This week’s Business of Motorsport News is absolutely jam packed. Clearly the big news in the business of motorsport this week has been Michael Andretti’s plans for a Formula One team. I bring you the latest news and views on how this is all playing out. A number of sponsorship deals have also been concluded and I look at general motorsport business news covering everything from supply chain issues, managing the F1 budget cap to the importance of trademarks in motorsport. Finally, I have a nice video that goes behind the scenes at Honda Performance Development for you to enjoy.
Michael Andretti and Formula 1: The Quest Continues
The big business of motorsport news this week has been Michael Andretti’s filing of paperwork with the FIA to launch his own Formula 1 team in 2024 under the Andretti Global brand as revealed by Mario Andretti to Racer.com. He has indicated that he is prepared to pay the $200 million “anti-dilution fee” if required although it should be remembered that the FIA can waive this fee. The plan would be to “definitely” run at least one American driver, with Colton Herta the name mentioned the most and the cars would be built in Indianapolis. Interestingly, Alpine, the only engine manufacturer not supplying engines to another team have indicated that they would be willing to partner with Andretti if needed.
It is quite clear that Michael Andretti is determined to enter Formula 1. After his surprise bid for Sauber collapsed it seemed his intent to race in F1 has remained undiminished. As Chris Medland points out based on her interview with Mario Andretti, “he wanted to make very clear that this entry is serious. Really serious.” Respected F1 writer Joe Saward feels that Michael has unfinished business in F1 based on his aborted run with McLaren in the early ’90s.
While demonstrating his intentions are great, what kind of reaction did Andretti’s bid get from the FIA and the current teams? The FIA have stated that they are not in a position to consider new F1 teams and aside from Alpine, the remainder of the teams reactions have been lukewarm at best although Zak Brown (who is American) stated that rival Formula 1 teams are being short-sighted in questioning the Andretti team’s potential for a new entry. “There is the dilution payment, which kind of covers you for a couple of years, but you have to assume that Andretti will help us grow in North America, which will compensate for any dilution.”
It is hard to tell how this will all play out. It is clear that Andretti is firm in his resolve that he wants to race in F1. It is also clear that F1’s popularity in the United States is on an upswing with two races on the schedule this year and a third Las Vegas race in the wings. Finally, let’s not forget that commercial rights holder Liberty is an American company and they will no doubt be pushing for an American team running an American driver. This could get really interesting.
- Continuing on with the crypto craze that has dominated the last few editions of the Business of Motorsport, Ralph Boschung has unveiled his crypto-sponsored F2 livery for 2022, a livery which has been designed following a sponsorship deal with content creator Carl Runefelt. The Swede is personally sponsoring Boschung’s entry with Campos Racing this year, with his face appearing in front of the car’s Halo. The deal also sees the livery promote the digital currency Bitcoin, with eight of its logos featuring on the car, as well as several NFTs.
- On the Indycar side of his business, the Andretti team has added quantum computing company Zapata Computing as a partner. The team will receive “brand sponsorship and a multi-million-dollar agreement to deploy and leverage Zapata’s platform, Orquestra, in search of race day success with advanced analytics and quantum techniques.”
- In a significant development for the female motorsport development program Shift Up Now, Indianapolis headquartered Bell Techlogix has pledged its support of women in motorsport by sponsoring four athletes, Erin Vogel, Sally McNulty, Sarah Montgomery and Pippa Mann, for the 2022 racing season, in addition to joining as a Corporate Member.
- Fashion has always had a place in Formula 1 from the days of Benetton and Hugo Boss and two fashion-related developments in F1 made the business of motorsport news this week. The Aston Martin Formula One Team has announced that it will be continuing its partnership with British menswear brand Hackett London. Meanwhile, AlphaTauri’s Ahmet Mercan has pointed out that “F1 is a playground for us as fashion-pioneers to get inspired.”
- Williams Racing have announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Duracell. The two companies will engage in a number of high-profile marketing initiatives, including TV commercials, esports and activation at several Grands Prix, starting with the Miami Grand Prix in May.
- The Alfa Romeo F1 Team have announced a new partnership with high-performance safety equipment manufacturer Sabelt. “Joining forces with Sabelt is a very positive development for the team and the company as a whole. Safety is paramount and we owe the improvements of the last decades to the relentless research and development of a brand like Sabelt,” said Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal of Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN.
- Not forgetting the red hot crypto market, Alfa Romeo announced that they have teamed up with crypto meme coin Floki as a partner for the 2022 Formula One season. The deal, which will see Floki’s distinctive branding feature on the rear wing endplates of the C42 cars of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, will also see Floki partner Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN Esports. A spokesman for Floki commented: “Alfa Romeo and Sauber Motorsport are iconic names in world of motorsport. With Zhou Guanyu making his Formula One debut in 2022 as the first ever Chinese driver in Formula One, alongside Valtteri Bottas, it is going to be an amazing season and Floki is proud to be a part of this historic moment. Both Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN and Floki are committed to the pursuit of excellence that leads us to proudly partner with the team during the 2022 Formula One season.”
- Alfa Romeo have also announced a new brand partnership with global, live-clean lifestyle essentials brand Modere. Modere is an omnichannel, consumer products company that develops and markets beauty and personal care products that are clinically validated, U.S. EPA Safer Choice-approved, EWG Verified™, NSF Certified, gray-water appropriate and formulated without the use of thousands of controversial chemicals and compounds. The brand will have its logo featured on the C42. Asma Ishaq, Chief Executive Officer of Modere: “This partnership is a natural fit for both companies. As well-recognized global brands, both Modere and Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN take our social and environmental responsibilities seriously, and we share a commitment to supporting the optimal health and well-being of the sport’s competitors, something that is critical to their performance and results.
