The Superleague Formula is just plain confusing
As a sports fan and a journalist, my allegiance is often split between motorsport and soccer, especially come Sunday nights. There isn’t much in common between the two, aside from the vast amounts of money involved.
But now there is a new motorsport open wheel category promising to unite the world of motorsport and football – the Superleague Formula.
Drivers compete in identical machines representing football clubs from around the world including giants such as Liverpool and AC Milan, along with lesser-known clubs like Beijing Guoan and Al Ain.
After years of doubts about the series even reaching the racetrack, the first ever round was held this past weekend at Donington Park in the UK, with evidence suggesting that there is little to sway fans from either the motorsport or soccer world.
Fifteen clubs competed, with Beijing Guoan and Sevilla FC sharing the wins.
But the weekend was plagued by unreliability and curiously the race was staged at the same time as some of the clubs involved, such as Tottenham, Rangers and Liverpool – all playing crucial league games.
It was also held on the same weekend as two other major motorsport meetings in the same country.
While the sound and look of the cars impressed, it is the motivations and platform of the series that has raised doubts.
What is the point of the series?
Will the crossover between sports attract fans from soccer and motorsport? Did they honestly expect Rangers fans to switch off their Old Firm derby match against Celtic to watch a motorsport race?
Soccer fans are not always motorsport fans and vice versa, so what suggests they will be tempted to watch a sport they have no interest in just because their club is involved.
As a Liverpool fan, I was more concerned about a Gerrard-less Reds avoiding an away defeat to Aston Villa than the exploits of a Spanish driver racing in Liverpool colours.
Had he won the race, it would not get the club any closer to an elusive Premier League title.
The past few years has seen a proliferation of open wheel categories.
One of those, A1 Grand Prix, has a wider appeal with drivers competing for their countries during the traditional motorsport off-season for the World Cup of Motorsport.
Unlike in A1 Grand Prix, teams do not have to field drivers from their respective nation.
So an Italian competed for Beijing, a Dutchman for AC Milan, and a Spaniard for Liverpool. Given the current make up of the Liverpool team, this is probably more representative than if an Englishman was driving.
As a motorsort fan, what I enjoy about soccer is the traditions and stability in competitions. From the FA Cup to dramas of the Premier League, there is little change each year.
Motorsport is different.
Commercial considerations have a wider impact on the sport, which is why it can be so confusing for non-fans.
Unlike in soccer, there is no clear ladder in divisions to the top.
A multitude of categories exist from A1 GP, GP2, Formula 3, Formula BMW, Formula Ford, World Series by Renault and so on, and the differences between them all are many and varied.
Now the Superleague Formula can be added to that list to further confuse fans with a tenuous link between two sports.
Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.
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