We’re already on an off-race weekend, but tomorrow is race week two for all who celebrate.
Last weekend in Bahrain, McLaren ran changing digital displays courtesy of a company called Seamless Digital.
Seamless Digital has confirmed to me that they are working are four other teams to use the technology this season. Seeing as though most teams are underweight and running ballast (additional weight added to the car to help them make minimum weight), the screens are commercial sponsorship gold.
Speaking of sponsorships, I’ve been considering American sponsorship of F1 lately and how the growth of the series on this side of the pond would affect where the money flows from.
I asked Björn Stenbacka over at Spomotion Analytics to put some numbers to the action we’re seeing. Enjoy his thoughts and observations in today’s letter.
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United States dominates F1 sponsorship
The number of U.S. companies in Formula 1 has more than doubled in just five years. When Liberty Media completed the acquisition of Formula 1 2017, there were 40 U.S. partners. Last year the number of U.S. official team and series partners reached a historic level of 105 — 30 percent of the total number of partners in Formula 1.
With three races and sold-out venues, the strong U.S. F1 boom continues in 2023 — and with that, the U.S. partners keep coming. U.S. domination of the sponsorship roster is more substantial in 2023 than in 2022.
As the number of European partners has also dropped, the U.S. domination is more substantial in 2023 compared to 2022.
When we look at the teams, there’s quite a difference in the total number of partners. Haas F1, the all-American team, have 14 partners in total, and nine of them are American, so 65 percent of the partnership network is based on U.S. companies.
Alfa Romeo Racing has, according to Spomotion Analytics, the highest number of partners, 46 in total, with 8 percent being from the United States. Switzerland is the number one country on the Alfa Romeo partnership network, where 10 of its partners are from.
Alfa Romeo has seen the most significant changes in its partnership network. Polish oil and gas giant PKN Orlen left and moved to Scuderia AlphaTauri. U.S. investment firm ZCG moved to Scuderia Ferrari. Alfa Romeo has realized a net loss in partnerships for the time being in 2023.
Typical for the top teams is that the partner network is stable, with only slight movements of new and lost partners yearly.
McLaren Racing topped the partnership network last year with 50 partners in total and 26 U.S. This year, 53 percent of the McLaren partnership roster is from the U.S., which puts them at the top of the list for United States partnerships.
World Champion Red Bull has 15 U.S. partners.
Scuderia Ferrari, eight. Italian partners dominate the Ferrari partnership network, 13 of which are from Italy.
Unsurprisingly, the total number of partners in Formula 1 has dropped compared to 2022. This is a healthy development, as it is demanding to keep 50 partners happy, even though McLaren has a new innovative, dynamic digital solution to display partners on the car.
Many teams, especially the top teams, are happy with the current partnership situation. Thanks to the F1 boom, they have maximized the partnership revenue.
This story appeared on my Twitter earlier this week and garnered much attention.
In 2004, Michael Schumacher’s Schuberth RF 1.5 helmet was a prototype made of multi-layered carbon fiber.
In a brilliant bit of marketing, they rolled a tank over the helmet, and it stayed intact to prove how strong the helmet was.
The helmet cost €15,000 (~$20,000 at the time)
The double carbon feature was incorporated in later helmets and played a key role in minimizing the consequences of an accident suffered by Felipe Massa at the 2009 Hungarian GP, where he was struck by a steel spring.
Massa keeps the helmet on display at his home to this day.
Strange sponsors in motorsport
What do Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and Durex have in common with Abba and T-Swift?
They’ve all sponsored race cars.
Even Penthouse was an F1 sponsor in 1977, sponsoring the Hesketh 308E. Sponsored by adult magazine Penthouse and rolling paper maker Rizla, the car featured a scantily clad woman holding a Rizla package. A brilliant way to marry two sponsors together.
See the whole list of strange motorsport sponsors over at our friends Hagerty.
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