303 F1 sponsorship deals and counting. That is the number of sponsors currently in Formula 1 and it shows no signs of declining.
In addition to this sponsorship bounty in F1, I have news of how IndyCar is willing to lose money to gain fans in Detroit, more twists, and turns in the Palm Beach International Raceway saga and how Penske is discovering that development in LMDh is more expensive than they realized.
All this plus the latest motorsport sponsorship deals and partnerships, why McLaren Racing made changes to their technical structure and how Totto Wolff became a billionaire in this week’s Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.
Motorsport Industry News
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Motorsport Week is reporting that Malaysian circuit and former F1 host Sepang International Circuit is interested in hosting Formula 1 again, but the costs of obtaining the rights to do so is a barrier.
“F1 is very expensive. We had to wait for RM20 million from the government just to upgrade the track,” said Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh to the Malaysian publication The Vibes. “If we could host an F1 race we would already have done it, but for now, we can’t afford to have the races. For now, we will use the money for urgent fixes.”
While the excitement is building in the run-up to this year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, not everyone is apparently happy according to GP Fans. “Speaking to KSNV, Clark County District E Commissioner Tick Segerblom said: “We’ve signed up for 10 years. So and honestly, the first year is gonna be the toughest because we’re learning how to do things, including paving the road. (There are) some people that are upset about what happens, but once we get to get it down, then this is what we do best. And there’s no place in the world like Las Vegas to have a Formula 1.”
General Motorsport Industry News
Forbes columnist Greg Engle explains that, in his opinion, NASCAR owners need to tread carefully or they could lose everything. “So where might this all lead? One only needs look back to America’s largest open-wheel racing series to see what could transpire. In the mid-1990s open wheel racing, sanctioned at the time by the United States Automobile Club (USAC) was enjoying a popularity surge. That rise ended however when in 1996 Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George launched a competing series, the Indy Racing League.”
The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will make more than half of its viewing areas accessible to fans for free as it moves back downtown, a civic-minded move by Roger Penske but one that ensures the IndyCar event will be in the red this year.
“While precise financials weren’t provided, event President Bud Denker told SBJ that having half of the course open like that for free has “never been done before,” and he confirmed that the grand prix will not turn a profit this year. Denker added: “This has never been a profit-maker for us; it’s always been about giving back to the city we live in. … It’s not going to make money and that hasn’t been our mission. Our mission is to continue to give back to Detroit, so I’m sure when we said that we’re going to have more than half of the area open for free it raised some eyebrows of others who run events, but our mission is very different. Inclusiveness is the word.”
The first joint event featuring TCR Australia and the KUMHO TCR World Tour will be hosted at Sydney Motorsport Park. The weekend in Sydney will be followed by the trip to Mount Panorama as part of the Bathurst International. A joint effort between the Australian Racing Group, Motorsport Australia, Sydney Motorsport Park and the WSC Group, the owner of TCR trademark and technical regulations, has enabled this event to take place.
Liam Curkpatrick, Chief Operating Officer, Australian Racing Group said: “We are pleased to formalise this deal that will see two weeks of world-class motorsport in New South Wales. To have the best TCR drivers and teams come to Australia is great for our local competitors, really testing themselves against the world. And to conclude the TCR Australia Series with back-to-back rounds at Sydney and Bathurst is going to bring a lot of excitement and interest to TCR.”
In other TCR news, organizers of the British Endurance Championship have agreed a deal with WSC that will allow it to run an official TCR class within the series.
“We are pleased to further expand the TCR footprint in Britain, adding to the successful growth of TCR UK,” WSC president Marcello Lotti said. “Welcoming the British Endurance Championship under WSC’s umbrella provides local drivers and teams with more and different opportunities to enjoy racing TCR cars.”
What was once seen as a certainty is now a bit less so as the battle over the Palm Beach International Raceway has taken a turn that could possibly signal a lifeline for the track.
“Since the applicant has appealed the denial decision, the application will now go in front of a special magistrate, basically a Judge, to deliver a recommendation to the Board for another vote,” said racetrack proponent Madelyn Marconi. “The County, however, is now justifying the decision and says that the racetrack is needed in the community and would still be used, as drag racing is thriving across the community and country. It would also be useful to combat illegal street racing on public roads. The April 19th hearing will focus on the legal side as well as adversity to public interest. Sometimes zoning boards are restricted to what they can deny or approve and now they have competent substantial evidence on their side to justify the decision that was rendered at the January 26th hearing.”
In other track news, races at both the Hungaroring and the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, better known as Imola, have been canceled due to renovations to the tracks.
The European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC) has cancelled its round in Hungary this year due to reconstruction at the track in the hopes of it extending its F1 contract. A statement from series organizer the European Truck Racing Association (ETRA) read: ‘Despite ETRA’s best efforts no solution could be found, and therefore the event at the Hungaroring, which was due to be held on 3/4 June 2023, will be cancelled.’
At Imola meanwhile, over-running paddock and pit building renovation works have forced the cancellation of the second round of the 2023 European Le Mans Series at the track which had been due to take place over the weekend of 5-7 May. This news also affects the schedules for the Michelin Le Mans Cup and Ligier European Series, which both support the ELMS at each round.
Teams are working with Supercars to cut costs out of the new Gen3 race cars which have proven more expensive than their predecessors so far. Walkinshaw Andretti United co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw told media, “The cost of the car so far is more expensive than the previous ones, as a whole car. We’re going to find out what the running costs of the cars are throughout the season. So far, there’s more expensive parts in certain areas of the car which previously were a lot cheaper. But, we’re going to be working with Supercars and all the teams are going to be working with Supercars on having a sustainability plan which will try and bring down some of that cost going forward.”
