Formula One often feels like a minor motorsport in the US, at least behind NASCAR or even sometimes IndyCar if you ask Joe Public. But if you think America has it bad, wait till you hear what F1 is really like in South Korea.
The excellent website F1Fanatic recently posted this first-hand account of what it's like to be an F1 fan in South Korea and how unbelievably inattentive people are over there to the sport.
It is frustrating living in a city which hosts an F1 race and next to no locals share any interest whatsoever. My colleagues, care next to nothing about the race even though we work just next to the track. I completely understand that F1 is new to Korea and motorsport in general is foreign, however, when your country is hosting an international sporting event, one expects to see the media promoting it as much as possible over a period of time – we’ve been living here for two years now and we can say that no coverage is given.
The expatriate living in South Korea goes on to explain that he and his wife have been to the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix and comparing them to the Korean GP "is like comparing chalk and cheese."
He describes what it was like to actually show up for the race weekend in Yeongam, five hours from Seoul by high speed train. Remember, this is the fourth year that F1 has been in Korea.
Today we attended second practice. There is clear, for lack of a better word, absence of effort by the organizers. There was a lack of signage resulting in several different people directing us to the main grandstand in completely opposite directions. There is virtually no team merchandise on offer, despite a plethora of track merchandise. This is because locals still do not know who the drivers and teams are after four years. For example, when asking for a Kimi Raikkonen T-shirt, we were met with blank stares.
It gets worse.
[T]hey are unaware that Yeongam is one of many F1 races in a championship year – they see this as a once-off Korean event.
In short, he describes the Korean GP as something that none of the locals care about in the slightest, and that it would be "a hellish experience" for any visiting non-Korean F1 fan, thanks to no acceptable accommodation near the track, and very poor signage that's laregly in Korean.
So if you think you have it bad here in America when it comes to F1, be thankful you're not in South Korea.
Photo Credit: AP - (lack of) spectators during second practice pictured at top, Getty Images - mostly empty stands during race pictured below