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Hong Kong doesn’t need a Formula One race, says motorsport expert Matthew Marsh

With Netflix’s Drive to Survive series fuelling a huge rise in the global popularity of Formula One and off-track controversies crashing the mainstream headlines, Formula One has seen plenty of action, even if one driver continued to dominate the early races.

To discuss the current state of F1 and the year ahead, motorsport expert and former champion driver Matthew Marsh spoke alongside Second Vice President Tim Huxley at the FCC, otherwise known as the “home of informed debate and witty banter” as described by Huxley himself.

The duo began their talk by first addressing the recent headlines surrounding Christian Horner, Team Principal of World Champions Red Bull, who in early February was under investigation for alleged misconduct with a female colleague. Marsh’s take was that the details aren’t clear, leading mainstream news organisations to publish stories that don’t truly inform readers of what’s going on.

Matthew Marsh, left, and Tim Huxley, right. Photo: FCC

“The daily newspapers do the scandal stuff, but they’re not actually really able to reveal anything specific because what are the specifics of the case with Christian? We don’t actually know,” he said.

Marsh explained that media that specialise in F1 coverage can better cover these types of scandals and that their knowledge of cases like Horner’s prevents them from ostracising leading figures in motorsport.

“The point is the specialist media know the details – I believe – because that’s why they haven’t thrown him ‘under the bus’,” Marsh clarified.

Horner was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing after Red Bull completed an internal investigation in late February.

Marsh also reflected on comments he made at his last FCC talk in September 2023 when he objected to the idea of F1 introducing an 11th team. Back then he didn’t think such a move was necessary and would perhaps dilute the professional nature of the sport, but now he is reconsidering.

“My mind has changed. It’s not so much that we need it, I just think it might be good,” he said.

Cadillac entering F1 and the addition of an estimated 1,200 jobs were a couple of reasons that Marsh cited for his change of mind, but he stopped short of supporting a second tier of F1 drivers. Given F1’s tight schedule, a second tier might not fit and could exacerbate current problems that Marsh has identified, like not enough racecar testing for less experienced drivers.

“Can we just have testing?” Marsh asked rhetorically.

Matthew Marsh. Photo: FCC

He also reminded the audience of other equally exciting and professional motorsport series: Formula E, Indycar, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and Le Mans – the last of which Marsh himself raced in as the first Hong Kong driver to compete in the 24-hour classic 2007.

“Indycar is amazing racing and that could be called a second-tier F1,” Marsh added.

Marsh also shot down the suggestion of Hong Kong becoming an F1 destination in order to increase tourism and boost the local economy.

“Hong Kong is a different city in a different position in time,” Marsh began. “If I was giving advice, my advice would be, ‘Shut up and leave us alone.’”

In 2024 the Hong Kong government announced a new set of tourism initiatives, including a series of “mega events” scheduled for the second half of the year, collaborations with social media influencers, and even drone shows above Victoria Harbour.

“I don’t think Hong Kong is a tourist destination. People come here – and sometimes on holiday – but if Hong Kong becomes a tourist destination, we’ve lost. We ain’t Phuket. So we should be left alone to get on with business and we need people to stop talking every day and let us get back to business. Agreed?”

Watch the full talk on our YouTube channel below:

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