Is the Miami Grand Prix good for F1 or just another FOMO event? Opinion seems to be divided on this divisive race after only 2 years.
In other business of motorsport news, I look at who can legally use the phrase “the greatest spectacle in racing,” a race team whose assets are for sale, the return of a classic marque to Le Mans, the decisions facing the World Rally Championship and the new Lexus GT3 car.
All this and much more in the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news racers can use.
Motorsport Industry News
The Miami Grand Prix appears to be a lightning road for criticism as it wraps up its second year on the F1 calendar. From overpriced food and tickets to questionable track surfaces and cringe-worthy driver introductions, whatever good the race imbues seems to be overwhelmed by this negativity. There are also questions being raised as to whether this is a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) event that caters to people more interested in being seen than in the on-track action, something I mentioned last week as well.
Certainly brands like Hard Rock are getting something out of the race and plenty of other corporate partners as well, but what about the fans and the sport itself? It will take a few years to play out but it will be interesting to see if the race survives both the emergence of Vegas as a signature event and the potential waning interest of American fans.
Here are a few articles that look at how their race weekend went, some analysis of potential trouble ahead and what to look forward to in 2024. I find the two different approaches to reporting on viewership numbers for the race particularly fascinating.
- How well did Miami weather the second year F1 blues?
- Can the Miami GP ever become the event it aspires to be?
- 2023 Miami Grand Prix Is Second-Most Watched F1 Race in U.S. History
- F1’s Miami GP sees US audience drop 24% on ABC
- Miami F1 Organizers in ‘Discussions’ Over Potential Switch to Night Race
- After Miami, What’s the Next Chapter for the American F1 Boom?
- Miami GP Invests in ‘Disneyland for Racing’
- The major F1 conflict highlighted by Brundle-Stewart incident
- Is this the most stylish Miami hospitality space in F1?
- In a fickle sporting world F1 understands it’s “Entertain to Survive”
- Formula 1’s Race Strategy in America Isn’t Convincing Fans to Stick Around
One interesting issue that emerged from the Miami Grand Prix weekend and which I posted about on LinkedIn was the use of the term “the greatest racing spectacle on the planet” by rapper LL Cool J as he introduced the drivers. Is this just a little too close for comfort to the IndyCar trademarked tagline “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that references the Indy 500?
“And I don’t expect [the potential trademark infringements] to continue. We had a little conversation with them when it was popping up around Vegas, and it was very informal and quick, so I was surprised by [Sunday]. But I don’t think that’s their general MO.”
Or put more succinctly, F1 being called the ‘greatest motorsport spectacle’ a ‘crock of s***’
Meanwhile across the pond, British songwriter and producer Jamie Scott, who is curating the music for this year’s British Grand Prix explains what he has in store for fans this year. “I fell in love with the idea of using the two worlds that I am so passionate about and trying to fuse them – and that is motorsport and music.”
One of the biggest issues with making Formula 1 more sustainable is the logistics of the sport. Flying the cars, equipment and personnel around the world is carbon intensive and F1 have stated that they understand the issue and are working on regionalizing the calendar to make it all more sustainable. Motorsport Magazine looks at how to streamline the current F1 calendar to make it a more efficient schedule while also cutting travel miles.
“F1 has acknowledged that there are efficiencies to be made in the calendar, but 2023 still sees plenty of long-haul flights from race to race — so we’ve had a go at drawing up a schedule that reduces travel by a third — 27,000 miles.”
With responses like that of the Miami promoter who insists that their date is pretty firm, both articles point out the complexity and challenge of regionalizing the calendar. But it can and needs to be done.
Will F1 Arcade become the next TopGolf? I am sure that is what Liberty Media are hoping as they announce that they will be opening an F1 Arcade facility in Boston in 2024 with plans to open a further 20 locations in the United States within the next 5 years.
“The gameplay experience, created by Motorsport Games via its RFactor2 racing simulation platform, allows guests to choose from a variety of racing modes to compete against each other individually, in teams, or as part of all-venue racing formats. Different modes are available for all ages and abilities, making the experience competitive and exhilarating for all who race.”
Speculation is increasing that Honda will be supplying engines to Aston Martin in 2026. “Multiple sources have indicated to The Race that Honda will commit to the new regulations after all, with Aston Martin – currently a Mercedes engine customer – tipped to be its partner.”
A few updates on the new F1 teams front this week.
