At least, I couldn't until my sister made one of those painfully obvious comparisons that I should have made myself years ago: Formula One is the modern incarnation of Ping Pong Diplomacy, the thawing of relations between China and the United States made possible by a shared ping pong connection. Yes, that ping pong - the game you play a few times a summer on a warped board found in the back of a damp barn or garage.
The modern F1 calendar has been spreading across the globe with triffid-like tenacity in recent years, leading to races in countries with little or no tradition of grassroots motorsport. The empty grandstands in these massive monoliths are a disappointment, but the real disappointment comes when there's an empty paddock to match.
For all that Formula One is a sport on Sundays (and on bits of Friday and Saturday), it is also fertile ground for businesses and governments. In addition to the traditional team and race sponsorship models, we now have more innovative approaches from the likes of Sauber (and their Sauber Club One) and Lotus, who are using Gerard Lopez' B2B experience to deliver a new kind of F1 platform to their investors.
While a lot of the Paddock Club high rollers are more interested in doing business deals than they are with keeping an eye on changing sector times, their presence at races is key: these are the people who are bank-rolling the sport that the fans sustain by buying tickets and adding to the TV eyeballs that convince sponsors to open up their wallets.
But investment can happen any where, any time - especially if you have the right Rolodex or know someone who does.
What makes F1 special is the way that - especially in new motorsport territories - the level of governmental support gives these high rollers, these financiers, direct and informal access to official decision-makers and stakeholders. Why wait months to set up a meeting with x emir when you can arrange an informal introduction over a glass of mint tea during FP3?
Through Formula One's ever-expanding global reach, far-sighted governments, business brains, and investors are using the paddock as a roving networking opportunity padded with high net-worth individuals with contacts books to match. At least, that's what's happening in the Middle East and Asia, where the business benefits of motorsport are seen as being more important than just a day at the races.
And it is here that the European governments are missing a trick. While they might not be able to afford to support their race financially - these are times of austerity, after all - nor can they afford not to send along a delegation of politicians keen to network and seek out investment for their country or region.
I've written before about the ways in which my F1 travel experiences have led me to believe that the West (for lack of a better descriptor) is falling behind. If governments are willing to let such obvious opportunities for international investment and growth slip through their fingers, we may find ourselves unable to catch up for a generation or more.
If you're interested in the original Ping Pong Diplomacy story, the Wikipedia article is not a bad place to start.