With Andretti Global and GM subsidiary Cadillac announcing a joint Formula 1 team bid, it looks like there will in fact be new teams in F1 sometime in the near future.
While the Andretti/GM announcement puts FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s announcement that F1 is open to new teams in context, it is not the only business of motorsport news that took place over the last few days since my holiday break.
Andretti had also announced a partnership with Wayne Taylor Racing to run in IMSA GTP which happened before the Cadillac announcement. In addition to this, Tony Quinn believes Supercars needs stronger commercial leadership, Isotta Fraschini is one step closer to a WEC entry, more F1 teams drop their crypto sponsors and Mercedes explains why they pulled out of Formula E.
I also bring you the latest motorsport deals and partnerships, a number of team mergers and much more in this week’s Business of Motorsport, which as always, is business news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
After months of failing to give a straight answer on new teams in F1, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has revealed that he is looking to expand the Formula 1 grid by appealing for expressions of interest for potential new teams. “I have asked my FIA team to look at launching an Expressions of Interest process for prospective new teams for the FIA F1 World Championship” he recently tweeted.
As has been reported constantly over the last few months, Michael Andretti has stated that he wanted to be on the F1 grid and this announcement by the FIA, coupled with his announcement that he is teaming up with GM for an F1 entry, means things are looking closer to happening than ever although the FIA issued their standard non-committal response. “Any Expressions of Interest process will follow strict FIA protocol and will take several months.” Motorsport.com speculates that Honda is the logical choice as partner for Cadillac’s F1 entry with Andretti.
The Race looks at the leading new team contenders while Joe Saward looks at the Andretti/GM bid and what rivals like Ford may be up to. Saward also looks at what could come next. The Race also offers their verdict on the Andretti/GM announcement.
GM’s Mark Reuss explains drive behind F1 plans for Cadillac. “I couldn’t be more excited to write this new chapter of racing history together,” Reuss said. “Like Andretti Global, General Motors and our brands have a long history in motorsports and a deep passion to race. Our racing pedigree has been forged on some of the greatest tracks and races around the world. Our hope is to add F1 to our competition portfolio. If accepted, I’m excited to announce that this all-American team would run under the Cadillac Racing mark.”
For any new engine manufacturer, Pat Symonds explains the big challenge that F1 faces in 2026 with the new engine regulations. “The big challenge is not to overwhelm the teams,” the 69-year-old said. “The big issue in 2026 will be energy management. That’s why we have to improve aerodynamics. We have to be sensible about that. It’s easy for us to demand something, but the teams have to build it. Some things have to be done, though.”
Audi for their part says that it would be ready to supply Power Units to customer teams if it is called upon to do so by the FIA. “If that happens, we would be ready, for sure. But at the moment we are not looking for a customer team, it’s too early for that. We will focus on our program as a factory.”
If you are curious about the economics of putting on an F1 race at COTA, Bobby Epstein gives a great explanation to Forbes. “We are a venue, we are a theater,” Epstein said. “It took us years to really realize that. Our job is to put on a great event; it’s not our job to put on a great show. We must do things right for the fans and put on a facility that works and makes it easy for them to get around and where the fans don’t have to wait hours for food.”
Here are two great articles on fan engagement in Formula 1.
Reuters looks at how female fans will fuel Formula One in 2023. “Luring more spectators to stands and screens, especially female ones, is a better approach. Netflix’s (NFLX.O) “Drive to Survive”, a docuseries tracking F1 teams, topped the streaming company’s viewing rankings in 33 countries when it was released at the beginning of the 2022 season, according to Formula One. The company says it has been “vital” for reaching new fans, including women. Around 40% of F1 fans are now female, up 8% from 2017, and more women are attending races too, Domenicali said in November.”
Road & Track looks at how it’s not just the on track action and personalities that are attracting fans but its juiciest scandals. “Scams spring up in F1 because F1 loves shady financing, though it might deny it in the moment. F1 trades exposure for cash from every antidemocratic kleptocracy it can find. Entire teams come and go based on shaky backing. What is the Aston Martin team today once was Force India, before Force India backer Vijay Mallya was arrested on $1.4 billion in fraud charges. Haas F1 happily boasted about Russian sponsorship, right up until the money became verboten as Russia invaded Ukraine. It’s not victim blaming to say that F1’s love for shady cash opens the sport to scammers; nothing is illegal until you get caught, and F1 has survived for decades in that fertile middle ground.”
