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Is F1 An Olympic Sport? Could It Be?

F1 has been around for decades and has had athletes from around the world competing for the ultimate prize in motorsport: The Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship. With such popularity, many people wonder if F1 could ever be an Olympic sport.

F1 is not an Olympic sport, and it probably will never become one. Even though F1 drivers are elite athletes, the finances and facilities required to race F1 cars is too extreme for it to become a part of the Olympics. On top of that, motorized sports are not recognized by the Olympic Committee.

Motorsport has been featured at the Olympics in the past, but today there are other formats similar to the Olympic setup for motorsports, where drivers form teams based on their nationality and compete against one another. Below, we’ll discuss the reasons F1 isn’t an Olympic sport.

Motorsport At The Olympics

While the modern-day Olympics doesn’t recognize machine-based, there was a time when motorsport were part of the Olympics. Back in the early 1900s, the Olympics featured cars, and although record keeping from the time is not entirely clear, there are some details as to how this was done.

In 1900, Paris hosted the Olympics and one of the events included was motorsport. The races involved 14 cars on the grid. However, the focus was on the cars themselves rather than the driver behind the steering wheels. The “nations” that entered were based on where the car was manufactured rather than the nationality of the drivers.

Cars were entered in different classes, based on their weight and how many seats they had. Each class would earn a trophy for winning because medals were not handed out to the winning athletes until 1904. The trophy would go to the winning manufacturer rather than the driver, as this was the focus of motorsport in the Olympics.

Technically, these races were unofficial because they were hosted in partnership with the World’s Fair, which is a technological innovation exhibition. This led many to believe that the races were just a way for manufacturers to show off their technology and to determine who had built the best car at the time.

Why F1 Isn’t At The Olympics

There are several reasons why F1 isn’t at the Olympics, ranging from monetary to logistical. Ultimately, however, we’re unlikely to ever see F1 at the Olympics in the future because the main premise of the Olympic Games is to show off an athlete’s raw talent and abilities.

The Olympic Committee does not recognize machine-based or motorized sports at the Olympics. This includes any sport that uses an engine. Officially, the Olympic Committee states: “Sports, disciplines, or events in which performance depends essentially on mechanical propulsion are not acceptable.”

However, even if this were to change, we’ll probably still never see Formula 1 cars competing at the Olympic Games. We’d be more likely to see other forms of motorsport in the Olympics, and there are several reasons for this.

Teams

The first problem with having F1 cars at the Olympics is because F1 is a team sport. This creates several issues including logistics and the actual running of the cars themselves. Firstly, teams are responsible for building Formula 1 cars from scratch, so who would build the Olympic Formula 1 cars?

Would teams be made up of one nationality? In which case, it would be difficult to put together an entire team from one nation that is specialized enough to repair and maintain the cars during Olympic F1 races. Teams need specialized engineers with years of experience to work on these cars during a Grand Prix weekend.

There is also the problem of how the teams would transport all their equipment and the car to the venue. This is all arranged and paid for by Formula 1 teams, but Olympic teams would not be able to do the same with their budgets.

If the Olympic F1 races were also divided into nationalities, it creates a difficult situation for some drivers. For example, Alex Albon is the only Thai driver on the Formula 1 grid at the moment, while there are three British drivers on the current grid.

Budget

Another important factor to consider is the budget that the teams will need to race F1 cars at the Olympics. Formula 1 teams spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get through a season. Participating in even one season costs millions of dollars.

The problem is that new cars would have to be built specifically for the Olympics. These would most likely have to be entirely equal to ensure that all drivers have an equal chance at winning based on their skill. However, the cost of one single Formula 1 car is extreme.

Olympic teams would need to secure massive sponsors just to build these Formula 1 cars. On top of that, there’s the logistics of transporting all the cars, spare parts, and equipment to the venue, most of which is paid for by teams through their own logistical partners in F1.

Then there’s also the issue of crash damage. If a driver crashes or damages a part on their car, it needs to be replaced. Simply damaging a front wing can cost up to $150,000. Olympic teams would not have the budget to ensure their car is able to compete throughout the entire event, even without crash damage.

Facilities

Facilities pose another issue for F1 and the Olympics. Not only does F1 require state-of-the-art facilities, but they also require multi-million-dollar racetracks. Racetracks must be FIA Grade 1 certified in order for them to safely host a Grand Prix, and this responsibility falls onto the host country.

This means the host country would not only need to invest millions of dollars in the Olympic venue, but they would also need to build a state of the art, FIA Grade 1 circuit if they want to host F1 at the Olympics and they didn’t already have one. This could end up costing the host nation billions of dollars, which is not ideal considering the high costs already involved in hosting the Olympics.

Formula 1 teams also require incredible facilities just to keep their cars operational. Storage needs to be secure to prevent any theft or damage to the cars, and the team members need enough space to be able to work on their cars and store their spare parts and tools.