Last week I talked about the new F1 team aspirant LKY SUNZ and their hopes to be on the grid in 2025. The team’s chief commercial officer Andrew Pyrah tells the South China Morning Post that there is “no point chasing a place on the grid unless you fully commit to it.”
Meanwhile, Michael Andretti expects a mid-July decision on his planned new F1 team while the current F1 team bosses are cool to anybody spoiling their party.
- F1 team bosses cool on new entrants – “Like turkeys voting for Christmas!”
- Formula 1 Teams Fear Adding to Their Ranks Could “Dilute” Income
In F1 business news, Formula 1 continues to drive revenue growth for Liberty Media as the Formula One Group brought in $381M in total revenue for Q1 2023 — a 6% year-over-year increase from 2022 ($360M).
And while revenue is growing, Liberty also want to lock down a Concorde deal soon.
“We have several years left to run on the Concorde Agreement,” said Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei in a call with Wall Street analysts. “But I think there’s a consensus among the teams and the FIA and ourselves that now might be a good time to try and strike while the iron is hot and renew and extend the Concorde Agreement. There’s certainly no obligation to do that. And there’s certainly no risk if that doesn’t get done.”
Liberty also has their eyes on China once again. As it looks like the Chinese Grand Prix will be back for 2024, F1 is looking to unlock new riches with China’s rising star Zhou Guanyu.
“When you get a Chinese person competing at the top level, it’s probably the quickest way to develop relevance and accelerate the fan base,” said Mark Thomas, managing director at a China-focused sport marketing consultancy S2M Consulting, who has been involved with motorsport in the country for two decades. “He’s a sponsor’s dream.”
Huddle Up looks at how Formula 1 became the world’s fastest growing sport.
“Formula 1 is now the world’s fastest-growing sports league on social media. The average age of an F1 fan has dropped from 36 years old in 2017 to 32 years old today, which is drastically lower than the MLB (57), NFL (50), NHL (49), and NBA (42). And Liberty Media says that 1 out of every 3 fans didn’t even watch the sport 4 years ago.”
Racer.com looks at how Red Bull is applying lessons of American marketing focus to lead F1 into a new era. “I think (it’s absolutely) helping the sport as a whole,” Red Bull Racing’s director of brand Kelly Brittain told RACER of how F1 is evolving in the United States. “The more entertaining it can be, the more fan-focused it can be, that’s only ever going to benefit all of us.”
In a recent Autosport Plus article, Pat Symonds explains how machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, is already adding insight and enjoyment to F1. “Overall, machine learning has the potential to revolutionise all sports by providing insights into performance and probable strategic and tactical outcomes. For many this adds a level of understanding which boosts the enjoyment but it should be treated with caution.”
Fresh off the debut of his new Formula 1 anthem, Will.i.am sums up F1 quite nicely.
“In many ways, he says, F1 is a place where all those passions come together. “Think about all the engineers in the pit, all the work that’s gone into making that car not only beautiful but aerodynamic—from strategy and configuration to the weight distribution. Then you have that fearless pilot who’s driving and risking their lives on a track,” he says. “What’s happening in that professional setting is a mirror of what kids are doing in a learning setting with robotics: It’s a perfect example of science, technology, engineering. arts and math.”
General Motorsport Industry News
If you love motorsport history, this will put a smile on your face. The name of the historic Delage marque, winner of the 1914 Indianapolis 500, will return to the Le Mans 24 Hours in a partnership deal with the IDEC Sport team.
Team founder Patrice Lafargue, whose squad has raced at Le Mans in P2 since 2017, said: “IDEC Sport is happy to enter into this partnership with Delage. This name means great things to car fans, and there is a real story in La Sarthe. We are proud that Delage recognises our skills.”
Sportscar365 goes behind the scenes at Honda Performance Development. “Founded in 1993, HPD’s original 43,500-square-foot space in Santa Clarita, Calif. was designed to primarily serve as an engine rebuilding facility. Having outgrown its space, the company moved a few miles away to a dedicated new headquarters in 2005 that was designed from the ground-up to serve as an advanced R&D and manufacturing facility.”
Autosport‘s Charlse Bradley also gives some insight into HPD and their role in American motorsport. “We respond to the marketing side of the brand, and our goal is to promote Honda and Acura, and to develop people and technology,” he says. “We’re all crazy motorsport people, we communicate well together, and Honda is a very respectful company. Racing can be quite an aggressive environment, but there’s a real respect for the individual inside Honda.”
