This week I feature a great article on how the Canadian Grand Prix has persevered all these years. In typical Canadian fashion, the race has quietly become one of the most popular races on the calendar.
In addition to this, this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport is jam-packed due to my being away last week so relax and take your time to enjoy news from F1 (a Zanzibar Grand Prix?), Le Mans (packed stands and increased viewership), Ford going to Dakar and why luxury brands are attracted to Formula 1.
I also have the latest motorsport sponsorship news and partnership deals, how a Trans Am team is introducing a brand-new chassis to the series and what has happened to McLaren’s old Woking factory.
All this and much more in the Business of Motorsport on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
As the FIA begins the process of reviewing potential new Formula 1 teams, F! CEO Stefano Domenicali believes that 10 teams are more than enough.
“This is a very interesting question (what is the right number of teams) because there are different positions and there are also legal implications to what we have to say,” Domenicali told F1’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast. “I think to be honest, if the real value that it is bringing to the sport is important and is real and stable for the future, there is also another consideration that you have to take. If the contest is growing — which is what we can see today — I think 10 teams are more than enough to create the show or the business and the attention that we want to see on the track.”
You can see the attraction as apparently current teams are being offered to be purchased for almost billions.
We all know that F1 is riding a wave of popularity primarily due to what is being referred to as the Netflixification of sport. How did a sport that struggled for decades to attract American interest become so big that there are now 3 races in the United States? Worth Magazine digs deep to find out how Formula One drives billions.
“It offers the sampling vital to any reality show: desperado playboys, honest competitors, perfidious sponsors, and family dynasties (not unlike the plot of Talladega Nights). “Formula One is the ultimate competition…the drivers have an almost fighter-pilot-like mentality,” Christian Horner, Principal of the now dominant Red Bull Racing Team, says to the camera in one episode. In a country that holds reality TV near and dear to its heart, F1 has found the perfect way into the American market. And its influence is here to stay.”
While the growth of F1 has been phenomenal, this article on Autosport Plus explains why F1’s quest for more isn’t always better. “Their proposition is that, as sport becomes increasingly hijacked to feed media companies’ demands to provide 24/7 entertainment to customers, the main event becomes diluted.”
As I prepare to attend my home Grand Prix this weekend, Autosport has an excellent piece on how the Montreal race has persevered despite the roller coaster of demand for F1 south of its border. “It’s allowed us to think wider,” says Dumontier. “Not only for the next race but think long term. And always thinking about how we can improve the fan experience, the team experience. This is what we do on a yearly basis, find what can we do to improve.”
While Montreal is locked in until 2031, a sold out Spa finds itself once again on the precipice of being dropped but they are not going down without a fight.
“Meanwhile, Spa is continuing to double down on its efforts to improve its fan experience for the 2023 edition, which is as good as sold out. The only tickets still available on the event website include an “experience in the sky” lunch served atop a 150ft crane as guests enjoy unparalleled views of the Ardennes circuit.”
With a potential South African Grand Prix off the table until 2025 at the earliest, other candidates from Africa have been mentioned. While Morocco and Rwanda have been rumored to be showing interest, Joe Saward brings news of talk about a Grand Prix in Zanzibar.
With the recent news that Liberty Media is ranked #1950 in the Forbes Global 2000, Endeavor chief executive Ari Emanuel has revealed that the agency giant nearly bought Formula One around the time of the sale to Liberty Media seven years ago.
“I wanted to buy Formula One right away. Now at the time, they didn’t have the [Drive to Survive] TV show, a bunch of stuff had not been in place, which [Liberty has] done an incredible job [with]. We understandably, because, you know – I think it was US$10 billion – said no. I understand why, because we had just bought this [UFC]. We had not even accomplished anything. The timing was wrong. So that was one that got away that I wish it wouldn’t have.”
Pirelli will be facing competition on the new F1 tire tender as Bridgestone has reportedly registered to bid. Eiichi Suzuki, Bridgestone’s manager of motorsports planning: “We are always thinking about what and how we can best supply our motorsports activities in global categories, including F1. Of course, we are conducting research on such matters.”
Ferrari plans to stick with F1 as its CEO says that racing drives innovation. “A lot of technologies can go from the track to the road,” CEO Benedetto Vigna said on Monday in an interview at Bloomberg’s Italy Capital Markets Forum. That will drive the Maranello, Italy-based producer to continue investing in racing, he said.”
The Race argues how Honda’s F1 ‘exit’ U-turn has risked beyond looking silly. “The justification for Honda’s exit never really held water, nor does its rationale for returning now. There were no lies then or now, but there were and continue to be a lot of half-truths.”