F1 cars are extremely sensitive, and they have some important requirements, even if they’re just sitting in their garage. F1 cars need to be warm enough before the engine can even be started, this is done by heating the fuel and oil while it’s in the car. The facilities would be required to provide this equipment to the teams.

Could F1 Ever Be At The Olympics?

F1 could probably never be at the Olympics. The main issue is that the Olympic Committee currently won’t allow it to happen. If you add in all the costs, requirements, and baggage that hosting F1 brings with it, it’s likely that we’ll never see an F1 race at the Olympic Games.

With the massive growth that F1 has been experiencing, many people have been asking whether the sport could ever feature at the Olympic games in the future. The glitz and glamor of Formula 1 and the fastest drivers in the world all competing head-to-head for Olympic Gold medals sounds extremely exciting.

But the Olympic Committee says that “Sports, disciplines or events in which performance depends essentially on mechanical propulsion are not acceptable.” Until this changes, we’re not going to be seeing any form of motorsport at the Olympic Games, as much as many people would love to see it happen.

However, because of this rule that the Olympics has in place, there have been several other events that have popped up in recent years that allow for different nations to compete against one another in an Olympic-style motorsport event.

A1 GP

The first Olympic-style motorsport event was the A1 GP. Although it’s no longer in existence, this sport was loved by many motorsport fans all around the world, and many have called for it to make a comeback in recent years. However, it seems unlikely for that to ever happen.

The A1 GP was a single-make series, which means all the cars are the exact same. All drivers used equal machinery, with chassis and engines supplied by Ferrari. This series was all about the level of skill the drivers had. A1 GP only ran from 2005 to 2009, but during that time, it featured some incredible moments.

There were 21 teams and 35 drivers. Each team was from a different country and featured drivers of the same nationality, much like motorsport in the Olympics would. Only four teams had the honor of winning this championship: France, Switzerland, Ireland, and Germany.

The series featured many drivers, including Nico Hulkenburg, who made his way to Formula 1 shortly after his stint in A1 GP when he won with Team Germany. However, the series collapsed due to financial struggles. Ultimately, the sport was loved by drivers and fans, but was not sustainable enough.

FIA Motorsport Games

The FIA Motorsport Games is still relatively new and gaining traction. The Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the series’ ability to grow during its early stages. It was founded in 2019 and the event was hosted in November at ACI Vallelunga Circuit in Rome, Italy.

The FIA Motorsport Games is designed to be like the Olympics of Motorsport, with different disciplines of racing featuring drivers from various nationalities. At the 2019 event, there were already several disciplines introduced including: GT3-spec cars, TCR Touring Car, Formula 4, drifting, a karting slalom, and eSports.

Unfortunately, the 2020 and 2021 events were postponed due to the global pandemic. However, the event is officially returning for 2022 with more disciplines being added. Currently, there aren’t any F1 drivers involved, due to the timings of the Motorsport Games coinciding with the F1 calendar. However, we may see them attend in the future.

What makes this event so great is the fact that there are multiple disciplines with the possibility of more being added, like rally cross and superbikes for example. Formula 1 likely won’t be added though unless the event is officially worked into the F1 calendar in some way.

Race Of Champions

The Race of Champions is an annual event that has been considered the Olympics of Motorsport ever since its inception in 1988. The event is hosted each year, and drivers from all around the world are invited to take part. The event is strictly based on invites only, which is why it’s earned the name of Race of Champions.

We’ve seen many Formula 1 drivers taking part in this event over the years, namely Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and more recently, his son Mick Schumacher. The German F1 drivers have become regulars at the Race of Champions.

However, we also see drivers from other branches of motorsport, such as eSports, WRC, and endurance racing. The goal of the Race of Champions is to create an event where all drivers compete against one another in equal machinery, often outside of their comfort zone (for example, racing in electric vehicles or buggies).

The event takes place in two different formats. The first is drivers teamed up as nations. For example, you might see Team Great Britain or Team Germany, with both drivers sharing the same nationality. The other format is individual, where all the drivers race against one another.

Have There Been Any Olympian F1 Drivers?

The 8 Olympian F1 drivers are:

  1. Prince Bira
  2. Alfonso de Portago
  3. Divina Galica
  4. Roberto Mieres
  5. Ben Pon
  6. Bob Said
  7. Robin Widdows
  8. Alex Zanardi

Of those drivers, Zanardi is the only one to win medals. He won four golds and two silvers as a Paralympian from 2012 to 2016. Zanardi competed as a paracyclist in the London 2012, and Rio 2016 Olympics. The Italian Olympian raced in F1 from 1991 to 1994 and completed another stint in 1999. A major crash in 2001 resulted in the amputation of his legs, but he returned to racing shortly after.

Final Thoughts

F1 is not an Olympic sport. As exciting as it would be to see drivers go head-to-head at one of the most prestigious events in the world, it’s unlikely to ever happen due to the rules of the Olympic Committee. There are alternatives, however, like the Race of Champions and the FIA Motorsport Games.