Drafting the Circuits

Formula 1 Report

A Race For Animals!

By Steve Aibel


In an off week, we can venture outside the pits and paddock and take a look at some things away from the racetrack!

Each country visited by the Formula 1 series brings a different global taste to the palate. The specific culture and unique civilization makes each race a demonstration of national and civic pride. Many of the countries host a Formula 1 race to bring the world spotlight to their own marvelous home. For one week, the world focuses on the unique and interesting features of the host country.

There is a lot to learn if you venture outside the track.

Where is the country?

What are the people like who live there?

What challenges do they face as a nation?

One question I like to ask is what animals live in the host nation and what perils do they face?

More importantly, what can I do about it?

The first and most important thing each one of us can do is learn!

Many animals call each host country home and each species face environmental challenges that can only be solved by caring people who bring these issues to the light. Formula 1, with an enormous global platform, can bring attention to the needs of many of these animals simply by broadcasting the race and showcasing the country. Formula 1 at its essence is made up of real people who like the rest of us, simply love animals

Did anyone know that James Hunt raised budgies? Oh yes, James cared for over 300 parakeets.

James Hunt and his Parakeets or Budgies

James Hunt and his Parakeets or Budgies

And what about Lewis Hamilton! Well, he walked the red carpet with his bulldog Roscoe and has a huge affinity for his pups.

Lewis Hamilton and Roscoe

Lewis Hamilton and Roscoe

And Formula 1 announcer Lee McKenzie is a spokeswoman and patron for World Horse Welfare. She has been an equestrian her whole life.


Lee McKenzie advocates for horses

Lee McKenzie advocates for horses

It is not hard to find F1 personalities who speak passionately about the well being of animals. Everyone seems to have a soft spot for the animals with which we share the globe.

With a world increasingly industrialized and impacted by human development, we can easily state that we are all in “A Race For Animals!”

So lets take a look at some of the native species that call home the countries seen in the first four flyaway races.

Formula 1 blasted off down under in Australia. Australia is known for many exotic and interesting species of animals such as kangaroos and koala bears.

Sebastian Vettel with his kangaroo friends

Sebastian Vettel with his kangaroo friends

But perhaps the most famous animal found in offshore waters around Australia is the great white shark. Greg Norman, the Australian golfer, brought attention to this animal and divers around the world come to Australia to dive with this apex predator in the ocean.

Great White Shark Information

But sharks around the world face many dangers placed upon them by people. Sharks every day are killed in fishing nets and millions die each year as by-catch to commercial fishery operations. Shark fin soup is in demand and the brutal practice of chopping off shark fins and throwing them back into the ocean results in needless death for too many sharks.

Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Large sharks, like the great white, have declined in number significantly and since they take a long time to reproduce, overall numbers of shark species are decreasing at an alarming rate.   People are inevitably scared of sharks, but the truth is, the chance being killed by lightning is 30 times greater than being killed by a shark.

As the series moves from Australia to Malaysia, we move into a jungle climate that is home to tigers and the majestic elephant. I was frankly surprised to learn that Malaysia was home to such an exotic group of wild animals. It is the elephant that we will focus on here.

Malaysia is home to the Borneo Pygmy elephant, the smallest subspecies of Asian elephant. Less than 1500 of these elephants now call Malaysia and Borneo home. Deforestation and massive clearing of rainforests is the biggest threat to these majestic animals in Asia, but their counterparts in Africa also face threats.

The smallest elephant in the world resides in Malaysia

The smallest elephant in the world resides in Malaysia

In Africa, 96 elephants are killed every day. EVERY DAY, they are killed for their ivory. Although commercial trade of ivory has been banned worldwide, poachers and smuggling gangs bring tons of illegal ivory to an underground market that threatens the very existence of the elephant. We’ve got to do better!


China is also no stranger to animals who are in need of help due to human encroachment. In China, a small dolphin called the Yangtze River Dolphin, or Baiji, was recently declared functionally extinct due to habitat pollution, boat traffic and collisions, underwater explosions used for illegal fishing, and river development.

Sad tears! There are no more Baiji!

The forever gone Baiji

The forever gone Baiji

Also imperiled in China is the world renowned Panda. Only 1800 Pandas are estimated to survive in the wild. Despite the natural affinity the world has for this beautiful animal and a lack of natural predators, the panda still suffers from massive deforestation. The resultant division of their territory prevents breeding activity and access to their primary food, bamboo.

Fortunately, the Chinese government has taken an active role in conserving the panda taking the following steps to insure their survival.

Fourteen baby Pandas bred by the Chinese government

Fourteen baby Pandas bred by the Chinese government

The Chinese government issued a National Conservation Management Plan for the Giant Panda and its Habitat.

  • Reduction of human activities in the panda habitat
  • Removal of human settlements
  • Modification of forestry operations
  • Control of poaching
  • Rehabilitation of habitat
  • Management of bamboo habitat
  • Extension of the panda Reserve system
  • Achieving outbreeding between panda populations
  • Maintaining a captive population
  • Release of captive-born pandas into the wild

Panda Conservation Information

Bahrain, too, has some unique animals found along their coastline in the form of the mermaid inspired dugong.   This slow moving, peaceful marine mammal used to be found in herds of 100 individuals. Now it is hard to find them in such numbers.

Bahrain views this species as a national treasure and works hard at conservation efforts protecting the sea grass habitats desperately needed by these peaceful grazers. Dugongs of the Persian Gulf have been hunted for their meat, impacted by oil spills, and suffered due to habitat degradation.

Dugong and Calf

Dugong and Calf

Save The Dugong

So what does this have to do with Formula 1? The paddock is full of animal lovers, from the bulldog of Lewis Hamilton to the horses of Lee McKenzie. There are so many others! Formula 1 is a huge global platform and whether they know it or not, they bring conservation awareness to the globe each time the lights go out in a different country.

Just look outside the track and you are bound to see animals that can benefit from a friendly and caring hand.

Baba Dioum said it best when he shared the following well-known quotation!

In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”