Hong Kong billionaire eyes F1 entry


Calvin Lo, CEO of the world's most successful life insurance broker company, is seeking to join the F1 grid in 2026.

The 45-year-old, who is famously protective of his privacy, is believed to already be involved as his company R.E. Lee International is understood to be a 'significant' stake holder in Dorilton Capital which bought Williams in 2020.

At a time Michael Andretti, who has motorsport in his DNA, is being given short shrift by the sport's powers that be as he targets a place on the F1 grid, Lo admits that his interest in entering F1 "purely financial".

"Based on what I'm seeing right now, it's highly aspirational," Lo tells BBC Sport, "but it seems like it can be done if all the stars are aligned.

Admitting that a decision needs to be made "within a month or two", he says: "Based on the timelines, the sooner the better, right? It seems even now is a very tight timeline just to put something on the grid by 2026."

Stating that he would not be involved in the day-to-day running of the team, he says that funding the project is not "the difficult part", but rather its long-term financial viability.

"It's how long you can sustain it," he says. "In this world, finding liquidity for one or two years, relatively it's easy. But can you last for three years, five years? That's the part where the crunching of the numbers comes in.

"I look at it just like an investment," he adds. "How long do I have to amortise that cost? At what year, at what date, do we need to inject funds if it does not hit certain targets?

"And, of course, the targets must be set realistically. You cannot just go in first year and win everything. The numbers must be very conservatively managed. I think that's the tricky part."

Admitting that he already has "financial involvements in existing teams" which he refuses to identify, he insists that this was not "something I actively went out and hunted for" it "just came about" after being approached by teams wanting to "explore whether I was interested in injecting funds".

Unlike Andretti he has not yet spoken to either F1 or the FIA and therefore has not yet encountered that potential roadblock.

"We have a few parties that are trying to work with us," he reveals, "I suppose, who supposedly will help us navigate all that. I have no idea how the intricacies of the F1 world are. And I think if anything, that will be the biggest hurdle to form a new team.

"Maybe it's easier just to invest in a current team," he adds. "That's the easiest way, the foundation is set, it is already up and running."

Ignoring the old F1 adage in terms of 'how do you make small fortune from F1... start with a large fortune', Lo, who is personally worth $1.7bn, is clearly enticed by the sport's current "boom".

"F1 has changed from previous generations," he says. "Now it is much younger; the fan-base is much bigger, much wider. Social media is a big thing now.

"The idea of the accessibility to the teams, drivers; it may not be actual discussions with the fans but it just makes it feel much closer. The audience is much broader now than 20 years ago."

With more and more sports, including IndyCar, now realising the impact a series like Drive to Survive can have and now opting for their own versions, it's going to be worth seeing how F1 is going to retain its newly-won fan-base, a fan-base that was largely won over during the lockdowns.

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Published: 13/12/2022
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