The head of British motorsport’s governing body believes that the United Kingdom must take a lead on helping racing successfully advance from the coronavirus crisis.
In an exclusive interview as part of Autosport’s #thinkingforward series, Motorsport UK chairman David Richards said it is the country’s responsibility to set the agenda for when motorsport resumes following its current hiatus, and that he and CEO Hugh Chambers are already working to that effect.
“We obviously have close contact with Jean [Todt, FIA president] and Peter Bayer, the secretary general of the FIA, and Hugh’s regularly in contact with the ASN taskforce, which he is one of the members of, so we have regular contact with everybody,” said Richards.
“But we have a responsibility in this country – we have been for many years the leading light in motorsport worldwide.
“We’ve got a thriving industry, we’ve got thriving participation, and we’ve got a responsibility that comes with that as well.
“So our duty is to take a lead and I think some of the things we’ve been doing recently have shown that we’re prepared to do that as well.
“So over the coming months, the next 12 months, the next couple of years, you can expect to see more policies coming out of Motorsport UK, more initiatives coming out which I hope will be taken up by the FIA and other ASNs around the world.”
Richards added that motorsport needs to re-evaluate itself and become more relevant, arguing that it has ‘drifted away’ from its purpose in the name of entertainment.
“Motorsport historically over the last 100 years has led the way in so many different areas,” he said.
“It’s led the way in developing new technologies for car manufacturers, it’s acted as a wonderful marketing platform for car manufacturers, it’s had a lot of relevance and interest from young people from a whole raft of different aspects, and we’ve drifted away from that.
“In the last decade, and perhaps the last 20 years, at the senior level of the sport, the focus has become around entertainment and less so about driving forward with technology advances.
“Now, there are exceptions to this, but we’ve got to find ways of making ourselves more relevant so that car manufacturers see a rationale for being part of motorsport and supporting motorsport – Formula E’s a good example, with the number of car manufacturers there as opposed to other categories of motorsport.”
Motorsport UK has also been active in encouraging youngsters into the sport, via initiatives such as its support for F1 in Schools, Formula Student and the Greenpower Education Trust, and Richards sees this as crucial to the sport thriving in the future.
“We’ve got to make ourselves more relevant to young people and look at how we can engage with universities and schools to make mathematics and science subjects come alive through the means of motorsport – not too difficult, and something we’re actively pursuing at Motorsport UK,” he said.
“And we’ve got to make ourselves relevant in society’s terms – if we are viewed just as a group of people who like to go round and round in circles, burning rubber and fossil fuels, we will be ostracised.
“We have to make ourselves far more appropriate to the times and far more relevant to the countries and society we live in, and that’s one of the challenges we face as a governing body, to try and help and instigate and facilitate that at the moment, so that’s a real challenge we’re going to come back with after this period.”
Published at Mon, 20 Apr 2020 15:29:30 +0000