Honda Makes Surprising Reversal in F1 and Other Intriguing Motorsport Developments

Honda making a surprising reversal in F1 highlights this week’s Business of Motorsport Roundup as I cover that and other intriguing motorsport developments.

I also look at whether the AlphaTauri F1 team is or is not for sale, what it is like running the “greatest spectacle in racing,” the possibility of the return of A1 GP and how F2 is riding Formula 1’s commercial boom.

I also have the latest sponsorship deals and partnership news, Mercedes F1’s new Silicon Valley inspired factory renovations and much more.

All this in this week’s Business of Motorsport Roundup. Its business news racers can use.

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Business of Motorsport

Confirming recent rumors, Aston Martin and Honda have announced a works engine partnership to commence in 2026. Aston Martin calls this the “final piece of the jigsaw puzzle” while Honda likes the sustainable direction that Formula 1 is going in. Red Bull meanwhile has obtained assurances that nothing will change in their partnership with Honda until the end of the 2025 season. Chris Medland explains why this is a good deal for both.

“I think we have to be clear, Mercedes have been great partners and they remain that. They are in it to win, and clearly we are here to win as well. Ultimately, there is some incompatibility in those two missions and that’s why we have taken the decision.”

In other Aston Martin news, their stock recently jumped by almost a quarter after the company announced a £234m investment by China’s Geely.

While Aston Martin gets their works engine deal with Honda, Guenther Steiner doesn’t believe Haas will necessarily need a works power unit deal in future to be competitive in Formula 1.

“I don’t want to sound negative but manufacturers come and go, teams stay. So we need to think of that as well. I don’t want to say, ‘We need to be a manufacturer in five years.’ It could also be that maybe we are happy not to be a manufacturer in five years, that is out there as well. So let’s see what time brings but for the moment we are ready for ’26 — we will go with a customer engine and we will make the best out of it.”

Despite the fact that Mark Galagher believes that Red Bull will sell the AlphaTauri team before 2026 because the brand has no relevance, Red Bull have stated categorically that the team is not for sale. “Helmut Marko says Red Bull has decided against selling AlphaTauri or moving it away from its Italian home base, but revealed the Formula 1 team will expand its UK presence.”

As Liberty Media finally takes control of broadcasting duties for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Joe Pompliano in the Huddle Up newsletter explains at a glance everything you need to know about the business behind F1’s most iconic event. He looks at the country’s unique partnership with Formula 1, the cost required to attend the race, its uncertain future, and more.

Drive Sports Marketing looks to answer the question, what’s driving F1’s U.S. boom? “It is very clear that Formula 1 is attracting a new wave of fans representing around a third of the total fan base and 50% of them come from the U.S. They are more digitally savvy, vocal about their passion for the sport and aware of the F1 ecosystem of partners and associated brands. The share of female fans is bigger for new fans vs. established ones, and they are on average 10 years younger.”

Liberty Media CEO has responded to the rumors of a Saudi Arabian F1 sale. “Is there any chance we’re going to sell this thing and incur corporate tax? That should stop any discussion that anyone says that our friends, the Saudis, are going to buy it next week or something like that?” Greg Maffei insisted. “If anybody knows us, they should know that’s just not in our cards.”

Billionaire Calvin Lo said he is having “serious discussions” over a potential F1 involvement after revealing his plans to be part of a new team last year.

“I’m having serious discussions about getting involved right now,” he said. “There’s actually quite a few proposals in front of me right now to see how I can participate. F1 needs more teams. There’s too many talents in motorsport to not have more teams. But when I go through it, it is highly aspirational and absolutely, very ambitious. Still, I’d loved to be involved financially.”

Meanwhile, Haas team boss Guenther Steiner states there needs to be an upside for the current teams in Formula 1 when it comes to entertaining a new addition to the grid. “For me saying it’s 11 or 12, I’m not in a position to know what they bring to the sport,” he responded when asked how many new F1 teams he’d be open to seeing. “But I think if we got more teams, there needs to be an upside for the 10 which are here, you know, and then I think nobody will have anything against it.”

More than 6.8 million viewers have tuned in to watch Netflix’s Drive to Survive, according to the YouGov Sports Whitepaper 2023.

  • 63 per cent of viewers watched at least three episodes in a row
  • 18 to 29 year olds make up 31 per cent of the audience
  • 26 per cent of Drive to Survive fans have no interest in Formula One
  • The gender split of viewers is much more balanced than the sport itself, with 46 per cent being female

Silverstone is seeing 89 per cent of British Grand Prix attendees buy tickets again for the Formula One race the following year, organizers have revealed. “Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said the circuit previously worked on the assumption that one-third of fans who attended the previous year’s race would return 12 months later.”

