Earlier this week some rumours appeared to me that a Hong Kong based Billionaire is looking to enter the Formula One. His name is Calvin Lo and, according to Wikipedia, R.E. Lee International, the world’s largest and considered as the most successful life insurance broker company. So far the background. I was triggered today as website has started to publish articles regarding his plans, or wish, to enter the Formula One.
With the rumoured entries of Panthera Team Asia F1, Monaco F1 and Prema for 2022 fresh in my mind, I’m not sure what to think about this one. Especially if you look at the Panthera story. They were convinced they would appear on the grid in 2022 or 2023. The team had no socials neither a logo to start with (which I addressed before). How can you be serious then with willing to enter the Formula One to start with? I mean you want to tease the fans right? Maybe I don’t understand it, that could also be the case of course.
Anyway as stated, earlier this week I already heard the rumours regarding Calvin Lo. Will he bring Hong Kong, more or less, back on the grid? We used to have Theodore on the grid in the 70s and 80s. Anyway, first some history as I like to educate you all properly instead of clickbait for just clicks.
The older visitors on my website probably remember the Theodore Racing team that was based in Hong Kong. Established by real estate magnate Teddy Yip who happened to speak many languages. Yip himself was an amateur racer in the 1960s and 1970s. Around the famous Macau Grand Prix in 1972, it seems that Teddy met Sid Taylor. Who convinced Yip to sponsor Austrian Vern Schuppan in the Formula 5000. In 1974, Yip would also sponsor Vern in the Formula One. He would appear in seven races for the team. He continued sponsoring Vern and eventually Alan Jones in America.
Eventually in 1976, Yip established Theodore Racing. In 1977, the team would appear on the grid in the Formula One with an Ensign N177. Patrick Tambay would score in three Grand Prix points! For 1977, Yip contracted Ron Tauranc to build a F1 car. The Theodore TR1 was far from a success, besides the victory at BRDC International Trophy. Keke Rosberg won that race for the team.
In 1979 and 1980, the team did not appear on the grid. Yip decided to fund the Ensign team and to purchase the ill faded Shadow team. After the debacle with the Shadow team, the decision was made to bring Theodore Racing back to life. Tony Southgate was attracted as designed, while Jo Ramirez would lead the team. The TY01 debuted in 1981 and was decent. However, due to the Turbo era there was basically no place on the grid for teams as Theodore. He merged with Ensign. Though eventually abandoned the Formula One. So far the story of Theordore Racing in a nutshell.
Back to November 2022 where Calvin Lo is interested to appear in the grid in 2026 or perhaps sooner. He said that he does not want involvement in the team as in the form of Team manager. Neither does he feel the need to bring an all Asian team on the grid. I know many websites have published the same story, though I believe that Calvin Lo has five options for the Formula One.
Option 1 Williams
Currently via one of his vehicles he is already involved with the Formula One. I’m not completely sure how this construction works. Though I believe he is financially backing the team. The ties are already there. If he really wants to enter the Formula One in an early stage the possibility is to simply take over the Williams team, and eventually rebrand it if he want’s to call it Lo Racing or what ever.
Option 2 Another team
Another option is of course is to invest in another team on the grid, for example Aston Martin or even Haas. Those are, I think, the current teams that could use some extra investments. Perhaps Aston Martin would be even a better option is basically a car manufacturer. As Calvin Lo seems to like cars a lot, according to articles.
Option 3 Enter the Formula One in 2026
We should not forget that an entry in 2026 is also one of the possibilities. A new engine will appear in that year as well, will there be more changes in the Formula One. The only problem could be, is that there is still the entry fee of 200million dollar. Well Calvin Lo seems to have the money it is still a lot. Another issue could be to setup the team and it’s infrastructure. He said in several media outlets he was not looking to come with an all Asian team. The team would probably have it’s HQ in England though Hong Kong would be nicer.
Option 4 Enter the Formula in 2026 with Andretti
Yes, I know, why are you thinking this? Well simple. Andretti is trying to enter the Formula One now. The first news about their plans already appeared in late 2019, if I’m not mistaking. Their plans are solid, they already have the infrastructure, and I don’t see why this would not work to start with.
Option 5 There won’t be a team
Well, there is also still the case that Calvin Lo might only sponsor a team and does not take it over. Or does not start a brand new team in the Formula One. Why see I this as an option? Simply, look at the groups/teams that were interested to enter the F1 the last ten years. We saw none of them, besides Haas.
Though I truly hope that Calvin Lo decides to get more involved with the Formula One and in one or another way invests in a f1 team. I still believe that the Formula One needs more than 10 teams on the grid. Eleven or Twelve would be the perfect amount of teams on the grid.