Boycotting Every Race On the 2015 Formula One Calendar

Jim Yu
by Jim Yu
boycotting every race on the 2015 formula one calendar

Disclosure: I love Formula One. At least a dozen times every year, I inadvertently wake up my wife and dog at 4:30 in the morning (Pacific time) as I yelp wildly in the living room and watch the live race feed.

As a left-of-center F1 fan, three issues gnaw at me. One, the sport is perceived as elitist. One Percenters(tm) own the teams, pack the hospitality suites at races, and park their mega-yachts next to race tracks. Two, a lot of fuel is used to fly the cars, the equipment, and crews all over the world, from Singapore to Austin.

But what really irks me is the politics. Emerging economies, oftentimes with authoritarian regimes, pay tens of millions to have the privilege to host a race. And F1, as a business, has no problem taking the money.

Sometimes, the host country’s government is so brutal, a boycott is called. But do boycotts work? What is their purpose? Their goal? Where do you draw the line? How do you compare a violent regime that oppresses its small population with a large democracy that has violated the privacy rights of millions?

I have put together a list of all the 2015 venues and come up with reasons (some legitimate, some tongue-in-cheek) to boycott their races. Let us know in the comments whether you think boycotting is an empty gesture or a collective (and effective) statement against a universal wrong. And finally, is not boycotting a political statement as well?

Red Zone:


  • Gross gross polluter.
  • Oppression of Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
  • Lack of press freedom.



  • Lack of LGBT rights.
  • Ukraine.
  • Assassination of political opponents and journalists.
  • Kuril Islands (if you are a Japanese nationalist with a long memory).

Yellow Zone:


  • Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim serving 5-year prison term…for sodomy. That’s one way of snuffing out dissent.

United States

  • Use of drones for extrajudicial killings in Yemen and Pakistan.
  • NSA eavesdropping.
  • Guantanamo.


  • Narco-violence everywhere.
  • Corruption everywhere.

Green Zone:


  • Asylum policy (directing boat people to Nauru and Papua New Guinea).
  • Draconian Bathurst racetrack policy, limiting each visitor to 24 cans of regular beer or 36 cans of light beer per day.
  • Daring to boot Bart Simpson, a minor.


  • Spanish Inquisition.


  • It’s a monarchy.


  • Justin Bieber.


  • I can’t find anything wrong with Austria.

Great Britain


  • The Greeks don’t seem to like Germans.
  • BMW’s insanely and needlessly complicated current model line-up.


  • Pro-Russian government.



  • Less-than-robust care of African boat people.



  • Has not properly apologized to China and Korea for World War II (if you are Chinese or Korean).


  • Rampant, uncontrolled gold mining along Brazil-French Guiana-Suriname borders.

Abu Dhabi/United Arab Emirates

As for me, I have boycotted the Bahrain and Russian Grand Prix. Once, I accidentally watched the Bahrain Grand Prix. I atoned myself by making a donation to Human Rights Watch.

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2 of 56 comments
  • Tjh8402 Tjh8402 on Mar 17, 2015

    There's no way USA deserves to be ranked worse than the UAE, especially WRT to LGBTQ rights. Any sex outside of marriage, including all homosexual acts, are illegal. According to a Washington Post article, it is possible that federal law actually would allow for the death penalty for same sex partnerships (they said "lawyers in the country and other experts disagree on whether federal law proscribes the death penalty for consensual homosexual sex or only for rape"). HRW also lists torture (not debatable torture like the US but actual beating and electric shocks torture), no political freedoms, and other issues. As for me, I watch them all. I wish F1 didn't race in countries like Russia (to me, the worst offender on the list) and would certainly support them doing to certain countries what was done to South Africa, but it's not like my refusal to watch a sport that I love on DVR fast forwarding through commercials is going to hurt Bernie's pocketbook or the pride of those hosting the race. If anything, they'd probably rather that f*ggots like me stay as far away as possible, lest our gayness contaminate the illustrious event.

  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Mar 21, 2015

    I quit watching F1 about a year ago. It had become quite boring and I'd become increasingly aware of the degree to which it is a staged entertainment show. Also the preponderance of sponsorship by industries that really aren't doing much good for the planet. At the same time, tv networks began televising increasing amounts of professional bicycle racing. The bike races are vastly more complex than F1 (except for the technology), the sponsors are less offensive, it is far more of a person-to-person physical and mental competition, and watching the television coverage is like being a virtual tourist in the locations visited. It does have the same problem as F1 related to hosting races in countries of questionable politics. I look forward to seeing Formula e broadcasts.

  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.
  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.
  • Mike Beranek Funny story about the '80 T-bird. My old man's Dart Sport had given up the ghost so he was car-shopping. He & I dropped my mom at a store and then went to the Ford dealer, where we test-drove the new T-Bird (with digital dash!)So we pull up to the store to pick mom up. She walks out and dad says "We just bought it.". Mom stares at the Mulroney- almost 13 grand- and just about fell over.Dad had not in fact bought the T-Bird, instead he got a Cordoba for only 9 grand.
  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 I'd love a well preserved Mark VII LSC with the HO 5.0 for a weekend cruiser. Its design aged better than both the VI and VIII. Although I'd gladly take the latter as well (quad cam V8 and wrap around interior FTW)