This week, the latest Sport Industry Socials event of 2023 took place at the F1 Arcade in St. Pauls, London.

“As anybody interested in Formula 1 will know, there is huge growth in the US market for the sport. Therefore we have seen an opportunity and will be heading over to open up sites in the US. This concept is a unique way for fans to engage with the sport in a completely different setting,” Perry said.

Finally, ex-Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordan has revealed that he was in negotiations with Ayrton Senna over a deal that would’ve seen the Brazilian become a joint-owner of Jordan Grand Prix.

“I always liked Ayrton and it should have happened but, suddenly, he died,” Jordan reflected. “Now I’m not saying that he would have done it. But we were very far into the negotiations about what he wanted to do. He wanted to have a team and I was giving him that opportunity.”

General Motorsport Industry News

Honda Makes Surprising Reversal in F1 and Other Intriguing Motorsport Developments

With the 107th edition of the Indy 500 taking place this weekend, BlackBook Motorsport chatted with IMS president Doug Boles on what it takes to host the biggest event in motorsport.

“Boles claims that this is only set to improve this year, with “well over 300,000 people in the venue”, which could “be really close to 325,000” come race day. Boles also reveals that around 180,000 spectators that attend the Indy 500 “renew their tickets within 500 hours” of the race finishing, highlighting the event’s prestige among fans.”

How did Graham Rahal, a Honda-powered end up driving a Chevrolet-powered IndyCar in this Sunday’s Indy 500 at the last minute? Forbes has the Remarkable Story Behind Graham Rahal’s Return To The 2023 Indianapolis 500 Field.

The BBC looks at the return of Lola Cars as they embark on their new chapter in motorsport. “Lola was always at the forefront of motorsport and that’s where I want to bring it back to,” said Mr Bechtolsheimer. “In this new carnation, I want to revive it with a focus on alternative powertrains. For us, it’s electrification, hydrogen and synthetic fuels.”

Coming off a weekend where WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca reported a record increase in advanced ticket sales for its WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series event, IMSA President John Doonan says tracks further along in the IMSA season are also seeing increased interest.

“I’m really proud of the momentum that we’re experiencing as a championship with the first four races of the season in the books,” Doonan said. “But I think more importantly, the overall momentum is from those who are taking in our broadcasts from the NBC broadcasts, or now, our Win the Weekend series.”

“When you’re averaging a million and a half viewers for a 15-minute documentary series, and we’re seeing increases in overall viewership, I think that’s great for the sport, great for all of our teams and partners, and certainly great for IMSA.”

TouringCarTimes spoke to Marcello Lotti, founder of the TCR concept and president of the World Sporting Consulting (WSC) company behind the TCR World Tour and previously ETCR, about his latest creation and the health of TCR worldwide at Algarve.

“First of all we are at the start [of the World Tour],” pointed out Lotti. “I have to say I think that our technical department made a good job [with Balance of Performance] as they’re very close. So it’s a completely new concept, as I discussed with you seven months ago, and we believe a lot in that. Today is the first experience. There are some things that have to be adjusted, clearly, but we believe in this concept and we believe that this TCR World Tour will have to stay at this level [at later rounds]. Frankly I think that the calendar that we select, the existing events…from the track and history and everything, is really top.”

MotoGP has seen a 27 per cent year-over-year (YoY) increase in its weekend TV audience in the first quarter of its 2023 season. 

“We wanted to release [this data] a week ago,” Dan Rossomondo, chief commercial officer of Dorna Sports, series promoter of MotoGP, told BlackBook Motorsport. “But we actually took our time to make sure that we weren’t bullshitting people, and that was one of the things that Carlos [Ezpeleta, chief sporting officer at Dorna Sports] and I really focused on. Because of the increases [due to] the sprints, we could have said some ridiculous things about the entire weekend, so we really took the time to dig through the ratings.”

Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas has held preliminary talks over reviving the bankrupt KymiRing circuit that is theoretically capable of hosting Formula 1 and MotoGP races in his native Finland.

Bottas said: “I would love to see a proper track in Finland, a proper international level of track. But the thing is that the track company is now bankrupt. So, it’s going to be not an easy way from that.”

Honda Makes Surprising Reversal in F1 and Other Intriguing Motorsport Developments

A group of executives are seeking an investment of $100m to revive A1GP which was also known as the World Cup of Motorsport. A1 Grand Prix first launched in 2005 and the teams represented countries rather than brands. The series ran during F1’s off-season but came to an end in 2009 following financial difficulties.

“The teams would be composed of one experienced racing driver, and one younger competitor who would be selected through an annual talent competition that could itself be televised. The series would take place across 12 races in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific between December and July. Sky also report that the series expects to minimise air freight costs for both financial and environmental reasons. In terms of fans, ticket prices would reportedly be low. The cars would also use sustainable fuel in recognition of growing environmental concerns.”

