White European men dominate the F1 driver line-up with few exceptions. However, Asian manufacturers have been in the F1 race since the beginning. Honda, Toyota, and Tata have actively participated in F1.
The 2023 Chinese GP was canceled due to Covid-19 risks and is likely to occur in Turkey or Portugal. Only three F1 drivers out of twenty are of Asian origin this year. The three Asian drivers are Alex Albon, who is competing under the Thai flag, Yuki Tsunoda from Japan, and Zhou Guanyu from China.
There is a solid fanbase for F1 in Asia, especially Japan and China. Few journalists have called Japanese F1 fans “the best F1 fans in the world.” This year Yuki is anticipating a warm welcome at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Honda first entered F1 in the 60s but dominated the sport in the 80s. Since 2015 Honda has supplied engines to the AlphaTauri team. So far, Honda has won six constructors championships and six drivers championships.
Toyota participated in F1 from 2002 to 2009 and left F1 for economic reasons. Tata sponsors Formula 1 races along with the Malaysian Proton.
Now the question arises why most F1 driver looks a certain way. Lewis Hamilton, in a statement, said, “The unchanged make-up of the F1 community throughout my career makes it feel like only a certain type of person is truly welcome in this sport, one who looks a certain way, comes from a certain background, fits a particular mold and plays by certain unwritten rules.”
Contrary to popular belief, F1 is not entirely about meritocracy. Socioeconomic background matters greatly since machinery is expensive, and most entry-level drivers can’t afford it. For example, Esteban Ocon had to sell his entire family fortune to be able to participate in the race.
Most Asian households can’t afford to spend a lot of money to qualify for the entry-level in motorsport. The culture in the F1 race needs to change since a lot of potential talent is going to waste.