Is the FIA fit for purpose? That is what a number of people are asking, especially after this week and it is all part of the Business of Motorsport this week.
I also bring you details of MotoGP’s new American team and their expansion plans, why Formula E is not instituting a salary cap and CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz on F1 sponsorship and revenue generation.
All this plus the latest sponsorship deals, partnership news and global race team developments on the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
Is the FIA fit for purpose? That is the question that is inevitably being raised after the latest incident involving the FIA where they announced that they were investigating some sort of collusion between Toto and Susie Wolff and then dropped it almost as quickly. The odd part of this is that the investigation was not based on a complaint from any of the teams but apparently from one F1-related publication.
It is no secret that tension exists between FOM and the FIA, but this does not help the FIA’s cause in the least. Was the complaint legitimate? Hard to say and the FIA has a duty to investigate but in a way that affords complete transparency in what they are doing and why. Not even the teams knew about this investigation until it was announced to the world on WhatsApp. If Mohammed ben Sulayem is looking to make an impact on motorsport, this is arguably not the way to do it.
The job of the FIA is to regulate motorsport, not to prove who is in charge or otherwise make a name for itself. It operates best when it does so in the background, quietly, efficiently, and accurately. This is not the kind of FIA we have been seeing these past few years. It needs to do better.
Here is some of the analysis of what this could all mean.
- What exactly is going on with the FIA’s investigation into Toto and Susie Wolff? (RacingNews365)
- How the FIA/Wolff case could shape F1’s political landscape (Autosport Plus)
- FIA’s swift, unsatisfactory end to controversial Wolff/F1 saga (The Race)
- The lingering questions that remain from the unnecessary FIA/Wolff saga (Autosport)
Former FIA President and Ferrari Team Boss Jean Todt has weighed in on Felippe Massa’s 2008 Championship lawsuit and opines that the Singapore Grand Prix was rigged and that the race should have been canceled. It is doubtful that this will make any difference in Massa’s legal proceedings and the FIA will most probably argue that if anything, Renault should have been excluded from the final results but otherwise the results should stand.
A lot of hand wringing over the decline in US TV F1 viewership figures but the reality is that 2023 was the second-most watched season, behind only last year. All this in spite of the dominance of Max Verstappen.
Formula One could race in Madrid on a ten-year contract from 2026, according to BlackBook Motorsport .Previous reports from Spanish daily sports newspaper and the president of the executive committee of Ifema Madrid, , indicated Madrid would agree the contract from 2027. The plan is for the race to be held around the fairground of the Ifema Madrid exhibition centre. It would be a semi-permanent track, like the Formula One circuits in Canada and Australia, rather than a street circuit.
When pro golfer Rory McIlroy was asked why he picked the Alpine F1 team to invest in, he admitted that there has to be a fun element too.
“When we got the pitch deck from Alpine, they shared their thoughts about the future, and what they think they can do. They have a really cool Academy and growth [plan] for the future – they are thinking about nurturing the next generation of drivers coming along. It felt like they had a really good mindset around it, a lot of long-term strategy. I saw a great opportunity to get involved.”
As Las Vegas Grand Prix organizers prepare for 2024 (with plenty of surprises apparently), a good sign of its success was the coverage of the race in non-motorsport/sports media. Here are just a few with a wonderful nod to the classic Hunter S. Thompson piece on the Kentucky Derby.
- The Las Vegas Grand Prix is decadent and depraved—and a massive commercial success (AirMail)
- What It Was Like Inside F1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix (Esquire)
- How Well Did Vegas Pull Off Its First F1 Race? Depends Who You Ask – Men’s Journal (Men’s Journal)
The SportsRush ponders whether NASCAR’s richest driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has enough money to enter Formula 1? “But since the teams gather a good chunk of their revenue from sponsorships (60% sponsors and 40% central revenue as per Forbes) there could be a chance for someone like Junior to get into the sport, but perhaps as a part owner.”