F1 Arcade, the series’ experiential entertainment venue ventures, has secured UK£30 million (US$37.7 million) worth of investment to aid in its global expansion plans. The funding round attracted notable investors, led by Formula One and Liberty Media, with participation from investment firm Imbiba. Support in the Formula One paddock came from McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown, as well as drivers Lando Norris and Logan Sargeant. F1 Arcade is aiming to add more venues in Europe, the Middle East and Australia, as well as expanding in the UK and US.
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Despite saying they would not join in on the live sports streaming bandwagon, Nextflix may soon livestream a golf tournament featuring F1 drivers and pro golfers.
“If you never thought that Formula 1 and pro golf could go together, Netflix begs to differ. The streaming service is said to be in talks to livestream its first ever sporting event, a celebrity golf tournament featuring F1 drivers and professional golfers, according to The Wall Street Journal. It would reportedly feature personalities from Full Swing and Drive to Survive, Netflix documentaries that follow F1 drivers and pro golfers. Talks are still preliminary, according to the WSJ.”
General Motorsport Industry News
Blackbook Motorsport reports that the 24 Hours of Le Mans saw 325,000 fans attend last weekend’s centenary edition of the historic endurance race. While the sellout crowd falls below the overall record of 400,000 for the legendary 1969 race, streaming platform MotorTrend saw a 59 per cent increase in viewers in US and Canada.
It is “more likely than not” that a new venue will feature on the IndyCar calendar in 2024, and “more than one option” being considered is outside of the United States. “Momentum has built since Ricardo Juncos made his team full-time in the series, and interest has exploded since Juncos signed one of Argentina’s most famous sports people – Agustin Canapino, who has impressed in his first season in IndyCar despite his lack of experience in single-seaters and racing outside Argentina.”
Speed Cafe reports that teams in support of an expanded Supercars calendar. “Twelve is the minimum in the television rights contract with Fox Sports/Foxtel but category kingpin Barclay Nettlefold, Chairman of parent company RACE (Racing Australia Consolidated Enterprises), recently told Speedcafe that it is his goal for a 15-event season in 2024.”
NASCAR is reportedly in talks to bring a race to Montreal according to Sports Business Journal. “NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell told SBJ in February that NASCAR was looking at possible Cup Series races in both Mexico and Canada among other countries internationally, as it looks to grow its global presence. Now, sources have identified Montreal as one of those specific cities that is in talks. The negotiations are said to be ongoing and not yet complete, so they could end without a deal or see the proposed races delayed beyond 2024.”
Blackbook Motorsport reports that the World Rally Championship (WRC) event in Mexico contributed 695 million pesos (€35.6 million) to the local economy. Juan José Álvarez Brunel, Guanajuato secretary of tourism, said: “The exposure that the state has through the multiple transmissions shows our organisational capacity, the beauty of our secondary roads, the environment and the great stories that are lived in Guanajuato. This edition was full of surprises with the incorporation of new municipalities and new venues that allow us to demonstrate that Guanajuato is the ideal destination for large-scale events.”
W Series has gone into administration, less than a year after its third season was ended early due to financial difficulties. “The Company had been unable to commit to the 2023 race season due to its liquidity position. The directors had been in discussions with various parties to provide additional funding together with a potential sale of the business. Unfortunately, these discussions did not progress. The Joint Administrators will explore all available options to allow the W Series to restart in the future.”
Porsche could double its current allocation of customer 963s next year according to Porsche LMDh factory director Urs Kuratle, who indicated there’s a “big chance” of additional cars for both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “It’s not a secret,” he told Sportscar365. “We are talking with our existing customers whether they want to buy a second car, as that makes sense. But that’s obviously a huge investment for everybody. There are also some new clients, some teams that would be new to us, and we’re talking with those guys as well.”
Meanwhile, Porsche’s factory racing cars at Le Mans generated €549,750 in charitable donations. “Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, Research and Development, affirmed Porsche’s enduring commitment to social responsibility. He commented, “Porsche has always been mindful of its role as a socially responsible company. Through the ‘Racing for Charity’ initiative, we have successfully integrated this ethos into motorsport for the very first time.” Steiner underscored Porsche’s decision to augment the original donation amount, emphasizing the company’s belief that motorsport and people are intrinsically linked in their DNA.“
Ford has launched a fully-fledged factory Dakar Rally program with its long-term World Rally Championship partner M-Sport and cross-country rally specialist Neil Woolridge Motorsport.
Last Monday, Michael Andretti’s Andretti Acquisition filed paperwork for a shareholder vote to extend its time frame for finding a deal until next April. Andretti has $200 million for a motorsports or automotive target according to Sportico.
The World Rallycross (World RX) Championship recorded a 25 per cent year-over-year (YoY) increase in attendance at its season-opening race in Portugal.
