This week, the Business of Motorsport offers up a few questions such as:
- Will Honda Return to F1?
- Will the FIA get out of their own way governing F1?
- Will more manufacturers join Supercars?
- Will the W Series finish out their 2022 season?
These are just some of the questions dealt with in this week’s column. In addition to all this, I bring more motorsport sponsorship deal details, more showcasing of how racing teams go about their business and more motorsport movers and shakers. Its business news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
- With reports that Porsche is planning to drop their F1 plans in light of the collapsed deal with Red Bull Racing, could Honda be waiting in the wings to take their place in 2026? Helmut Marko admitted as much when asked about the possibilities of a new engine collaboration with the Japanese manufacturer. “Marko, the long time advisor to Red Bull, says Honda are keen on returning to the sport on a full-time basis as an engine supplier once more when the new engine regulations come into force in 2026, and he has revealed talks have begun about restarting the partnership that first ran between 2019 and 2021.” The relationship seems to have been rekindled as it was also revealed on the eve of the Japanese Grand Prix that the Red Bull Formula One team will see the Honda logo return to its cars for the first time since the Japanese automobile manufacturer announced its exit from the global motorsport series.
- While Red Bull Racing looks to sort out their engine plans for 2026, they are also the subject of rumors in the pitlane that they have exceeded the budget cap which can be put down to either gossip, politicking or a bit of both. FIA was supposed to issue their Certificates of Financial Compliance last Wednesday but this has now been delayed until next Monday. I have to agree with Chris Medland at Racer who opines that the FIA is risking another self-inflicted credibility hit. With the Abu Dhabi fiasco, delayed race starts because of rain, questions over the calendar and sprint races, the FIA is starting to show hints of not quite being on top of things these days which does not bode well for their relationship with the teams and Liberty Media.
- I had mentioned this in a previous edition of the Business of Motorsport but perhaps in light of some of the eye-watering prices that “fans” were charged at the Miami Grand Prix, Las Vegas organizers have announced plans and some details on a general admission section for Las Vegas GP. It will have “affordable” pricing for younger fans and a watch-party feel according to event CEO Renee Wilm as reported in the Sports Business Journal. Wilm did not reveal the pricing of the area but she said: “We also are looking to program the hospitality in such a way where we are appealing to our legacy fans but while also creating these new opportunities for the new fans.” F1 Managing Dir of Commercial Brandon Snow added: “We need to keep that premium-ness to it because at the end of the day it is the pinnacle of motorsports, but we need to make it more accessible.”
- Circuit of the Americas (COTA) Chair Bobby Epstein expects the track will break its own attendance record with this month’s F1 Aramco U.S. Grand Prix, and despite industry rumors, he said the venue is currently not for sale. “Epstein, speaking to SBJ on Friday, said that COTA changed its mind on reducing attendance after the city of Austin added a five-lane road to the track and because the circuit was able to make infrastructure improvements. For ingress/egress, the track will increase the shuttle buses serving fans from 325 last year to more than 600 this year, along with creating a designated bus stop near the front gate that can process 25,000 people, Epstein said. The track also added grandstands to create for more reserved seating. As a result, COTA once again sold tickets that will result in more than 400,000 people attending over the weekend.”
- Blackbook Motorsport looks inside the deal with F1’s Ian Holmes on what Sky’s rights extension means for the series. “I think that decision to create [a Formula One] channel was instrumental,” Ian Holmes, director of media rights at Formula One, tells the BlackBook. “Over the course of a race weekend, they’ve got so much more capacity to cover the sport in all its glory. A lot of the other F1 broadcasters around the world are taking note, it’s provided something of a blueprint as to what you can do with Formula One rights.”
- Chinese automaker Geely announced last week that it had purchased a minority 7.6% stake in British luxury automaker Aston Martin reports The Drive. “Geely’s significant holdings in other brands could compel Aston Martin to consider one of its shared platforms for the luxury automaker’s shift to electrified vehicles. What’s more, deeper pockets for Aston Martin bolster the automaker’s prospects—which have been habitually grim for decades. The automaker has struggled to turn meaningful profits since going public in 2018—and for many years prior to that.”
General Motorsport Industry News
- Speed Cafe reports that Ford Australia would like to see more competition in the Repco Supercars Championship so it can prove itself against more brands. Only the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang will compete in Supercars for the first year of Gen3, despite a significant lead-in time to its introduction with COVID delays. “Ford’s Vice President of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) Product Programs, Trevor Worthington, encouraged more brand participation. Asked directly whether he would like to see Toyota and Nissan get involved in Gen3, Worthington said: “Absolutely, always. The more the merrier.”
- Formula E has long held ambitions to race in Japan and now that looks set to come to fruition in 2024 as they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a race that is planned to be staged in the area around Tokyo Big Sight, Japan’s largest international exhibition centre.
- Carlos Ezpeleta, chief sporting officer at Dorna Sports, admits that ‘there are things we have to do better.’ He outlines to Blackbook Motorsport how the global motorcycling series is looking to address its current issues. “There was always going to be somewhat of a hangover for MotoGP coming to terms with life after Valentino Rossi, the legendary seven-time champion who retired in 2021 after 20 years of racing at the top level. His heir apparent Marc Márquez has struggled for fitness in recent years, so fans have also been robbed of a fitting replacement for the Italian great.”
- Despite their financial struggles, W Series Chief executive officer Catherine Bond Muir says she is “pretty confident” the W Series can overcome its ongoing financial difficulties. Whether they will be able to make the last two races in the USA and Mexico should be decided in the next few days.