In addition to various other countries, Sports Business Journal reports that F1 Arcade is looking at expansion opportunities in the U.S. “Breeden wouldn’t reveal exactly where F1 Arcade will be expanding to in the U.S., but he acknowledged that N.Y. is one of the options and that the venture is “definitely coming to the U.S. in a big way.”
General Motorsport Industry News
Tony Quinn believes Supercars needs stronger leadership based on the championship’s commercial direction this year. “When you’re the leader of a business it’s got to be positive,” said Quinn on the KTM Summer Grill. “The thing that I have noticed this year — and I’m talking commercially not from a sport point of view — there hasn’t been anybody that has stood up there and that’s spruiked the business this year. It’s all been — in my opinion — a little bit negative.”
ESPN explains how IndyCar’s inclusion initiatives bore fruit in 2022, and they are building hope for a more diverse 2023 and beyond. “Of everything I’ll remember about this IndyCar season, I can’t think of anything more important than Ashmore’s and Pena’s wins on the sport’s biggest stage, and all of the visible increases with more women, people of color and LGBTQIA+ crew members landing on pit lane and in victory circle. In a sport that’s been predominantly white and male since its formation more than a century ago, 2022 was the year when IndyCar teams made noticeable gains in inclusiveness.”
All is not positive in IndyCar though as The Drive reports that IndyCar is pulling out of iRacing and everyone is pissed off. “The news has been met with unanimous criticism from the sim racing and IndyCar communities. Many report taking an interest in IndyCar from iRacing, or vice versa. Even retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. decried IndyCar’s withdrawal, calling it “a gut punch for that community.”
And no, the proposed Andretti/GM F1 project is no threat to the GM IndyCar program. Asked if its championship-winning IndyCar engine supply with the Ilmor-built 2.2-liter twin-turbo Chevrolet V6s was in jeopardy with its new F1 ambitions, a GM/Cadillac representative told RACER, “No. We are still committed to IndyCar and have a strong relationship with the series and our teams.”
Forbes reports that NASCAR hopes to continue its momentum as it rolls into its 75th year in 2023. “All this positive news didn’t go unnoticed by the business world. Many of the sponsors who power the wheels that help turn the sport extended their partnership with NASCAR: longtime partner Goodyear Tire & Rubber re-signed, and several former sponsors even returned to the sport. Craftsman tools, the entitlement sponsor in the Truck series starting in that series’ inaugural season of 1995 until 2008, will return to that role in 2023.”
Revived Italian car maker Isotta Fraschini is teaming up with the British Vector Sport team in its bid for a World Endurance Championship entry with its new Le Mans Hypercar. “Isotta and Silverstone-based Vector, which was established for an LMP2 campaign in the WEC in 2022, will submit a solo entry in the Hypercar class for the LMH under development at GT specialist Michelotto in Italy. Their plan is to join the 2023 WEC at round three at Spa at the end of April after testing of the new hybrid contender begins at the end of February.”
Porsche Motorsport has re-iterated its commitment to the release of a further four customer Porsche 963 Hypercar/ GTPs for the 2024 season. “With other marques currently having either made the decision to delay customer programmes until 2025, or in some cases remaining on the cusp of doing so, Porsche’s policy is a key part of the potential expansion of the two parallel formulae.”
Unlike Porsche, Honda Performance Development has no current plans to make the Acura ARX-06 LMDh available to customer teams according to company Vice President Kelvin Fu, who hasn’t completely ruled out such a possibility in the future. “I know Porsche is doing it but they have that infrastructure worldwide. That’s what they do. It’s a really different business model, even from GT3 racing, which is the next level we do. It may be interesting but we’d have to figure out what really makes sense.”
The Touring Car Times looks into what went wrong with the World Touring Car Championship. “After ever-increasing costs and a lack of manufacturer involvement proved to be the end for the World Touring Car Championship, the decision to merge with the TCR International Series for 2018 was supposed to be the start of a new era for touring car racing on the global stage. With hundreds of cars being and hitting the track in a matter of years, the switch to TCR regulations for the WTCC – albeit as a World Cup as opposed to a World Championship – appeared to make a lot of sense.”
