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Formula One doesn’t need an 11th team, says motorsport expert Matthew Marsh at the FCC

Mid-September’s Singapore Grand Prix resulted in Max Verstappen of the dominating Red Bull Team being dethroned by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. Then just a week later, Verstappen redeemed himself by coming in first at the Suzuka Grand Prix.

These neck-and-neck outcomes have revived fan and expert optimism that Formula One can still be just as exciting and unpredictable as other mainstream sports.

Matthew Marsh is one of those experts. He covered F1 in Asia for ESPN and FOX Sports for over 20 years and was the first driver to represent Hong Kong in the Le Mans 24-Hours. Now he focuses on commercial partnerships in F1, as well as cross-series events in Formula E, Indycar, and NASCAR.

Matthew Marsh. Photo: FCC

To share his insider thoughts about the recent races, as well as other key aspects about F1, Marsh sat down at the FCC’s September 26 Club Lunch with Second Vice President Tim Huxley. The duo began their discussion with Red Bull’s dominance and how they have been able to stay on top throughout the years.

“If you rewind the clock, in those years of Mercedes dominance, Red Bull still won two or three races a year with a sub-optimal power unit,” Marsh said. “Now they’ve got an equal — at least equal — power unit. They’re dominating again as they were in the Sebastian Vettel years.”

Huxley then asked Marsh about who he finds to be the current “winners” and “losers” in F1 racing. For winners, Marsh listed Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, and Oscar Piastri, who have all placed in the top ten at the last two races.

For losers, one name came to Marsh’s mind: Sergio Perez, who DNF’d at the most recent Suzuka Grand Prix. He cited mistakes that Perez has made, mistakes that other drivers wouldn’t make — or would intentionally make at critical moments while driving.

For the rookie drivers, Marsh thinks there’s a fundamental issue. 

“I still think we have a problem that Formula One testing is so restricted,” Marsh said. “There are so few days now — for cost-cutting reasons, I understand that — but that does mean that young drivers never really get a chance to hone their skills. These cars are super complicated.”

Huxley and Marsh also debated the idea of introducing more F1 teams to the sport, an idea that Marsh finds completely unnecessary.

Matthew Marsh and Tim Huxley. Photo: FCC

“We’ve got 10 teams, how many do we need? This is the Champions League of motorsport. There are no crap teams in Formula One. There are no crap drivers. There used to be both crap teams —  they would die — and there used to be crap drivers. They’re no more,” he said.

Marsh went on to explain how additional teams would dampen F1’s efforts to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, efforts that aren’t well-known across newcomer and seasoned fans.

“If we went to a Grand Prix, I bet that less than 10-percent of the people in the grandstand, depending on the Grand Prix, would actually know the cars are hybrid,” he said.

He clarified that although this is a sport using motor vehicles, only one percent of F1’s carbon footprint is coming from the racecars going around the track. The remaining 99-percent of the carbon footprint comes from the logistics and travel arrangements, factors that all sports must take into consideration. 

“An 11th team adds 10-percent to the carbon footprint… So why would F1 want to do that? I don’t see any upside,” Marsh said.

When it comes to F1 in Asia, Huxley posed an important question: Is Asia being neglected in F1’s efforts to expand their business? He listed a series of Asian countries which have fallen off the F1 calendar — India, Malaysia, South Korea, and Vietnam.

In his reply, Marsh pointed out Singapore as a model F1 location that other countries can learn from, especially in regards to hospitality and improving fan and athletes’ overall experience.

“It is a two-way street. The reason that Singapore has been successful is that Singapore saw the value of being on the F1 calendar,” he said.

Marsh compared F1 in Singapore to races in Shanghai, a location he still likes but also finds himself questioning due to the city’s seemingly lack of amenities and thoughtfulness in putting on a Grand Prix, all of which Singapore takes into great consideration for their events.

Another important note about Singapore’s involvement with F1 is their official sponsorship with the sport, which he recommends all host cities enact in order to reap the full range of benefits and overall race experience.

“If you’re going to spend 30 million dollars a year on hosting a Grand Prix, then why don’t you spend another two or three on top to activate it properly?” he said.

Watch the full talk on our YouTube channel below:

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