An inside tour of the McLaren Technology Centre is just one of the highlights of this week’s Business of Motorsport News Roundup column.
In addition to that I have an update on Ford in F1, Michael Andretti’s plans for an F1 team, Porsche Motorsport’s grand ambitions for 2023, Red Bull Racing terminating a crypto sponsor early and a German race team looking to compete in NASCAR.
All this plus the latest motorsport deals and partnerships as well as what teams are going where in 2023 plus much more in the final Business of Motorsport News Roundup column for 2022.
Motorsport Industry News
The speculation continues on what new manufacturers may be joining F1 in 2026. While Porsche explains how they had a handshake deal with Red Bull Racing, the team is now being increasingly linked to a Ford return to F1. While Ford are tight-lipped on their plans, Racing News 365 does a good job of explaining why it may happen and why it may not. To give context to why a manufacturer may want to get involved in F1, and more importantly perhaps, why they may not, Joe Saward looks at manufacturers in 2026 and whether or not “badging” an engine makes economic sense. “Whether badging machinery in F1 really works is an interesting discussion. It isn’t against the rules and it’s a cheap way to get value out of the sport, although one must ask whether Alfa Romeo has really gained anything from doing it.”
Last week I had mentioned how French Grad Prix organizing company was being wound up. Now Planet F1 reports that they wind up has been postponed indefinitely due to an outstanding €27m deficit. “The debate centres around the absence of a ‘certain number of requested documents’, as well as the provisional sharing of the reimbursement of the sum between various interested parties: the PACA region, the Toulon-Provence-Mediterranean metropolises, Nice Cote d’Azur, and Aix-Marseilles-Provence, amongst others.”
Michael Andretti insists “we’re getting really close” when asked about his plans for an F1 team. The team would be financed in part by Group 1001—a financial services company that already sponsors Andretti’s NTT IndyCar Series team via the Gainbridge brand. “Also involved in Andretti’s F1 bid is Guggenheim, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is said to be backing the new Andretti factory and willing to pay the $200 million entry fee for a Formula 1 franchise.”
When talking about the current popularity of F1, McLaren Racing’s Zak Brown revealed the massive financial difference from just a few years ago. “We were losing £100million when I started, which is a documented number. Now, we are cashflow positive which will turn into profit.”
If Michael Andretti gets his team on the grid, he may be curious to know when he starts to look for a team boss which F1 team boss earns the most? Hint: it’s not Guenther Steiner.
Finally, parroting the IOC, the FIA have announced that they are banning all political statements without prior approval. How this is supposed to align with their “We Race As One” initiative and banning Russian drivers is anybody’s guess but I sense this will not go down well, especially as the ban is so open ended and vague.
General Motorsport Industry News
Porsche have provided an extensive overview of their factory motorsport commitments for 2023. “In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team pursues overall wins with two 963 hybrid prototypes fielded in each series. In the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team has set its sights on claiming the title with the new 99X Electric Gen3. Many Porsche customer teams will race the 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 R on GT stages worldwide.”
An important change is coming to Chevrolet’s NTT IndyCar Series effort as the reigning manufacturers’ championship winner Chevy has shifted their IndyCar effort to their brand-new GM Charlotte Technical Center in North Carolina. “A little over two years ago, Eric Warren and I came over to motorsports with the charter from our leadership, Mark Reuss and company, to move motorsports more in house,” Mark Stielow, GM’s director of motorsports competition engineering, told RACER. “Eric and I have led the charge on developing the tool chain, and with that, we stood up the new Charlotte Tech Center and in that building will be a lot of shared resources between all of our race programs. So NASCAR, IndyCar, and sports car will all run out of this operation in Charlotte. Then I’ll have the sister operation in Milford, Michigan, based in the Milford proving ground campus, to make sure we have tight linkage back to the (manufacturer) side for technology transfer.”
Honda explains to Racer how racing is in their DNA. “That interaction between road and racetrack will only become stronger as motorsports follows production cars in moving more toward hybridization and electrification. Motorsports can help accelerate improvements in areas such as power generation, cooling, battery technology and weight reduction, but Salters sees another huge benefit in…recruitment.”
PMW contributor Bozi Tatarevic recently flagged up that NASCAR has updated its rulebook to place limits on the cost and capabilities of the driver-in-the-loop simulators that teams are permitted to install on their premises.
If you missed any of the online sessions from Race Industry Week 2022, you can binge watch over the holidays as all the recordings are now available.
The SCCA has announced a number of initiatives for 2023 including an increase in various fees. “To keep the SCCA momentum against the economic headwinds, we had to review and adjust fees across Membership, Licensing, Sanctions and Insurance,” noted Cobb. “But I’m glad to say that we were able to keep the adjustments much lower than the CPI reported over the last several years.”
Motorsport Australia have announced that 34 clubs have received funding from the Supercheap Auto Club Development Fund and a further 12 Motorsport Australia affiliated clubs will share in more than $12,000 through the 2022 Supercheap Auto Club Development Fund. Supported by Supercheap Auto, the program is targeted at supporting the growth and development of affiliated clubs and has delivered grants of more than $100,000 through Motorsport Australia over recent years.
On 15 December, at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Advocate General Athanasios Rantos (AG Rantos) delivered two significant Opinions for the future of sports governance in Europe. The Opinions related to (i) a Spanish Commercial Court’s European Super League (ESL) request for a preliminary ruling (the ESL Opinion); and (ii) whether the General Court’s judgment of 16 December 2020 in respect of the International Skating Union (ISU) case should be set aside (the ISU Opinion). The governance role of sports governing bodies (SGBs) has increasingly been threatened in recent years by legal challenges. Competition law has been a common theme at the heart of a number of disputes concerning football, ice skating, cycling and equestrian sports, to name a few (see here, here, and here for our previous analysis). The European Sports Model (a concept recently reaffirmed by the European Commission) has been highlighted in the ISU and ESL cases, with AG Rantos’ Opinions providing significant clarification on the Model’s position under EU law. Law firm Linklaters reviews the ESL decision and its implications to sports governance in what they call a “body blow for breakaway sports events.”