GM has confirmed the structure of their Corvette GT3 program and have confirmed that the factory racing team is officially dead. Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM Sports Car Racing Manager, told DSC this week: “Our desired plan has been to launch in 2024 with four cars racing in IMSA – two in GTD Pro and two in GTD – two cars in the WEC and two in SRO America.”
Automobili Lamborghini is celebrating its 60th year as a car company and the company has much to look forward to in the coming year with the launch of the new Revuelto and its LMDh car entering WEC and IMSA competition next year. “On the Super Trofeo side, we are doing very well,” says Vice President of Motorsport Maruizio Reggiani. “We have sold out 60 cars that we are delivering worldwide, more than 20 GT3 cars. We also have more requests than what we can offer, honestly. So in terms of sales and business, we are really satisfied.”
The FIA has released the invitation to tender to be the engine supplier for its Formula 3 championship through the 2025 to 2027 seasons according to Formula Scout. “Having published the tender documentation last Monday, the FIA has set a submission deadline of July 10 for interested suppliers, and its decision on which bidders have been approved will be sent to F3’s promoter Formula Motorsport on July 31.”
An FIA delegation led by Manuel Aviñó, the federation’s vice president for sport Europe, has completed a location check for the planned Auto Moto Park Albania, which is set to become the country’s first international racing venue. Auto Moto Park Albania aims to initially obtain a Grade 3 of FIA Circuit License, enabling it to host events with cars with a power-to-weight ratio of 2-3kg/bhp, such as Formula 3, Formula 4, TCR and GT3 vehicles.
Archerfield Speedway in the southwest suburbs of Brisbane, Australia closed its doors last weekend after forty-four years of operation.
Experiential Squared (E2), the parent company to global racehorse ownership platform MyRacehorse, has raised US$7 million in a recent funding round and are now eyeing an expansion into NASCAR team ownership.
The British Motorsport Trust has launched a modern new identity, transitioning away from the British Motor Sport Training Trust (BMSTT) as part of the organization’s journey to reach and engage the British motorsport community. Through a bold new identity and website, the British Motorsport Trust will showcase its initiatives and programs to the UK motorsport community through its new positioning.
The Australian Rally Championship will return to using MRF Tyres for the 2024 season and beyond. Having previously been the chosen control tyre for the category from 2017 to 2019, the new MRF ZG3 recently went through a competitive tender process to be chosen as ARC’s tyre choice for the next three seasons. Hoosier, the current 2023 control tyre supplier, will remain until the end of this year’s season.
Motorsport profiles Veloce, the biggest racing name in multi-billion pound Esports industry. “Veloce started out in 2012 as a traditional driver management company (its last ‘real’ driver signing was Jamie Chadwick, who won the W Series title three times and remains on its books today). In 2018, it switched its focus from youngsters who put everything on the line at Silverstone, Spa and Zandvoort to those who rarely leave their bedrooms. It was an inspired business decision. Esports has become a multi-billion-pound industry. The barriers to entry are low, and in feeding and growing its community Veloce has become a media company that gets more eyeballs than Sky Sports F1, as well as an entrepreneurial outlet for the likes of Lando Norris.”
SportsPro Media explains why Apple Vision Pro is the catalyst that VR sports broadcasting needs. “Apple’s first ‘spatial computer’ won’t address these obstacles overnight and at US$3,499 it is not a mass-market proposition. But it is a welcome sign of commitment from Apple that it is ready to use its technical and design resources to catalyse the market, and provide a commercial platform for developers to work with.”
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
F1 has never been hotter, and The Robb Report explains why luxury brands and automakers join forces for Formula One racing.
Echoing Mille’s sentiments, Jayr believes that F1 and luxury, artisanal endeavor–and especially incredible feats of engineering–are natural bedfellows. “At its core, F1 is a battle in which man and machine are pushed to the limit,” he says. “That’s a very emotional, very gritty concept. Motorsport is all about human endeavor at its best—including the creation of those machines. You have so many technology brands associated with it because it’s seen as the pinnacle of technology. We’ve also had a lot of crypto brands trying to make a name for themselves and coming into the sport. F1 has always been a great way for brands to achieve visibility, in terms of its global appeal. It’s pretty unmatched—few sports give you such instant reach.”
Cryptocurrency exchange OKX will again co-design an F1 livery for partner McLaren Racing this season, the crypto firm’s CMO, Haider Rafique, said in an interview after a panel appearance with McLaren CEO Zak Brown and driver Lando Norris at the Tribeca Festival that OKX is sponsoring. OKX and McLaren teamed up last fall on the Future Mode livery that Norris and former teammate Daniel Ricciardo drove in Singapore and Japan.
