SPA Commits to Sports Cars and More Business of Motorsport

Spa has committed to sports cars and the WEC for a further 5 years as they face an uncertain Formula 1 future in the Business of Motorsport this week.

I also bring you details of how Formula 1 has grown their popularity in the United States, why MotoGP thinks Suzuki will be back, the future of the DTM, and the political machinations of the Silk Road Rally.

All of this plus the latest sponsorship deals and partnerships, what attracted Jan Magnussen’s first team boss back to single-seaters, and Victoria’s Secret debuts in NASCAR.

And don’t forget that Motorsport Prospects has teamed up with Racing Edge to be part of their “Weekly Motoring Goodness” newsletter. If you haven’t subscribed yet, consider signing up for some great News Racers Can Use! You can sign up here!

The Business of Motorsport on Motorsport Prospects. A concise weekly roundup of business news racers can use.

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

F1 Management

A rumor started this week that Liberty Media was planning on buying IndyCar and turn it into a feeder series to F1, a suggestion that was quickly shot down by all sides. Liberty also denied they were selling F1 or that the American races were cannibalizing each other.

The growing popularity of F1 in the United States is quite impressive considering the fact that less than 10 years ago they were considering abandoning the market. Here is how they did it. You can get details on the inaugural F1 Accelerate Summit here.

The interesting part that Liberty itself is promoting the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix is not so much how current promoters are threatened by the model, but by how they feel that Liberty will now begin to understand how much work goes into promoting an F1 race. It has become a massive eye-opener to what they have to go through year after year.

F1 has not had a presence in Germany for a while but Hockenheim has let it be known that they are open to an F1 return at the right price.

The FIA’s invitation for applications from potential new Formula 1 teams, which opened for entries back in February, comes to an end on April 30th.

Michelin is not interested in returning to F1 as long as the series continues to factor tire degradation into the rules of the series, something that is anathema to the tire manufacturer. The bottom line is that it does not want to manufacture tires that destroy themselves. But the FIA’s stance seems to be changing somewhat, although not enough for Michelin.

Stefano Domenicali has hailed the cost cap for forcing Formula 1 teams to adopt “different cultural minds” about how they go racing. “But I think what has been done is one of the pillars enabling the system to be so strong is that it puts the teams in a different cultural frame, because now they need to think differently, how to manage the development of the year.”

Finally, ex-Haas driver Nikita Mazepin is plotting a return to Formula 1 in 2024 by taking a case with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister to court to remove the sanctions placed against him.

General Motorsport Industry News

Business of Motorsport

FIM president Jorge Viegas believes Suzuki will return to MotoGP at some point following the Japanese manufacturer’s exit from the series at the end of 2022. “I think they will be back. They cannot sell bikes if they are not in competition.”

During the FIA WEC meeting at Portimao earlier this month the championship’s CEO Frédéric Lequien held a media round table discussion during the race and gave updates on a variety of topics. This included the championship’s improved media attention, the future of LMP2, the philosophy behind the forthcoming LMGT3 class and the calendar.

“We are not Formula One, we try to get more and more exposure, we are not too bad in terms of communications, we are doing better and better in terms of promotions. Sales for Spa tickets are up 200 per cent on last year.”

The promoters of SUPER GT and DTM have held a preliminary meeting to discuss a successor to their jointly-created Class 1 regulations. The idea is to come up with a set of regulations that will be attractive to championships across the globe, including IMSA in North America and possibly Australia, thus making each series more viable to manufacturers.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem is facing allegations of bullying and sexism following a report by a news outlet and the FIA have reacted. “In Nov 2022 it was decided by both parties that she would leave that position. Mutual privacy terms have been agreed as is commonplace in business. Neither party has made a reference to the FIA Ethics Committee.”

The Checkered Flag has highlighted an investigation that uncovers ties between the Silk Way Rally, the Russian military, and diplomatic activities.

“The investigation described the Silk Way Rally as actually a cover for Yanborisov, used to foster positive relations between Russia and neighbouring countries in the name of motorsport. While it is to be expected for countries co-hosting an international rally to be friendly with one another, a 9 December 2021 document titled “The Silk Way Communication Platform” stressed more geopolitical goals such as “influencing” Saudi Arabia and Turkey, assisting in construction of the China-Russia Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline, and even helping the Taliban develop legitimacy in global affairs provided they recognise Crimea as Russian land as the previous Afghan government did in 2014. Another “top secret” document from Yanborisov to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed more jingoistic ambitions like growing the Russian military’s presence in Asia and selling Russian military equipment to countries interested in supporting the SWR.”

There was a lot of track-related news this week and here are some of the highlights.

WEC at Spa 2023
  • Le Mans Endurance Management [LMEM] has signed a contract extension with Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, which will see the iconic Belgian circuit remain as a round of the FIA World Endurance Championship + European Le Mans Series for a further five years.
  • The Nashville Grand Prix is planning to continue beyond 2023 with a new layout due to construction of the newly approved Tennessee Titans football stadium.
  • MotoGP has announced that the inaugural Kazakhstan Grand Prix has been called off due to “ongoing homologation works at the circuit, paired with current global operational challenges”.
  • Bandimere Speedway, a longtime stop on the NHRA circuit tucked into the foothills of Colorado’s Front Range west of Denver, plans to close after the 2023 season.
  • At the dinner preceding the Smith Heritage Invitational, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Greg Walter revealed plans for a new road course in the works for the facility. The road course will consist of one long circuit and two shorter ones, with details on actual sizes and configurations still being ironed out.
  • Following the death of former IndyCar team owner Kevin Kalkhoven in 2022, Kalkhoven’s 50-percent stake in the world-famous Long Beach Grand Prix event, which the Australian purchased with fellow former IndyCar team owner Gerry Forsythe, is being shopped to potential buyers.

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

F1 Start

The commercial team behind F1 wants to expand the business’s income by regionalising trackside sponsorship presentation.

“We see a big opportunity in, I call it, the region,” began Brandon Snow, Formula 1’s commercial managing director. “So North American region view, from my perspective, I look at not only the three races we have in the US, you have Canada, you have Mexico, even Brazil. From a timezone perspective, that works very well for regionalisation opportunities. We’re really exploring that area of how can we find big, large scale brand partners that might just want to focus on certain regions before they go to a global position.”

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

Business of Motorsport

The Business of Running a Race Team

GT4 America

The Pirelli GT4 America website profiles New Orleans-based race team Nolasport.

“A big part of Nolasport’s success is the people. Our car chief James, for example, is the heart and soul of the team,” Travis said. “He works so incredibly hard on these cars, and that sets the tone for the whole organization. I like winning, but most of my motivation is just from trying not to let James down.”

Formula Scout looks at what attracted Jan Magnussen’s first team (boss) back to single-seaters in 2021 with his Team FormulaSport.

“Everything has just become more and more professional [at these lower levels]. Sometimes you miss a little bit the old days where there was no video, you just used the brain yourself and tried to get the best out it. And then speak with the driver about the corners and the gear ratios and all this, in the old-fashioned way, that was also nice. Now we have data-logging, we have video and everything, and sometimes despite having all this, the driver can’t change anything. Sometimes.”

Team & Manufacturer News

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

Garage 56 2023
Photo: Hendrick Motorsports

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.