Calvin Lo wants to enter F1 with Asian team: 'Money is not the problem'

Calvin Lo wants to enter F1 with Asian team: 'Money is not the problem'

07-01-2023 18:00 Last update: 19:24

Michael Andretti managed to get all the spotlight on himself last week. Through the partnership with Cadillac, Andretti's entry into Formula 1 is much closer. The American is certainly not the only one with ambitious plans in the world's premier motorsport class. Hong Kong investor Calvin Lo also wants to join Formula 1.

Lo - whose wealth is estimated at $1.7 billion - is a hard worker for good reason. His schedule is so full that an interview cannot take place until 11pm Hong Kong time. Where others are happy to go to bed at the end of a long working day, Lo is bursting with energy at that time. Enthusiastically, he tells GPBlog exclusively about his plans, which are more realistic than some may think.

More than driving laps

In the Formula 1 world, Lo is unknown, although he reportedly has close ties with the Williams team. He prefers not to talk about that. He makes no secret of the fact that he has been a great lover of the sport for many years. A passion that goes back to the days of Michael Schumacher in Ferrari. "When I was as a little boy, I just see cars going around," Lo says. "But I really didn't appreciate it until the Schumacher era started to kick in. He himself, of course, is a legend. I think the bit that got me is the back story, the strategies, the last minute thinking. Those things are really the part that really got me as I go into my business, I appreciate that much more." 

Such is his love for Formula 1 that Lo is exploring the possibilities of appearing on the grid with his own team. His role is purely that of investor, 'because I am not as brilliant as the guys in the pitlane'. Therefore, Lo has enlisted the help of a group of intermediaries, who are currently casting all kinds of lines with potential partners, stakeholders and, of course, the FIA and FOM.

"I think there's a lot more than I originally thought. But the reality is that we have narrowed it down as to how realistic it is. And more importantly, once if you do get in, how long can you sustain it before something happens. And I think that's the concern for an investor, potential investor and for the current teams," he added. 


According to Lo, starting up a Formula One team is not difficult. Moreover, he says: "Money is not the problem." Lo mainly looks at the medium term: what happens if performance is disappointing? If the number of sponsors is unexpectedly limited? If little prize money comes in? Learning from what happened to other, now toppled teams in the past, Lo wants to avoid the team being bankrupt and having to close its doors after about three years.

This is precisely a point why the current teams are reluctant to let in new teams. Lo understands the scepticism. "I understand the current concerns and I think the team, the intermediaries that we use are trying to address these issues."

The intermediaries Lo has engaged also liaise with the FIA. The latter announced last week that it is open to new teams on the grid. "I personally think there's always an opportunity for a new team to come in. I really think like despite what we hear, what we know of the F1 world, I mean, if anyone makes a good enough case to convince all players involved that it's worthwhile. I don't think the rules are hard and fast. But I think that everyone must make a good enough case so that it doesn't deplete the current teams but it also makes sense for new players to come in. So the announcement, of course, is great."

New market

In the United States, Formula 1's popularity has grown significantly. An American team like Andretti Cadillac could boost F1 in the country. An Asian team could do the same for Asia. "I think Asia is an under serviced market for F1 and there's a huge growing amount of interest coming up. But again, you know, the US is a prime example of last, I don't know, five, ten years has literally shot up the interest. And I definitely see Asia as one of those markets that could go almost straight up. But once again, how can we translate all that to the current teams right now? So we can make a decent proposal for all players involved. That it makes sense that the pie is actually bigger and not depleting the same pie that they right now have."

Lo says that, on the contrary, revenues grow for everyone when new markets are tapped into. Still, the Lo team's factory will basically be in Europe, 'because the talent is in Europe'. "I think the intermediaries are trying to gather the appropriate people. Like I said, I wish I could tell you more, but, I mean, what I'm going through now is just literally crunching numbers. Yeah, just making sure that it makes sense."


An engine supplier is also already being considered. An Asian carmaker like Hyundai or Honda is the obvious choice. "Well, I think we cannot dismiss Asian car manufacturers right now. Of course, the typical ones like Toyota, Honda. Those are big ones and they have lots of experience. But I think those big names also are exploring, doing the crunching of the numbers, making sure it makes sense because it's also a branding. It's great to be in F1, great branding, but if you don't perform well, it's it works against you."

In any case, if the Formula 1 project gets off the ground, Lo will not become a team boss. "No, definitely not. I could tell you for sure. If I do get in, my capacity is limited to the finance part as an investor, I love to attend. I love to go watch, but I'll probably just be sitting in the corner, watching it with my daughter."