Potential future F1 boss Calvin Lo has spoken of his huge admiration for both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
The chief executive of R.E Lee Octagon has ambitious plans to enter his own Asian team into the sport in 2026. And assessing the current landscape of the sport and drivers on the grid, the Hong Kong billionaire businessman was full of praise for the Mercedes legend and reigning champion.
In 2021, the two drivers engaged in arguably the greatest title fight in the history of the sport, which went right down to the wire. And after a year of Red Bull dominance, there are hopes 2023 could see another great title battle between the rivals.
“I really admire people like Lewis Hamilton, you know, too Max Verstappen. I mean, they’re very different, right? But I mean, they also make the whole show incredible with their talent,” said Lo to GPblog, who also states that he greatly enjoys the increasing battle in the middle of the pack.
“But like, for example, last year the focus was may not be in the top teams, maybe the second tier. So like lower mid grid and it was so exciting, right?”
With an estimated net worth of £1.4 billion, Lee claimed any role he would assume in the sport would be strictly financial. He would not be involved in the everyday running of any team he sets up, but would be focused on its sustainability.
“It’s how long you can sustain it,” he said. “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 that the crunching of the numbers comes in. I look at it just like an investment. 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.” While Lo would like to run his own team, he has not ruled out the possibility of buying into an existing one, with plans to make his decision in the next couple of months.
“Based on the timelines, the sooner the better, right?” Lo said. “It seems even now is a very tight timeline just to put something on the grid by 2026.”
It is proving rather challenging for new teams to break into F1, especially with a major hurdle such as paying $200m (£164m) into a “dilution fund” to compensate for the existing teams. They’d acquire less funds from the prize money pot which would be split with one extra team.
The sport is also reluctant to accept any new teams because of concern as to whether they would have a positive impact and achieve suitable levels of competitiveness, something Mario and Michael Andretti have struggled with.
Lo said he was aware of the barriers to F1 entry, adding: “We have a few parties that are trying to work with us, 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. That’s the easiest way – the foundation is set, it is already up and running.”