- The Alpine F1 Team and data.ai have joined forces in a digital partnership. The new partnership will see data.ai showcased on the team’s livery of the A522, its driver overalls as well as select team branding at several races during the 2022 season. Theodore Krantz, CEO, data.ai: “We are incredibly proud and excited to be partnering with the BWT Alpine F1 team – a legendary and iconic brand. Our shared vision is to level-up performance through data-driven insights and compete at the highest level to drive outstanding results.”
- Finally, the Quattro Group has been confirmed as a British Superbike partner for a third straight season. “The Supersport class continues to thrive courtesy of our pioneering technical regulations and this season will feature more manufacturers on the grid. Title sponsorship of the British Supersport Championship, combined with the trackside branding and event naming rights, makes this a perfect platform for the Quattro Group to showcase their brand.”
General Motorsport Industry News & Views
- According to a press release, Volkswagen AG and Porsche Automobil Holding SE are currently in advanced discussions regarding a potential IPO of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. For this purpose, Volkswagen AG and Porsche Automobil Holding SE negotiated a Framework Agreement which should form the basis for further steps in the preparation of a potential IPO of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. According to Automotive News Europe, “sources told Reuters last year the Porsche and Piech families, who control Porsche SE, were weighing taking a direct stake in Porsche AG.”
- Speaking of Porsche, Forbes has a great article on their business of selling customer race cars. “Today’s customers may transform a showroom stock street-legal Porsche into a race car – a process that is both time-consuming and expensive – or they can reach out directly to Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) and buy a turn-key race car straight from the automaker. PMNA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Porsche AG, was founded in 1985. The company is headquartered in 15,000 square feet of the Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles (PECLA).”
- Motorsport has not been immune to the current supply chain issue plaguing businesses worldwide. PRI looks at how American racing series are dealing with race tire-related supply chain issues and Marshall Pruett at Racer.com looks at the supplier challenges that are putting a squeeze on IndyCar’s 2023 hybrid testing plans.
- Sport Dimensions looks at the public benefit derived from the technical partnerships created through motorsport and how benefits both society as a whole and motorsport. They specifically look at developments in safety, durability and real world conditions.
- As a demonstration of the technical partnerships that Sport Dimensions talks about, Cadillac has explained why they believe that sports car racing will improve their road cars. In the words of the lead exterior designer at Cadillac, Chris Mikalauskas, “It will artistically combine form and function to influence the development of the forthcoming race car. Elements of Cadillac’s brand DNA, such as vertical lighting and floating blades, will be present throughout.”
- Co-owner of the No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda, George Michael Steinbrenner’s role is set to change as he takes a new, unspecified role within the family-owned New York Yankees Major League Baseball organization. In a further development within the team, Steinbrenner’s sister Julia will step into a leadership role at Steinbrenner Racing as she joins the team in a new co-ownership position alongside her brother.
- What does an F1 team do in this new budget cap era if their design proves uncompetitive? It would be as much an accounting issue as it would be a development issue according to the teams.
- Sporttechie has a fascinating article on what they call NASCAR’s “Moneyball Moment” as they look at how SMT’s Team Analytics Tool takes the luck out of winning Daytona.
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing IndyCar driver Graham Rahal says that he expects to one day take over his family’s team, and will take on a more “senior role” going forward.
- Discussing his brand new race team, FIA World Endurance Championship debutant Vector Sport was formed on a “blank piece of paper” for its first season in the LMP2 class, according to team principal Gary Holland. “Vector Sport truly is a new team and a new company,” Holland told Sportscar365. “It’s new in every sense, although there are some familiar faces around it. It’s a blank piece of paper. “It’s new in every sense, although there are some familiar faces around it. It’s a blank piece of paper.” He goes on to discuss how the team is structured, what the team’s ambitions are and why LMP2 is the perfectly class to start with.
- In the third installment of the LawinSport series dealing with intellectual property in motorsport, they dive into the importance of Trade Marks in motorsport and how they can impact a team both on and off the track.
- The Formula Regional European Championship has announced a change to its 2022 entry list, with Portuguese squad DR Formula being replaced by new team Race Performance Motorsport. The Italian-registered outfit has been working for several months to secure one of FREC’s 12 team slots, with its ambitions being led by the family of 2017 Mazda Road to Indy Shootout winner and Formula Ford Festival runner-up Keith Donegan. R-P-M will be based in Italian city Piacenza and in addition to Donegan, whose racing career ended after coming ninth in USF2000 as a rookie in 2018, the management structure will include Enrico Carraro who comes from sportscars. For an idea of RPM’s ambitions, take a look at the interview they were part of on the F1 Feeder Series website. “We can run at the front.”
- Curious about the media footprint of the FIA Formula 2 series? According to the F2 Media Kit on the Formula 2 Website, with live TV coverage across the globe Formula 2 attracted a cumulative audience of 32.3 million in 2020. This represented a significant increase of +59% on 2019.
- Motorsport Magazine has an interesting look at the impact that recent long term contracts F1 contracts with some of the younger drivers will have on the sport in the near future.
- Finally, have a look behind the scenes with Honda Performance Development in the video above.
That is it for this week’s Business of Motorsport News round-up. As always, if you have news you would like to share please do not hesitate to contact me.