Geoff Taunton will reveal a brand-new Australian-made Marc GT car at Phillip Island this weekend when he lines up for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS. “Bult by Marc Cars Australia, the car is cost-effective and driver-friendly that caters to both experienced and grass-roots competitors, having been an upgrade from the Marc Focus and Mazda launched in the last decade.”
The production version of the car revealed at the Tokyo Auto Salon as the Toyota GR GT3 Concept early last year (see above), is set to be raced exclusively under the Lexus brand worldwide, Daily Sportscar has established.
“The new car, which is now in the initial track testing phase of its development in Japan, still hasn’t had its model name confirmed. It is set to be the replacement for the current (2017 vintage) Lexus RC F GT3 (below), including as the brand’s representative in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (potentially in GTD Pro and GTD) in the future.”
Nihon Michelin Tyre, the Japanese division of the French rubber giant, has announced that it will no longer supply tires for the Autobacs SUPER GT Series’ premier GT500 class after the 2023 season. Motorsport.com looks at what this shock exit means for Nissan and SUPER GT.
The World Rally Championship is at a crossroads. While they have signed a sustainable fuels agreement with FuelsEurope, they still do not have a long range blueprint for their propulsion technology. With the new Rally1 hybrid rules not bringing in the hoped for new manufacturers, there is talk that hybrid could be ditched in 2025. What are the options for the top tier rally championship? Dirtfish looks at the three propulsion options facing the WRC and the likelihood of which one will be adopted.
E-sports and electric racing group Veloce reckons its new blockchain-based VEXT platform will enable it to expand its message of sustainable racing and inclusivity. James Morris of Forbes talked to Rupert Svendsen-Cook, Veloce’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, about what VEXT is and how it could help take the group’s environmental mission to the next level.
“The world of crypto is full of grand statements like this, however, so I asked Svendsen-Cook what that would actually mean for VEXT participants. “Token holders will have influence, governance and control over what we as a sporting group do and how we do it,” he says. “That could be which drivers compete for us, which series we compete in, where we compete, which type of content we create, and what our YouTube influencers will produce. The utility is almost endless, but the key is integrating token holders into what we’re already doing.””
Electric racer and Motorsport Prospects contributor Ellis Spiezia also explains how a sustainable blockchain functions in his two columns for News Racers Can Use:
Bosch Engineering and Ligier Automotive have established a strategic development partnership for high-performance vehicles with a hydrogen engine.
“The goal of the project is to build a high-performance vehicle with a hydrogen engine that delivers drive dynamics equivalent to those of conventional gasoline-powered sports cars and thereby demonstrate the potential that lies in specific vehicle developments in the areas of engine management and hydrogen storage. Furthermore, the project is a testimony to the shared expertise of Bosch Engineering and Ligier Automotive in transferring the complex hydrogen technology into vehicles. The Ligier JS2 RH2 will be officially unveiled as part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary in June 2023.”
Autosport looks at this project and some other hydrogen-related motorsport plans as well.
Motorsport athlete endorsements have increased 40 per cent year-over-year (YoY), according to a report carried out by SponsorUnited. The report looks at over 4,200 brands, 200 athletes and 3,000 social posts in motorsport, including Nascar, IndyCar, Formula One, Formula E and MotoGP. Some interesting stats:
- Motorsport athletes receive twice as many endorsement deals compared to major US sports
- 87% of F1 sponsors are non-endemic brands; IndyCar has 25% more endemic sponsors than F1
- F1 viewership increases 28% on ESPN, social media engagement increase 80% and major brand partnerships increase 24%
To read the report for yourself, click here.
Ticket sales are up for IndyCar’s Iowa and Detroit races in the wake of this year’s Long Beach success. In more good news for American motorsport, advance ticket sales concluded Wednesday for this weekend’s IMSA’s race at Laguna Seca securing the largest year-over-year increase in history for the series at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Lisheng Sports will act as the promoter of both TCR China and TCR Asia in a multi-year partnership agreed with WSC Group, the company behind the TCR format. The deal, running through to 2028, means Lisheng Sports will continue to be the sole and exclusive operator and promoter of TCR in the Asian market, with the exception of Japan and the Middle East region.
V8 Sleuth looks at the connections integral to Supercars’ F1 push as the series attempts to get itself on the support grid of various F1 race weekends.