Quentin Warren, head of motorsport at Prism, part of Wunderman Thompson discusses with Little Black Book increasing sponsorship values that also create a greater spread in partnership possibilities.
Motorsport is booming and effective activation strategies should focus on maximising exposure by identifying the most impactful channels and opportunities, and I don’t only mean communication channels here but the sport itself; choosing the right sport is key. Look at Red Bull’s very existence in Formula 1 – Red Bull don’t sell cars but have a global platform to showcase their brand. There is no doubt that F1 is front-and-centre currently, however through ensuring a strong presence in their chosen property – both on and off the track – brands can generate significant value and achieve their goals in a range of rapidly-growing series.
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- WeatherTech Extends Naming Rights of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for Five Years
- F1 signs North American audio broadcast deal with TuneIn
- AHE fund becomes Ferrari Hypercar programme partner
- F1 signs Chinese streaming deal with Tencent
- Flying high with exciting NetJets partnership | United Autosports
- Aston Martin F1 team sign Stichd merchandising deal
- Max Verstappen losing Jumbo sponsorship with cancellation of €20m sports programme
- World Superbikes signs two-year deal to stream on Douyin
- NASCAR partners with Kraft Analytics Group in deal to better utilize consumer data
- OnlyFans backs Gracie GT4 debut
- Red Line and Skip Barber Extend Their Partnership
- McLaren Racing Boost Partnership Roster with Halo
- WEC and ACO sign long-term Rolex renewal
The Business of Running a Race Team
When the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli arrives at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, driver and team owner Claudio Burtin will unload a brand-new Burtin Racing TA class chassis, which will make its competition debut in Saturday’s race following three years of design and development.
“This is a lifelong dream of mine,” said Burtin. “It’s finally coming to fruition after three years, from conceptual ideas, design to surface plate. TA is a destination class for pro racing. TA cars are the ultimate machines in terms of an American road racing car. Every track Trans Am visits, we’re still breaking track records, which you can’t say for any other series competing in the United States.”
Williams boss James Vowles reckons Formula 1 cost cap changes to allow teams with weaker core infrastructure to invest and match levels established at leading squads are coming in July. This will be critical for Williams as some of their facilities are twenty years out of date.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner admits that Formula 1’s cost cap is obliging teams to rethink their staffing strategies, especially with regard to high-paid employees. “Yeah, of course it does,” he said. “You can’t carry anybody within the team. And I think that everybody has to warrant their place within the cap.”
McLaren Racing looks to be sticking with Mercedes as their engine supplier since working with a new manufacturer is not worth the risk. As they finalize their power unit, they have found a new use for their old Woking factory. “I’m pleased to say that the old factory has been repurposed to become the new McLaren racing composite facility,” Andrea Stella said.
With all the rumors of a title sponsorship with Alfa Romeo, Haas boss Günther Steiner says the team has ‘no intention’ to change its name. “We have no intention to change the team name,” he told BlackBook Motorsport. “Haas will stay Haas, and MoneyGram will be the title sponsor.”
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- United Autosports Moves to IMSA Full-Time in 2024
- Proton Competition to campaign Mustang GT3 in WEC
- GK Racing to debut at Gateway
- Toyota Gazoo Racing Czech formed, Tomas Ourednicek to race Dakar 2024
- Why Is United Autosports Switching To IMSA?
- Trackhouse Racing considers expanding to three cars in 2024 with a shocking top candidate
- Campos family celebrate their team’s 25th anniversary at the Spanish GP
- Riley Confirms Move to LMP2 With Robinson, Fraga in 2024
- Spanish F4 team Saintéloc’s ever-growing ambitions: ‘Our strategy is to join F3 and F2’
Motorsport Movers & Shakers
Extreme E has appointed former McLaren sporting director Mark Grain as its new technical director. In the newly-created role, Grain will oversee the series’ upcoming hydrogen shift. The series is set to debut a prototype of its new hydrogen vehicle next month, ahead of testing and production later this year.
James Key has been announced as the new Technical Director of Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake, and he will join his new team from 1 September 2023.
Forbes looks at Toto Wolff’s Winning Formula. That obsessive pursuit of perfection may be a burden for most people, but in Formula 1 racing, where success can be defined by less than a tenth of a second, it has consistently kept Wolff’s team on the podium. Over the past decade, the 51-year-old Austrian has collected eight Constructors’ Championships, seven Drivers’ titles and an astonishing 115 Grand Prix victories—thanks to his flawless machines and Mercedes’ marquee driver, Lewis Hamilton. It’s an unprecedented run in the sport, befitting other legendary franchises like the New York Yankees and Boston Celtics.