Toto Wolff has explained the reason why Mercedes pulled out of Formula E after spending three years in the championship and it was because of the low TV viewing figures. “It’s the same in Formula E, the audiences were just not good enough. So you have DTM there, and then you have Formula E here, and then you have F1 in the whole room. So, we decided that let’s concentrate on doing that properly and put the resources into F1, rather than being distracted and dilutive for the other things.”
Performance Racing Magazine has a great feature on the emerging phenomena of athletes investing in motorsport. “Increasingly, professional athletes from Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and pro boxing are choosing to bring their competitive spirit to the motorsports arena. Some athletes are choosing the driver’s seat, but more are buying ownership stakes or taking management positions.”
Archerfield Speedway will close in 2023, it has been confirmed by management of the Brisbane, Australia venue. In a post on the precinct’s official Facebook page, it has been announced that the scheduled ‘grand finale’ event on June 3 will be the speedway’s last.
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
The Haas F1 team has updated their name following the announcement late last year that Moneygram was set to become their new title sponsor. “The logo keeps its basic look with the H of Haas remaining in a red circle but now the red and white logo of MoneyGram can be seen as part of it. The image sits above the team’s new name with a red line separating the sponsor and Haas.”
Formula 1 has announced Gulf Air will continue as the Title Partner of the Bahrain Grand Prix, following a renewal of the successful partnership that has been running since the event started in 2004. “The partnership between Formula 1, Gulf Air and the promoter in Bahrain is one of the longest running of its kind and will continue to deliver huge awareness and value for the brand and provide exciting opportunities for customer engagement.”
The Ferrari F1 team appear to have dropped Velas as a sponsor ahead of the 2023 season resulting in a potential $55 million hole after the loss of them and another premium sponsor Snapdragon. “The loss of Velas and Snapdragon means that Ferrari needs to plug a significant hole in its portfolio, with estimates suggesting that the Velas deal was worth $30m per annum, with Snapdragon’s contribution said to total $25m in terms of cash and technical support.”
Related to the Ferrari news above and word that AlphaTauri have dropped their crypto sponsors, Sam Cooper in Planet F1 argues that the crypto crash should make F1 teams reconsider who they get into bed with. “Nine of the 10 current teams have some kind of crypto sponsor with Williams being the sole team free of any such deal. A report by Sports Illustrated in November showed the staggering drop in value that all F1 team sponsors had occurred.”
Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo is cutting back on motorsport sponsorships following a money laundering investigation of its CEO. “Motorsport has come to be seen in a special light for us,” said Ton van Veen, van Eerd’s temporary successor, during the presentation of the annual figures. “That also has consequences for our sponsorship in motorsport. We won’t be doing that for long. We will similarly take a critical look at our activities in motorsport. An exception to that is the contract with Max Verstappen.”
Erebus Motorsport has announced a multi-year naming rights deal with Coca-Cola for the 2023 and 2024 Supercars Championship seasons, running under the Coca-Cola Racing by Erebus banner. The announcements marks the first time since 1996 that Coca Cola has taken full naming rights for a two-car team.
The Business of Running a Race Team
Andretti are not just forging alliances in F1 as they have teamed up with Wayne Taylor Racing to tackle the 2023 IMSA GTP championship. “Andretti Autosport and Wayne Taylor Racing announced a new, long-term partnership today that will see the championship-caliber teams combine resources to compete in IMSA’s top classes. Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 and its No. 93 Harrison Contracting Company Acura NSX Evo22 will make their official debut at the 2023 Roar Before the Rolex 24 and will be on the grid for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The newly formed team will also compete in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series.”
Team boss Wayne Taylor explained that the increased costs and demands of entering GTP required a partner to better help tackle the challenge. “Following the partnership’s announcement, Taylor spoke of relief to officially link up with an organization of Andretti’s size as WTR prepares to face the increased costs and demands of entering GTP after six years in the DPi formula.”
