The Ben Evans column: F1 Olympics

Posted on | Author Ben Evans

F1Fanatic guest writer Ben Evans pushes the case for motor racing to be part of the 2012 London Olympics.

Every four years at some point during the Olympics the debate rumbles around ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ why is motorsport not included? Usually this is dismissed out of hand – the Olympics is a battle of man not machine, it favours minority sports not the mainstream sports we usually follow.

However I believe that there are good reasons for motorsport to be included in the Olympics. Firstly top race drivers are as talented in their field as many of those competing and that equally most drivers (Paul Tracy excepted) are a great deal more athletic than most Olympic competitors.

OK, but isn?σΤιΌΤδσt motorsport all about the equipment and not the driver?

Yes in most levels of motorsport it is, which is why a driver-centric Olympic tournament would be fantastic. Likewise, I would argue that many Olympic sports are reliant on the competitors equipment in much the same way. Equestrian events are all about horsepower, cycling is partly won by the bike, sailing is essential one make racing on water. In short, to exclude motorsport from the Olympics on the basis that is about machine rather than driver is a poor argument.

Yes, we could quibble over the IOC would ever allow motor racing into the Olympics (of course they won’t it’s even written in their rules somwhere). Or we could figure out how a motor racing Olympics event might work, which is much more fun.

For motorsport to be included in the Olympics it would have to be proven beyond all doubt that the machinery is equal. Anyone who have ever raced in an arrive-and-drive or one make series will know this is nigh-on impossible to verify.

Luckily I have a solution. Now, much as I would love to see a knock out competition in Formula Fords a la Formula Ford Festival, it’s not practical because some drivers would be better suited to the car.

It is for that reason that the format for the Olympic Motorsport Event ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ to be run at Brands Hatch in 2012, is as follows:

Four race events on successive days. Each event, depending on entries, is on a knock-out heats and finals basis:

Event 1 ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Formula Ford ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Single seaters with no aerodynamic grip, a battle of ability in the finest ?σΤιΌ?£racing?σΤιΌΤδσ cars ever built. I would say that the latest Mygale chassis should suit nicely.

Event 2 ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Renault Clios ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Low grip, low power, a real challenge for the top drivers to gain the advantage and it should produce some great racing

Event 3 ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Formula Three ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Single seaters, big on grip, slicks and wings racing. Unlikely to produce a great race but will bring driver technical ability to the fore

Event 4 ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Ginetta G50 ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Big hairy sportscars, again it will be set-up and technical skills rather than dog fighting which will come to the fore.

How would the drivers be selected? All countries are automatically guaranteed a single entry, however to enter two drivers a country must have one or more driver currently competing at the top of international motorsport ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ F1, IRL, NASCAR, WTCC and DTM. Why these selections? Well they are the top series, but also those where there are the biggest Olympic stakeholders
And the teams? My picks would be as follows:

UK ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Andy Priaulx (hugely diverse) and Anthony Davidson (McLaren not wishing to release Lewis Hamilton, inevitably)
USA ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart
Germany ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel
France ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Sebastian Bourdais and Sebastien Loeb
Finland ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen
Australia ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo
Brazil ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Tony Kanaan and Felipe Massa
Japan ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Kazuki Nakajima and Sakon Yamomoto
Spain ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Fernando Alonso and Andy Soucek
Italy ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Jarno Trulli and Valentino Rossi
Norway ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Petter Solberg
Russia ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Vitali Petrov
Portugal ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Pedro Lamy
Poland ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Robert Kubica
New Zealand ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Scott Dixon and Brendon Hartley
Netherlands ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Guido van der Garde
India ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Narain Karthikeyan
Czech Republic ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Tomas Enge
China ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Ho Ping Tung
Canada ?σΤιΌΤΗ£ Paul Tracy and Robert Wickens

Nominate more motor racing Olympians – or devise your own motor racing Olympic event – in the comments…

Olympians, like F1 drivers, told to keep their celebrations under control

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Ben Evans

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32 comments on “The Ben Evans column: F1 Olympics”

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  1. Gee, didn’t they used to have bicylce racing in past Olympic events? Did they have it in Bejing?? Shows how closely I watched it this year!

  2. Yep – bike racing was in the Olympics

    I know this would never happen, but if you saw the cycling, sailing and especially equestrian in the olympics you can see that technology is playing an ever increasing role

  3. Brazil – Rubens and Felipe Massa

  4. for the man and machine argument, there was the pistol event, so that is kind of man and machine already

  5. As much as I love auto racing,and as boring as I think the Olympics are,I prefer the two never meet.I do see race drivers as atheletes(from some forms of racing anyway)but,I just don’t see a reason for them to be in the Olympics.There are too many events in the Olympics that already don’t belong…..shooting,ping pong,synchronized swimming,what’s next?…marbles?billiards?….two weeks of that is enough.

    What about a motorsport olmpics…racing in all classes,only motorsports,nothing else.

  6. @#22 Ben-
    and if anyone has ever watched bobsledding or luge you’ll notice technology really, really playing a role.

  7. I think Olympic motorsport would end up too much like A1GP. You’d end up with drivers nobody cares about and it would watch like the rally event in the X games: not terrible, but not really indicative of the sport.

  8. what was that Hemingway quote, something about “there are only three true sports, mountain climbing, bullfighting and motor racing – the rest are games” – ? something like that – maybe that’s why motor racing has to stay separate :) – but seriously, this idea (as part of the Olympics in some form or otherwise) has great merit, I think – even in the US where F1 has no following, NASCAR is (I think) the largest spectator sport –

  9. Martin- EH’s comment was driven (no pun intended!) by the fact that the three “sports” he cited involved serious life threatening consequences in the event of failure. Your smiley indicates that you understand that concept.

    Relative to technology playing a role in the Olympics, it’s exactly the wrong direction to take, whether in sailing, pistol shooting or swimming. It would only be ultra-magnified in auto racing. Can anyone doubt that the degree of driving success between the top ten F1 pilots is due to the car as opposed to the driver?

    Once every four years to test this difference would be a massive waste of resources and effort.

  10. @ Martin
    I think it was”boxing,bullfighting and motor racing”
    I have visited Hemingway’s old house in Key West twice and all of the photos hanging throughout the house are contain one of these three sports.

  11. Since nobody has said it yet, I will. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are really good drivers. They would represent this country well I am sure. But they are borderline has-beens and imagine what they will be in 2012? How about some up and comers? Kyle Busch is young and can drive anything. I cannot wait to here about his F1 Test for Toyota. Carl Edwards is young too. However neither one of these guys has much open wheel experience (or any?) I suggest Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Danica Patrick, or even Scott Speed to represent the USA in the 2012 Motor Sport events in London.

  12. Tony would have to fast for quite a while to squeeze his “tub” into an F1 tub!:)

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