Craig Pollock returns: who is the big man behind Formula Equal?

F1 News

Portrait of Chraig Pollock, founder of Formula Equal
28 March at 17:55

It really shouldn't come as a big surprise. His LinkedIn page reveals that Craig Pollock has been working as chief executive officer of a company called Formula Equal (F=) since January 2018. Since Tuesday afternoon, it has been clear what the aim of this company is: to start a new Formula 1 team, which is to be at the start of Grands Prix in 2026.

Pollock is not a multi-millionaire looking for a toy and entering Formula 1 to do so. Instead, the English businessman needs external investors to get his remarkable plan off the ground: a new team, 50 per cent male and 50 per cent female. This also applies to the driver duo, by the way, which makes the whole idea both interesting and complicated.

No fantasist

A Gulf state - a region where women's rights are not priority number one - seems willing to contribute financially, is Pollock's story. Moreover, his team would be based in that country. Perhaps the outside world sees the project as doomed to failure. Fanfare. But what the past has shown: Pollock is anything but a fantasist. In a grey past, in his capacity as co-founder of F1 team BAR, he even managed to entice Honda to return to Formula One.

Craig Pollock's life story reads like an exciting book. As a teacher in the late 1970s, he was attached to College Beausoleil, an extremely expensive boarding school in Switzerland. There, Pollock - by now promoted to director of the sports department - met a young Jacques Villeneuve. The Canadian had been sent to the mountain town after the death of his father, F1 driver Gilles.

Running into him by chance

After leaving school, Villeneuve started a professional racing career, which did not go well in the early years. By chance, at Suzuka in Japan, he met his former teacher Pollock, there for a business meeting with Honda. The pair got talking and Villeneuve - remembering how well he got along with Pollock in Switzerland - asked the Englishman to help him revive his career. Pollock became the Canadian's manager, something he remained until 2008.

With Villeneuve - who got his career back on track - Pollock reached Formula 1. Indeed, Villeneuve became the first and only world champion Canada ever fronted. That opened doors, including for Pollock. A lot of doors. That's how he got in to British America Tobacco, which he successfully convinced to invest in a Formula One team. That became BAR (formerly Tyrrell), for which Villeneuve went on to drive. Pollock later sold BAR to Honda. The team is now Mercedes.

One advantage to F1 adventure

Not everything Pollock touches turns to gold, by the way. In mid-2011, he started the company PURE, which was to supply engines to Formula 1 teams as an independent supplier. Due to financial problems, the plans did not get off the ground, although Pollock retained intellectual property rights to the engines. Since then, the engines of Formula 1 cars have changed considerably, but the knowledge gained does offer the businessman an advantage in his bid to join the F1 grid.

In recent years, Pollock has not been visibly active in racing. So while he was working on F= in the wings, he joined an investment company in Monaco as a partner. A role in the lee. That period is now over, as Pollock gears up for an equally unexpected and spectacular return to the paddock.