Autosport Plus explains how Porsche and Penske are gearing up for sportscar racing’s bold new era. “It’s a very important project for us,” confirms Porsche’s Head of Motorsport Thomas Laudenbach. “I couldn’t imagine the brand of Porsche without motorsport. We’ve got a great history in endurance racing – at Le Mans and in America. We call it our ‘living room’, so therefore coming back to the top class and fighting for overall victories has special meaning for us.”
Andretti Autosport will see half of its four full-time NTT IndyCar Series entries head into 2023 with new driver and race engineering combinations. “You won’t be surprised to know that we’re keeping Nathan with Colton,” Andretti COO Rob Edwards told RACER with a laugh. “So, Jeremy Milless will work with Kyle, Olivier is going to work with Romain again, and on the 29 car, Andy Listes and Ron Barhorst will be swapping roles.”
Before their first full season of racing, Yas Heat Racing Academy made their on-track debut with young Emirati talents Keanu Al Azhari and Matteo Quintarelli at F4 UAE’s non-championship Trophy Race weekend, with Al Azhari taking a podium in each race. Feeder Series sat down with Yas Heat Racing Academy team manager Matthew Norman to discuss what’s to come in 2023 for the young team. “With a private test before that too, the laps really have racked up – a luxury not every team has. This opportunity was due to Yas Heat’s position as part of the Yas Marina Circuit entity itself. The team was originally formed by the owners of the track with the aims of securing a future in motorsport for local talent and developing young Emirati drivers.”
Jessica Dane has highlighted the biggest challenge in her first year of co-ownership at Triple Eight Race Engineering since her father Roland stepped down. “Probably the biggest learning has been taking on Super2,” she said when asked about her biggest personal challenge. “We got through Sydney Motorsport Park and then gradually, as one of the other teams in pit lane started coming up and tempting our people away, we lost a lot of people from that core group of Super2.”
Frederic Bertrand’s move from the FIA to Mahindra may have been controversial but the new Formula E team boss has lofty expectations of making the ex-frontrunning squad a winning proposition again. The Race looks at the challenge facing the controversial new Formula E team boss.
Drag racing powerhouses KB Racing and Titan Racing teams have announced that they have joined forces to become KB Titan Racing (KBTR). “To partner with one of the most respected and successful teams in the history of Pro Stock is incredible,” said Latino. “We built a really good, respected, and proven brand with Titan Racing Engines – not just for Pro Stock but also for Pro Mod, sprint cars, and dirt track racing – and with the resources that we now have together, the capabilities are truly awesome. There are more announcements to come for KB Titan Racing, but we’re already beyond thrilled with this partnership.”
Hong Kong and Sepang based BlackArts Racing, the 2020 F3 Asia Team and Drivers Champions, has announced they do not intend to participate in the newly renamed Formula Regional Middle East Championship (FRMEC). Team Principal, Bill O’Brien issued a statement on social media stating: “Whilst we understand the organizer’s decision to continue racing in the Middle East, and the FIA’s decision, to thus change the name of the series to reflect that reality, we have taken the decision not to race in FRMEC. The past two years of racing in the “Formula Regional Asian Championship” only in the Middle East have been difficult for our team and other Asian-based team, most of whom have disappeared from the series. These two years of racing an “Asian” series only in the Middle East have also been difficult for Asian-based drivers. We are currently looking at opportunities to race our cars and develop drivers in Asia, on Asian circuits, most of which are now open and actively holding events.”
Team Manager, Alex Yoong added: “Our cars have been rebuilt and are available for testing at Sepang. The good news is that we are full in January and February for testing. We hope to be back racing with them later in the year.”
Racing driver Rupert Laslett, who competes in Great Britain’s Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge, has become the latest director at Yorkshire-based Hype Motorsport, after acquiring a stake in the business. Laslett will have an active role in the company, overseeing new projects planned for 2023, as well as promoting Hype’s events and track day car hire to his network in the world of motorsport and the Porsche community.
Technology transfer from motorsport to other industries is relatively commonplace, however, the mindsets and working methods employed at the pinnacle of our sport can also be deployed to great benefit outside of racing. To this end, McLaren Racing’s head of vehicle dynamics, Mike Law, has set out to help others harness the lessons he has learned over a decade and a half of racing in his book ACE Thinking: Life Lessons From Engineering the Ultimate Racing Cars. Click here to read the book review at www.pmw-magazine.com.