What's in a Name?: Why National Teams Should Stay Out of Formula One

Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IFebruary 17, 2009

First it was Force India, with Vijay Mallya using the slogan "the force of a billion hearts," now it is USF1 planning to be an all-American team, led by Australian Peter Windsor!

Formula One has been seen as a sport that is border-free and any politics are within, not without. So why should two Formula One teams have nationalities?

I wrote before that people of many colours and stripes cheer for teams in countries to which they have no connection whatsoever. I'm not Italian and I cheer for Ferrari, as well as many of the drivers on the grid, none of whom I have any link to in terms of nationality.

This is not to say that I agree with the status quo. The sport is always evolving and always making new inroads.

However, adding national teams to the grid creates a sort of alienation for both fans and sponsors. From the fan's perspective, one can ask why they cheer for that particular team if this country has a bad policy in one aspect or another?

It creates a discussion with a possible political discourse in a sport where politics has been mostly absent, and for good reason too.

From the perspective of a sponsor, it could have anything to do with the fact that they do not want to be seen overtly putting their money into a team where the rival company is based or a whole host of other reasons that can include politics.

Now I don't have anything against having an American or Indian Formula One team at all, but naming the team after a country in this day and age does not ring well especially in light of conflicts caused simply by nationality.

I, along with many others would agree that changing the name of Force India to something like Kingfisher F1 or some other nationality-neutral name would bring about more fans who may not have had a connection at all with India, but like them for some aspect like the fact that they're underdogs.

Perhaps if the teams took another approach of being named by the team's founder like Williams F1 is or have a car company (which I doubt anyone would do in this current economic climate) create their own operation, this will keep Formula One as a nationality-neutral sport and one where fans the world over can continue to enjoy without the inherent discussions about this country or that country.

This is Formula One, keep the nationalities in A1GP: the World Cup of motorsport!