General Motorsport Industry News
The news that Trackhouse racing will be entering MotoGP next year is perfect timing for Dorna. As BlackBook Motorsport makes clear in their year-end 2023 review, American expansion is part of the plans for the motorcycle series going forward.
Much like Formula One, the US market is the focus. The series currently has one stateside race at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for further expansion. “I don’t think [Formula One] has a stranglehold on the market,” Rossomondo previously told BlackBook Motorsport. “The US is a pretty big market and they can sustain more than one global motorsport event, and I think we’ll be able to find our niche there for sure.”
After the latest WMSC meeting, the FIA awarded a number of tenders. Hankook will be replacing Pirelli as the tire supplier for the World Rally Championship.
In Formula E news, Bridgestone was amongst the tender winners for the Formula E Gen4 car. Bridgestone will produce two different types of tire for the series. This will include a ‘baseline’ rubber which will be a grooved all-weather tire that “must guarantee sufficient grip to ensure safe racing in light rain” and a second ‘typhoon’ rubber that will be “mandatory in heavy rain”. Other winners were Podium Advanced Technologies who is set to provide the battery for the Gen4 machines, the front powertrain will be provided by Marelli and the Spark Racing Technologies group who will continue to supply the chassis.
Speaking of Formula E, The Race explains why the series has scrapped plans for a 2024 driver salary cap.
“We have to remember we’re only in the first year of the cost cap,” said Avalanche Andretti Team Principal Roger Griffiths before confirmation that the clause would not come into effect. “We’re still trying to figure out exactly how it is going to work, what is eligible to be charged to the cost cap versus what’s outside of the cost cap, and I think we just need to see a season or two’s worth of data from that, and to get comfortable with how we’re working the cost cap, how it’s being audited and how it’s being measured.”
Sports Business Journal reports that NASCAR is looking to create ‘intercontinental tournament’ between its national series (via BlackBook Motorsport). NASCAR recently announced a rebrand of its Canada Series, introducing a founding partner model that allows NASCAR to build a brand presence and move away from the series being associated with a particular sponsor. The stock car racing series also introduced an expansion in Brazil last year, something that helped to boost the Cup Series’ ratings in the country. Other regional series exist in Mexico and Europe, but further expansion could be on the way as NASCAR looks to grow globally. Once a solid contingent of national series have been established, the idea is to create an intercontinental tournament where the best drivers from each series compete against each other.
Private equity firm Velocity Capital Management has acquired North American grassroots motorsport operator Parella Motorsports Holdings (PMH). Company founder Tony Parella will continue as CEO.
PMH, which was founded by Parella in 2012, owns five major road racing series and hosts racing festivals across the United States under the SpeedTour brand name. Between SVRA, Trans Am, FR Americas, F4 U.S. and the Prototype Sprint Series Association, it had more than 5,500 competitors during the 2023 season. Additionally, PMH also holds the long-term commercial rights to SCCA Pro Racing, which sanctions Trans Am, FR Americas, F4 U.S., Formula Race Promotions and Formula 2000.
High Limit Racing officials have announced a 60-race schedule for next season that will take the winged sprint car series to 36 tracks in 19 states with plans to award more than $4 million in prize money. The slate is highlighted by marquee events, including the $100,000-to-win Joker’s Jackpot at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, the $100,070-to-win Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., the $100,000-to-win Skagit Nationals at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash., and the $57,000-to-win Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway.
Autosport has published a comprehensive timeline of the McLaren v Palou legal dispute. It will be interesting to see if Palou’s decision to sever his contract with McLaren in this way prevents him from ever racing in F1 at all.