Staying in Australia, the new ‘Home of Motorsport’ for Victoria will be announced this week as design work begins on a government-backed ‘super circuit’ outside Melbourne. “If approved, it’s understood the track will be targeted to be ready by 2026, most likely hosting a Supercars championship event soon after beginning operation.”
No announcement has yet been made at the time this column was put together.
You don’t have to be involved in motorsport to understand the battering supply chains across the world have been taking over the last year or two and motorsport has been quite heavily affected. In his column Inside the harsh reality of supply chain delays, Motorsport.com author Giorgio Breda explains how it is affecting motorsport through the eyes of a supplier to the sport. “We know that all companies are impacted by this situation, and we are currently struggling with delays at all levels of the supply chain. The particular unavailability of some accessories means that we must find new ones with similar traits.”
A lot of people were surprised when former Mahindra Formula E boss Dilbagh Gill announced that he was stepping aside. But since he has announced that his new electric development series Ace Championship is set to be launched in 2024, he is back in the spotlight once again and looking ahead to launching his new series.
“But there are going to be a lot of people who are aspiring to do this and we will wish them all well, yet at the same time I think it’s just the market is going to be so tight and small that we want to be sure that we’re an authentic brand and an authentic organisation.”
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
From Tom Brown of BlackBook Motorsport: “Few can argue that F1 is currently enjoying a commercial boom, and the chart above backs that up, with a mammoth 303 deals in place across the ten teams. The number of sponsors is of course only one metric – deal values vary massively – but it is intriguing to see the differences nonetheless.”
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- Virgin Hotels Las Vegas Named Official Entitlement Sponsor of East Harmon Zone at Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix
- Nascar signs RTIC Outdoors as cooler and drinkware partner
- Goodyear to be exclusive tyre supplier for new WEC class
- HUB International Announces Its Team Wide 2023 Associate Sponsorship of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Primary Sponsor of the No. 30 Entry with Driver Jack Harvey at Honda Indy Toronto
- GASGAS renews its partnership with the Hertz FIM Trial World Championship
- Paramount+ to become an Official Partner of Formula 1 in a new multi-year deal
- Autobrite Direct Commit to Another Season in the BTCC as Title Partners
- Alpine F1 team signs three-year extension with Sprinklr
- Aston Martin launch fan loyalty programme
- Peacock signs Meta deal to make Nascar and IndyCar to available on VR headsets
- NEP Group partners with Nascar and WRC
- Harlequin Teamwear Remains Team HARD. Racing’s Official Teamwear Supplier for 2023
The Business of Running a Race Team
Porsche Penske Motorsport has revealed that LMDh development costs have been more than they anticipated. “Jonathan Diuguid, the head of the Porsche Penske Motorsport operation admitted in conversation with DSC that the budget required to go racing with an LMDh chassis costs more than was originally anticipated. He is however encouraged by both the new era of sportscar racing and the progress of the 963 as a platform, as the biggest race of the season at Le Mans in June approaches.”
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has explained why he asked team principal Andrea Stella to look at a restructure the squad’s technical department. “If you’re going to look at the pace of development of some of the other teams, where they started and where they ended, versus where we started and where we ended. Of course, we had a team principal change towards the end of the year which allowed me the opportunity to be more aggressive in working with Andrea, to give him the mandate of ‘take a look at the team’. That’s exactly what he did.”
Experienced BMW team Walkenhorst Motorsport is “motivated” for its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut despite facing the significant challenge of getting acquainted with a new type of car as well as the GTE platform. The German squad, which won the 24 Hours of Spa with BMW in 2018, is running a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in GTE-Am, marking a departure from its usual GT3 territory. “For us, it was important to understand what sort of surrounding packages are available and make the most sense. We then decided to go the Ferrari way.”
Speed Sport looks at how teamwork is making the dream work at Vasser Sullivan. “The simple things are sometimes the hardest things,” Hawksworth said. “If you look at this team over the last year or two, we’ve honed in on getting the basics right. … They may not be the most exciting things sometimes, but they’re the things that are going to get you into the top three or top five at the end of these races.”
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- Isotta LMH Completes First Shakedown at Vallelunga
- Pro Alloys Racing to run TCR UK programme
- Boutsen VDS Sets 2023 Line-Ups
- Three Audi Sport customer teams in the DTM
- Pro Alloys Racing to run TCR UK programme
- Attempto Returns to Operate Tresor Orange1 Audis
Motorsport Movers & Shakers
Ignition Human Performance has put together a great idea in what they call their Ignition Book Club. This week they are featuring David Coulthard – The Winning Formula.
“One of the key takeaways from Coulthard’s book is the importance of mental strength and resilience. He emphasizes that racing is as much a mental sport as a physical one, and that the ability to stay focused and composed under pressure is essential for success. He also stresses the importance of preparation, both in terms of physical fitness and in terms of studying the track, the competition, and elements such as the weather.”
Stefano Domenicali, President & CEO, Formula 1 is set to speak at this year’s CAA World Congress of Sports on April 18th. His talk is called No Ordinary Sport: F1’s Formula for Driving Fan Passion and Reaching New Audiences and will take place at 11:30 AM.
Huddle Up explains How Mercedes F1 Boss Toto Wolff Became A Billionaire. “Wolff has run two different F1 teams — Williams and Mercedes. He currently manages an organization with more than 1,000 employees and annual revenues of $450 million. His teams have won over 100 races, and Mercedes just completed the most dominant run in F1 history, winning 8 consecutive World Championships. And the result? Toto Wolff is officially a billionaire, according to Forbes. But the interesting part isn’t that he’s made a billion dollars — it’s how he did it.”