- MotorSport Vision (MSV) has been selected as the approved buyer for the freehold purchase of Navarra Circuit in northern Spain after a tender process. “As part of the purchase agreement with NICDO, MSV will invest in a wide programme of upgrades, including the complete resurfacing of the Navarra track. Furthermore, the current management team at Navarra will be maintained and expanded, whilst MSV has also committed to working closely with NICDO to ensure the change of ownership generates significant benefits to the local region” according to Daily Sportscar.
- Formula Racing Academy has been launched to carry on the traditions from the Bertil Roos Racing School. “Bertil Roos Racing School, which was founded by its namesake in 1975, is now closing. However, the same team of instructors, mechanics, office personnel, along with the cars and teachings will live on with the newly formed Formula Racing Academy. With more personalized instruction than offered at other schools, Formula Racing Academy remains focused on the philosophy that the quality of the education is the utmost of importance. All programs remain “arrive and drive” where all you need to bring is a positive attitude.”
Motorsport Sponsorship News
- Team BRIT has received a sponsorship boost thanks to Vodafone Business. Team BRIT is the only competitive all-disabled racing team in the world and supports people with physical and psychological challenges in accessing motorsport. It has developed the world’s most advanced hand control technology which enables disabled drivers to race against able bodied competitors and aims to become the first ever all-disabled team to race in the Le Mans 24 Hour. “Vodafone Business branding was displayed across the team’s McLaren 570S GT4 at its recent race with drivers Bobby Trundley, who is autistic, and Aaron Morgan, who is a paraplegic, competing in the penultimate round of the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch. The pair, whose helmets and race suits also displayed the Vodafone branding, have made history this year as the first all-disabled team to have competed in British GT – one of the most hotly contested endurance championships in the UK.”
- Ferrari have added cyber security and digital data protection company Bitdefender to their sponsorship portfolio after signing a multi-year agreement with the company. “From the 2023 season, Bitdefender branding will appear on the drivers’ race suits and on team apparel.”
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Formula Scout answers the question of how has MP Motorsport become F2’s best-run team? “There’s no magic to any of it. There is no magic to motorsport. We all think that there is or hope that there is. I’ve been in motorsport myself probably longer than I care to remember. People say you only get out of life what you put in, and I think in motorsport you only get out half of what you put in. It is intense and you’re competing against people with the same level of drive. So it’s hard work. Because like anything, if you stand still you go backwards.”
- After their final race as an Audi Sport partnered team in the season finale of the GT World Challenge Europe yesterday, WRT recently rolled out a pair of new BMW M4 GT3s for a test at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, seemingly confirming their switch to BMW for GT3. “The collaboration between BMW M Motorsport and BMW M Team WRT on the racetrack has kicked off with a day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona (ESP). The team and some of its drivers used the day after the season finale in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe for a first chance to gain experience with the BMW M4 GT3 that the team is going to be racing in the upcoming season, parallel to testing with the BMW M Hybrid V8.”
- Motorsport Week reports that AJ Foyt Racing is hoping to return to long-term stability within its IndyCar operations to help get the team back on form in the near future. “There’s just always been so many things changing year to year. This is going to be a big step, I think, in us turning around some of our competitiveness and just being able to build around a long-term program and put some pieces in place for multiyear years.”
- Juncos Hollinger Racing will hold a series of IndyCar driving exhibitions in Argentina from November 4-9 as part of an initiative by team owner Ricardo Juncos to raise interest and support for the NTT IndyCar Series to make a racing return to his home country. “As an Argentinean and understanding what motorsport of this hierarchy means, it fills us with pride, the whole Juncos Hollinger Racing team, our friends and all the immense amount of people who in different ways collaborated to make this possible. I think this is a very important step forward in terms of promoting IndyCar, not only in Argentina but also in all Latin America, and I hope it will be the basis that will allow us in the near future to have our country more involved in the IndyCar Series championship.”
- New sports car racing team Thaze Competition is set to enter two Mercedes-AMG GT4s in next year’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in the GS class. “While our passion for motorsport is at the heart of this project, we have a keen focus on sound business practices and commercial opportunities that will allow the team to be financially sustainable for the long term,” team principal Faisal Ahmad said.
- F1 Feeder Series explains how R2Race want to tackle F4 UAE: We provide 100 percent of the effort. “Our idea is to move the cars to Italy,” he told F1 Feeder Series. “Of course, it would be nice to compete in F4 Italy or F4 Spain, but we are really considering just to make a test team in Europe, providing our team service for the drivers [wanting to] prepare themselves and doing kilometres before their racing debut. These are our two options: either racing or just doing a testing team. But now we want to be focused for the UAE racing season.”
Motorsport Movers & Shakers
- James Rossiter has joined the Maserati MSG Formula E squad as its new team principal, calling time on his racing career to succeed Jerome D’Ambrosio at the helm. “I want to finish my professional career as a driver, so I can put all of my energy into into this – I think it’s the right thing to do.”
- Arrow McLaren SP has announced multiple management changes within the team for the 2023 season, which is expanding from two to three cars next season. “This leadership team has decades of racing success, with each bringing their own expertise to the group which will be a differentiator for the team as we grow to a three-car lineup in 2023 and continue to build on our heritage in the sport,” said Zak Brown.
- Matt Stone Racing has announced a reshuffle of its management structure with co-owner Jason Gomersall stepping back from the Supercars team. The squad, which runs under the Truck Assist Racing banner in Supercars, confirmed via a statement that Gomersall will “step back from his advisory position within the team.”