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
Red Bull Racing is ending their Tezos sponsorship deal just over a year after the initial agreement. “Now it appears as though the agreement has been terminated early, with Tezos no longer included on the list of partners featured on the team’s website. In addition, the company’s branding was absent during Red Bull’s recent show run. The Formula One outfit has yet to comment on the current status of the deal.” SportTechie looks at the potential reasons why.
At last week’s Formula E testing in Valencia, the returning Abt Cupra team unveiled ZF and Südpack as partners ahead of the new season.
MotoGP racing team Repsol Honda Team has announced a new partnership with British sportswear brand Castore. The new deal will see Castore provide Honda Racing Corporation’s motorcycling team with teamwear from the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season onwards in a multi-year agreement.
A three-year term has been agreed between Formula Drift and GT Radial which will see the company continue to supply its tires to competitors within the Pro Championship until 2025. GT Radial has also extended its supply agreement as the official tire supplier of the Prospec series for an additional two years. Teams competing in this series will continue to use the GT Radial Champiro SX2RS tire which is produced at Giti’s plant in Chester County, South Carolina.
Stratasys Ltd., a company that has produced the first-ever 3D printed parts for the Next Gen cars, has been named a NASCAR Competition Partner. Stratasys and NASCAR began working together last fall when testing a cooling device for drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It resulted in the windshield air ducts that have been in all cars since the beginning of the season and debuted in the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum.
The Business of Running a Race Team
Planet F1 go behind the scenes at the legendary McLaren Technology Centre to see what happens in a building that has literally been a set in a Star Wars TV series. “For a team whose slogan is ‘Fearlessly Forward’, it is clear that the MTC serves as the building block for progress but the very first sight you see as you enter the northern entrance is a reminder of what came before.”
The Race looks at Gavin Ward and the vision guiding McLaren IndyCar team’s new ex-F1 boss. “The McLaren IndyCar operation has gone through a transition, since McLaren took over the Schmidt Peterson team for 2020, in trying to understand how best to implement working practices from its F1 team, add personnel and invest in the infrastructure.
Ex-Williams Grand Prix boss Jost Capito is blaming the previous management team for Williams failure in F1. “Detailing the processes that were lacking, Capito added: “There was not a proper ERP [enterprise resource planning] system to run the factory. There was no project management. “It was very much based on experience with employees but when the company grows so big then you need proper processes in place.”
Zak Brown of McLaren Racing is looking forward to be able to compete in sports car racing and Le Mans in the future. “I’d love to see us at Le Mans in sports car racing,” Brown said. “We have a lot going on — the stars all need to align and be in the right place at the right time, make sure we’re happy with our existing programs, but if I could wave a magic wand and be in one other racing series it would be in sports cars.”
IMSA’s John Doonan explains how the pace of innovation is attracting top engineering talent to IMSA GTP teams. “Simply making small steps to improve our series differs from the pace of change we aspire to here at IMSA. We are driven to ensure our series remains at the forefront of endurance sports car racing – delivering the most cost-effective, entertainment-driven, and competitive platform. To continue as leaders in the automotive industry, roughly five years ago, we slowed enough to look at new ways to innovate and compete. A new set of regulations was shaped and announced just two years ago, enabling manufacturers to design, build, and race the ultimate expression of their brands. The rule set guides how a car looks, performs, and competes sustainably.”
German team owner Dennis Hirtz wants to enter the top class of NASCAR with his 3F Racing team and has already taken some initial steps to get started. Hirtz, 39, has purchased his NASCAR license as an owner and secured the No. 30 entry. 3F Racing has been incorporated as a company and registered in the United States. “Where will be a big surprise in American racing from spring 2023, because from then on German will be spoken there for the first time,” Hirtz told Motorsport.com. “The wording is very important to me, because we want to build a U.S. team with roots in Germany.”
Key Matt Stone Racing figure Jason Gomersall is set to branch out with his own race team in 2023. “I’ll be running some cars… Some of them were always mine, I’ve sold one, I’m leasing one out, and then I’ll be running a couple,” he explained.
The IMSA website has a great feature on The Heart of Racing team and their 2022 Zero-to-Hero Saga. “All of our drivers get along very well and that’s one of our core beliefs,” James said. “We have to have a group of people, doesn’t matter how talented you are, they enjoy each other’s company. That’s one of our underlying decision-making factors when we decide on drivers and crew.”
LA Honda World Racing has announced a two-car, full season IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR class campaign and will be among the first teams to debut the new Honda Civic FL5 Type R next spring. The Southern California-based team will utilize the existing Honda Civic Type R TCR for the opening races at Daytona International Speedway and Sebring International Raceway prior to an expected April delivery date for the new-for-2023 FL5 model, which was announced earlier this month.
AWA will return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series with two LMP3 entries for the entirety of the 2023 season, the team announced. The Canada-based team will run a pair of Duqueine D08 cars. “We learned a lot after our successful first LMP3 campaign last year, and I am elated to be participating in my second WeatherTech season. We now have a year under our belts, and the learning curve won’t be as steep,” Fidani said.
This will be the last Business of Motorsport News Roundup of 2022. I am taking a break to recharge my batteries and relax with family and friends over the holidays. A new edition will be published on January 6, 2023. Happy holidays everyone!