding

My own limited history in motor sport is that this event started in to 1920s through the 1930s (mostly in Europe) known as Formula A championship. It was shelved thereafter due to the Second World War (WWII) but later ignited in the 1950s as Formula 1 championship. Very few teams/manufacturers such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and ALFA romeo competed due to high costs and accidents.

1954 Mercedes benz racing car

This led to the formation of the governing body in the form of Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) which laid out rules and regulations for the entire motor racing fraternity. Manufacturers like LOTUS joined in to 1970s, Mclaren and Williams in to 1980s, and Toyota, Renault completed the line up.

As far as history tells, a number of elite drivers had won the world championships with different motoring brands; Juan Manuel Fangio (different manufacturers – 1950s), Jim Clark, Jackie Steward, Graham Hill, Niki Lauda and others (1960s – 1970s). The early 1980s show the dominance of Ferrari in partnership with the skillful drivers such as Nelson Piquet, Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi. Mclaren concluded the late 1980s and early 1990s with the crafted speed and skill of both Anton Senna and Alain Prost. The most ‘recently remembered’ by most millennial is the dominance of Ferrari in the 20th century catapulted by the only Michael Schumacher.

2018 Mercedes benz racing car – w10

The progressive evolution, regulation changes and safety standards in F1 motor racing made the sport lucrative commercially. The fact that F1 has a large fan base around the globe, it is very appropriate to reiterate that why is not held in the African continent.


Benefits of hosting F1 event – African perspective

Well from my little knowledge of a Formula 1 motor sport event, there are naturally more benefits to the host country that could far exceed the list below:

  • infrastructure development – roads, racing circuits, airports, hotels, restuarants
  • motor tourism – motor shows, auctions, currency exchange
  • TV advertisement rights
  • Leisure – national tourist event
  • Retail centres – Tickets, games, merchandise
  • Young driver development structures and facilities
  • Knowledge and information sharing
  • Donations to the needy and other NGOs

    Melbourne f1 Circuit

The list goes on and on, but what is important is to create awareness platform to the vast potential fans, advertisement,and convince governments and F1 CEOs and larger global fanbase that hosting F1 in Africa is possible and viable if the right mind set and approach is put to work. This may not necessarily be targeting the groups mentioned above but rather, it is looking at the entire F1 fanbase and the newbies as well.


Technology in Formula 1

It has come to my understanding that Formula 1 cars have the leading edge technology and sophisticated softwares that are mostly not available to road cars. The sport is basically a trend setter when it comes to technology advancement in the motor industry. This makes the sport very exciting and I always wonder what comes next at the the beginning of each season. The party begins with DRS (drag resistance system), aerodynamics, wheel guns, rear diffusers, tyre technology, steering wheel technology, energy recovery harvesting, braking systems, exhaust and hydraulics systems, the list is just endless. So the intention and ultimate goal is to experience this at our own backyard, or given a chance f1 fans must visit the factories where these cars are manufactured.

Conclusion

It is my utmost desire as a dedicated formula 1 fan, to attract as many fans as I can, sell the sport to any African government including Botswana,fans around the globe, to be in the forefront on the journey to host this prestigious event. My plea also rest with the FIA to expand the F1 fanbase and extend their footprint on the AFrican continent and elsewhere where F1 is little known. The benefits are enormous and long lasting. Am personally available to assist the F1 teams, media and advertising agencies to explore and rich out the potential African fanbase.

 

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16 thoughts on “My African Experience with F1 Motorsport

  1. Hello there, nice write up you have there.

    I know little or nothing about formula 1 sport ,I have only watched it on TV on one or two occasions. I found it interesting I support your opinion of the F1 team expanding and extending to other countries, especially in Africa. I believe it will generate funds for the country. Thanks.

    1. Thanks very much Lizzy for your comments, at least I have a backing from you and others. I will keep on adding more interesting topics around this post.

      Thanks

  2. Heloooo dear, thanks for sharing these concise article with us, I was actually researching online when I saw your post, thanks so much for such great reviews, and I also want to thank you for the hard work you put into bringing these website together and providing such useful information, I believe quality content Like this is the key, I will surely do some recommendations. Thanks for the info

    1. Thank you very much for your sweet comments, please keep in touch for more of your advice and encouragement

      Thanks

  3. Hi Joel,

    Nice web page and an interesting read. When it comes to cars and speed, there has always been a large crowd of fans. I read an article that suggests a half billion Formula 1 fans are out there and in different markets. I think as long as people have the dispensable income to spend on the sport, they will come. There are plenty of information sources that cater to racing fans, Grassroots motorsports magazine is only one.  Keep up the great work.

    Larry

    1. Thank you Larry, I totally agree with you, the sport has got a large following and its upon us to tap in it, increase it further and benefit from the revenue generated!!

      Thanks, keep in touch

  4. What an interesting idea, I am familiar with Formula One racing.  It is the most popular annual car-race series in the world.   People from all over the world attend each event.   It is a great opportunity for visitors to interact with people from all over the world while visiting a new country.   An African host site would not only bring prestige; but also commerce.  Would Botswana have the resources and infrastructure to support an event?  How large would you estimate the current fanbase is on the continent? 

    1. Thanks Steve, well said and noted. Botswana is not yet there to stage the event but other African countries like South Africa have a big chance to do so. It just needs the right set up and can do sort of approach. Well I believe the fanbase is there in excess of tens of thousands, well that is also one of my objectives to attract more!!!

      Thanks

  5. No doubts The Formula one(F1) motor comes with so much amazing features which makes it unique in itself and goods to acquire. But Africa have really poor infrastructure maybe you have seen a some good part. But I can tell you the roads are bad for most parts. Only a few part has good infrastructure. Like you said, most people in government will be interested to add it too their parking lot.

    Thanks for sharing this with me.

  6. Hello Joel, I have been a fan of Formula 1 since I was a child and I must say I am proud son of technicians who made sports cars in the late ’60s and I have had a love for fast cars especially. I have not been privileged to visit Africa and reading about this wonderful article has given me so my to ponder about with regards this wonderful place. Cheers

    1. Thank you Justin, I see you’ve been privileged to be closer to the sport, thumbs up. You could be having something in the pot to share with me as well, please stay in touch, your chance will come to visit Africa.

      Thanks

  7. Joel, this is an interesting read. I would love to see a formula 1 event in Africa. It’s been in every continent but Africa. It needs to be if formula 1 is going to be a truly global sport. Besides I don’t know anywhere in the world where you could get a better backdrop than Africa. I’m not sure why it hasn’t happened. Perhaps there is disagreement between the countries about who should host it. It would be interesting to do some more digging into that subject.

    1. Very interesting indeed James, to attain global sport status it has to be staged in Africa. That’s my view and I see you rally behind it as well. Keep in touch

      Thanks

  8. I came from the country of one of the biggest F1 pilots that the world has ever known, “Ayrton Senna do Brasil”. hehe F1 is huge in Brazil too and because of the timezone of the races in Europe, I remember waking up on Sunday morning and watching F1 races. That’s a sport that really brings people together! Keep up the good work!

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