Quick Takes in the Business of Motorsport This Week
- Radical Motorsport expands into new territory with appointment of Radical Norway at Rudskogen Motorsenter (Radical Motorsport)
- Flatrock Motorsports Park Partners with Radical (Radical Motorsport)
- Stronger Than Ever; Aero Tec Laboratories (ATL) Aligns to Become Unified Global Powerhouse (ATL)
- Masters Historic Racing begins a new chapter with GP Extreme (MSR)
- MAVTV relaunches with new platforms, expanded distribution (Racer)
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- Why Formula 1 Is The First Sports Partnership For Amex In A Decade (Forbes)
- How Hilton Grand Vacations Is Introducing Fans To Motorsports (Forbes)
- Gulf Oil claims Autosport’s new Brand Partnership of the Year award (Autosport)
- Why Alfa Romeo failed to agree F1 sponsorship deal with Haas (Motorsport Week)
- A Global Perspective on the Evolving Sponsorship Industry (SMA)
- Sports sponsorship supports brand growth, finds research (Research Live)
- Unpacking the ROI of The Sphere vs. Sports Sponsorship (Infront)
- Seven confirmed as new SpeedSeries broadcaster (SpeedCafe)
- RAVENOL becomes technical partner of the X-raid team – X-raid Team (X-Raid)
- McLaren Racing expands NEOM partnership into sim racing (EsportsInsider)
- Alfa Romeo focused on WEC switch after ruling out staying in F1 (Autosport)
- Diagonal Comms to partner the British Touring Car Championship from 2024 (Diagonal Comms)
- CARS Tours Announces zMAX as Title Sponsor (PRI)
- McLAREN Racing welcomes FIA Girls on Track UK to its flagship DE&I programme (McLaren Racing)
- Sold-Out Cup Series Race At Iowa Snags Title Sponsor (SpeedSport)
- AdventHealth joins Legacy Motor Club as primary sponsor for Jones (Racer)
- TNT Sports becomes home of live Formula E coverage in UK and Ireland (Formula E)
- Aston Martin F1 Signs Global Deal (Sports Industry Biz)
- Women and Formula 1: why are they falling back in love with it? (RTR Sports Marketing)
Team & Manufacturer News
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- Third RFK Racing entry lays groundwork for potential expansion – Keselowski (Racer)
- Sellers: DXDT Will Grow to “New Heights” With Corvette (Sportscar365)
- Duchardt named president of Spire Motorsports (Racer)
- Slipstream Performance to Run Mazda Motorsports’ Club Racing Factory Team (Spec MX-5 Cup)
- BHA’s Track Support Program Partners with Orea Ross Racing to Compete in Mexico (BHA)
- Volante Rosso commits to new Formula 4 series (SpeedCafe)
- P1 Groupe moves to GT4 America, Partners with RENNtech for 2024! (P1 Groupe)
- SVG NASCAR team now linked to Moto3 (SpeedCafe)
- Through Prototype Era Evolution, Action Express Success Remains Constant (IMSA)
- Change Is in the Air for Former LMP3 Teams (IMSA)
- No. 92 Kellymoss With Riley Porsche Moves to GTD Class (Sportscar365)
- Big Moves for Rotek Racing for 2024 SRO Championship (GT4 America)
- Graham Rahal joins Radical Cup North America (Racer)
- ABT CUPRA departing Extreme E (The Checkered Flag)
- Dreyer & Reinbold planning for two-car Indy 500 entry (Racer)
- Trackhouse Racing joins 2024 MotoGP grid as RNF replacement (Autosport)
- Glickenhaus: ‘We could be last privateer on Le Mans podium’ (Motorsport Magazine)
- How ORECA is becoming an engine powerhouse (Autosport)
Motorsport Movers & Shakers
James Vowles has just concluded his first Formula 1 season in charge of a team: namely the legendary Williams outfit, no less and he explains to Motorsport Week what it is like leading the iconic team.
“The one that I was really public about, and I’m going to remain that way, is the team does an incredible job given the infrastructure and the lack of systems it has in place,” he noted. “If I’ve ever seen an industry or a company built on passion, it’s this one. Very agile, but unstructured as well and you need both.”
Franz Tost reflects on his 23 year F1 career with Formula Rapida as he talks about drivers he has worked with, as some of them cherish their times with him. “I just want to see a good lap time and the rest I’m not interested in. And I must say it worked out well.”