As we head towards the F1 launch season 2011, I’ll be along in the next week or so with my usual roundup of speculated liveries for the teams this year. In the meantime, however, here’s another guest article from Mark Martin, along similar lines, in which he speculates about the sort of companies that may look to become F1 sponsors in upcoming years…
By looking at either the Hispania or Sauber cars in 2010 it was painfully obvious the effect that the global recession had on F1. Companies simply no longer had sufficient funds to support a multi-million dollar project which would buy them a small space on a car competing in a sport which was generally seen as being bad for the environment. However, the sport is currently in the middle of a revolution with the teams having agreed to a resource restriction agreement which means that they are gently reducing their expenditures. The FIA has also announced plans for a new set of technical regulations for 2013 which will improve the sports environmental credentials and help teams reduce costs further.
The effect of this is that more companies are becoming open to the prospect of entering F1. This is due to companies becoming increasingly concerned with being seen to be endorsing anything remotely environmentally friendly and the possibility to buy advertising space on cars for a much reduced price. The following is a list of companies believed to be interested in becoming F1 sponsors in the next few years.
Japanese electronics company Panasonic was last involved in F1 with the Toyota F1 team. The company had signed a deal to renew the partnership past the 2009 season, but these plans were thwarted by Toyota’s withdrawal. It is therefore clear that they still have an ambition to be involved in the sport, and it is believed that Panasonic is looking into sponsoring the Sauber team. Sauber currently runs the highly rated Japanese racer Kamui Kobayashi and is believed to be in negotiations with Honda over a possible buy-in in time for the 2013 season. Sauber are rumoured to be running a blue-and-white livery from 2011 due to new sponsor Telmex, and Panasonic would fit in well with this.
Moneysupermarket recently funded a highly successful car insurance television advertisement campaign with 1992 F1 world champion Nigel Mansell. The price comparison company has also announced a deal to sponsor one of the most popular programmes on British television in 2011, Britain’s Got Talent, proving that the firm are now more willing to plough financial resources into marketing campaigns than they used to be in the past. Putting money into an F1 project to support their car insurance operation, which is a big part of their business, would make sense. If this does happen, expect this to be with a British team such as Virgin Racing.
The Spanish telecommunications giant was previously involved as a title sponsor of the Minardi team in 2000 when it ran Spanish driver Marc Gene, which resulted in a beautiful yellow livery for the Italian minnows. Telefonica returned to the sport as a sponsor for the Renault team when it ran Fernando Alonso. It is therefore clear that the company prefer to be involved in teams with Spanish interests. At the end of 2010, Hispania Racing announced a new partnership with former Telefonica CEO Juan Villalonga. It is believed that this was an attempt by the team to secure its future by giving it a better chance of persuading Telefonica to provide financial backing to the team in 2011. This would make it possible for the team to be able to afford to run Pedro de la Rosa, who would be better equipped to give technical guidance to the team than the rookie drivers they had in 2010 as well as allowing for the return of that yellow livery.
In 2010 YouTube came very close to entering F1 as a sponsor through the USF1 team which sadly failed to make it to the grid. However, it is believed that YouTube founder Chad Hurley still has ambitions to become involved in F1, but he only wants to do this with an American operation. It is rumoured that Hurley has assigned his adviser, Paris Mullins, to a project which would see them buy an existing team and turn it into an American operation. It is believed that Toro Rosso is their main target, with Red Bull said to have put the team on the market for just $30 million in their desperation to divert all of their resources into their attempts to keep the highly successful Red Bull Racing team at the front of the field. This would likely result in the recruitment of an American driver such as Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal, Jonathan Summerton or Ryan Hunter-Reay.