In order to increase the popularity and interest in the F1 Academy series, F1 is producing a ‘Drive to Survive’ type docuseries, which will follow the lives of these women in the world of racing.
“One of the executive producers of the show will be Reese Witherspoon, who is worth $400 million. The Hollywood actress founded a media company named ‘Hello Sunshine’ which focuses immensely on women’s empowerment. The name of the show and its streaming platform hasn’t been decided yet but as per reports, the format of the show will be very similar to Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’.”
Global sport marketing agency Right Formula has expanded its global reach with the launch of Right Formula Caribbean, a brand and experiential focused team based in Barbados. The strategic partnership with Barbados-based brand consultancy Dakota Ross will result in their major shareholders Kodi Lewis, Luis Fuentes, and Alex Weetch heading up Right Formula Caribbean.
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- Nascar names Olliv as partner of Chicago Street Race
- WRC signs two-year partnership with FuelsEurope
- Supercars inks Liqui Moly partnership
- Pirelli confirmed as FIM Superbike World Championship exclusive supplier until 2026
- Andretti Autosport Announces Partnership with Blackpoint Cyber for the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season
- 2023 Title Sponsorship for the Emzone Radical Cup Canada
- ShipSigma Partners with IndyCar Driver Enaam Ahmed in the 2023 Indy NXT Series
- Hendrick Motorsports and Hexagon partner to enhance team performance
- Local fashion company partners with Indy 500 for exclusive line
- Aston Martin F1 adds Banco Master deal
- Red Bull F1 team sign up Bacardi for global partnership
- Goodwood FoS signs multi-year Pirelli partnership
- Toyota Racing Development announces official relationship with Segra
- Extreme E to stream 2023 season on Recast
- Sky Deutschland to stream two F1 races free on YouTube
The Business of Running a Race Team
Jr III Racing owner Billy Glavin is preparing for a future without LMP3 in IMSA’s top tier WeatherTech Series. “Glavin’s participation in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has been centered on LMP3 – he also runs LMP3 cars in IMSA’s VP Racing SportsCar Challenge. He has enjoyed running the car for customers in the WeatherTech Championship not only because it’s the cheapest avenue to entry into the series, but because it’s a great platform.”
Racer.com explains how BMW M Team RLL is squashing the GTP learning curve.
“It doesn’t only help setting up the car better in terms of mechanical – because it’s software and hardware, integration is so tricky to get exactly right. Being able to run that on a car in the simulator is massive. And then we can also get guys back at base while we’re here. You know, they can work their asses off while we’re working our off here, so you can improve over a race weekend, more like a Formula 1 team. This is the kind of operation we’re having to run now. It’s cool that it’s starting to pay off.”
PMW Magazine reports that additive manufacturing material from HRL Laboratories now approved for Formula 1 use. “Our printable aluminum powder has been added to the list of acceptable materials for any component on a Formula 1 car,” commented Darby LaPlant, materials scientist, HRL. “This step is further validation of our 3D-printed high-strength alloy. We’re excited to be working with Formula 1 to bring 7A77 to an incredibly demanding application.”
The assets of VR Motorsport are now available for sale.
“For sale, most physical items, but retaining the VR Motorsport name and IP. I do not plan to sell items separately only as part of a negotiated package For more details please email me with your interest, please do not call as I will not be available to answer. firstname.lastname@example.org”
Aston Martin Racing is hoping to secure places on next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship LMGT3 grid despite the idea to give Hypercar manufacturers priority.
“I think it’s an understandable approach that the ACO are taking,” Aston Martin Racing’s head of partner racing Huw Tasker told Sportscar365. “We’ve been in WEC from the start and enjoyed the racing here, being here in Pro and with customer cars. We would hope, like the ACO indicated, that loyalty to the championship is also an important factor, even if Hypercar entries get the first priority.
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- Hyundai N Team announces three-car TCR China entry
- Teamwork confirms four-car line-up for 2023
- Iron Lynx to Field Six-Car Entry for Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe Return
- Thaze Competition AMG Confirmed For Debut At Detroit Street Race
- LA Honda World Racing Set To Debut New FL5 Civic TCR AT Laguna Seca
- GMB Motorsport Evaluating WEC LMGT3 Programme With Honda
- Alpine plans F1 recruitment drive, investment and new simulator
- Porsche Launches “Racing for Charity” Project for Le Mans
- Valkyrie Velocity Confirms Two-Car Effort for Laguna