Autosport has more details: Former Alpine F1 boss Budkowski behind A1 GP revival bid

Sam Smith has an excellent piece on the original run of A1 GP in A ‘madman’s’ shark-shaped dream – Inside the original A1GP.

McLaren Racing has announced ‘60 Scholars’, an all-female STEM program designed to support women in motorsport.

  • Applications open to UK-based female students between the ages of 18 and 23
  • ‘60 Scholars’ offers an accelerated course of learning, mentorship and experience
  • Program will be delivered in collaboration with team partners Google, Cisco and Cadence
  • Successful applicants will also benefit from a network of peers and experts to support their career trajectory

The new scheme will be available through the McLaren Racing Careers portal from 29th May. It will be open for female students to apply for a period of two weeks.

Former Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher has opened up about what he sees as a “disaster” for motorsport in his homeland of Germany. “We’ve abolished ourselves from the world in terms of motorsport – and with our eyes open. I pointed this out several times, but obviously it wasn’t wanted.”

Known for decades as the ‘Home of Motorsport’ Calder Park Raceway in Australia is racing towards its goal of resuming on-track action with continual development taking place at the iconic circuit. “It is the Australian home of motorsport coming back to life.”

David Coulthard has criticized companies for failing to “put their money where their mouth is” after the collapse of the W Series.

“On W series, I was involved in helping support the founders and what was disappointing for me, after all of their efforts and all of their blood, sweat and tears and financial investment, was a lot of companies that invest in motorsport currently talk about diversity and inclusion but actually, all that means as they talk about it,” he said on his Formula For Success podcast. “They don’t actually put some money where their mouth is and hopefully that will change over time.”

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

Honda Makes Surprising Reversal in F1 and Other Intriguing Motorsport Developments

With Formula 1’s popularity having boomed in recent years, F2 is also seeing the benefits, with more corporate sponsors attracted to the series and its teams. Invicta Watch Group and Virtuosi Racing’s new title partnership is a sign of things to come.

“Lalo said “the beauty” of linking up with an F2 team allowed them to “bring something new to the table” and “allow us to have a little bit more not only exposure, but control and look and feel and having everything that surrounds the race,” rather than just paying for on-car branding.”

Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.

The Business of Running a Race Team

New Mercedes F1 HQ

The Mercedes F1 team have announced their new Silicon Valley-like campus renovation in Brackley (see photo above) scheduled to be completed by the end of 2025.

“The changes to the facility — which Mercedes has used since 2017 and purchased last year — will include office buildings, restaurants, and gyms. The facility will use 100% renewable energy and aim to reduce water consumption by 50% per person per day, as well as 60% of office waste.”

Chip Ganassi Racing’s managing director Mike Hull has offered his opinion on what the future of the teams racing in IndyCar will look like. “Five years from today there’s going to be 10 teams with three cars each. There’s going to be 30 cars in the series that are well supported. That’s where it’s going.”

The latest episode of “Dinner with Racers” presents the story of Pacific Coast Motorsports, and why qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 can have such dire consequences for the “little guys.”

Team News

Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.

Business of Motorsport
Photo: AO Racing

Motorsport Movers & Shakers

Honda Makes Surprising Reversal in F1 and Other Intriguing Motorsport Developments

Hyundai Motorsport have appointed FX Demaison to take on newly-created role of Technical Director.

“We are pleased to have François-Xavier joining us in Alzenau to lead our technical departments across our motorsport activities,” said our President, Sean Kim. “His extensive experience and achievements will prove invaluable as we look to establish ourselves as the benchmark in our motorsport programmes.”

“The appointment of François-Xavier as Technical Director is another exciting step in the journey of our company and the N Brand,” added Till Wartenberg, Vice President N Brand & Motorsport. “In just ten short years we have achieved great things and we are well placed to continue to grow and develop in the years ahead.”

Is this appointment a prelude to Hyundai racing in the WEC in the near future as I mentioned last week? Time will tell.

Business of Motorsport

Women in Motorsports North America (WIMNA), a leading non-profit organization dedicated to enabling opportunities for women across all motorsport disciplines, has announced the appointment of Cindy Sisson as its new Executive Director.

This strategic decision marks an exciting chapter in the organization’s journey as it continues positively impacting the motorsports industry. The announcement was made last Tuesday during a special event at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles that included a screening of the award-winning documentary film “Paula Murphy: Undaunted”, of which she was the co-producer. The announcement came from WIMNA co-founders Lyn St. James and Beth Paretta, who continue their roles as co-chairpersons of WIMNA’s Board of Directors.

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.