Not so long ago, Formula 1 saw that it had to work hard to defend itself against criticism.
The rampant costs were out of control. The screaming V8 engines made them an obvious target for those who felt it was just a waste of resources, and sponsors didn’t seem interested in a series that was suffering from shrinking audiences and popularity. an almost zero presence on social networks.
Fast forward a few years to the present day and things are very different for grand prix racing.
A cost cap means the days of it being a bottomless financial pit are over. The hybrid era has put it at the forefront of a sustainability push, and an audience boom – almost certainly helped by the Netflix effect – has sparked a gold rush of new sponsors.
In fact, F1 seems to be reaping the rewards of thinking from some of its bosses, as a host of factors have brought it back into fashion.
But what’s especially good for the teams is that big companies are keen to spend and partner with F1 because it ensures that the money that turns the wheels keeps flowing in.
What has been particularly noticeable in recent months is a new wave of high-tech sponsors eager for a slice of the F1 pie. They not only want to reap the advertising rewards of using F1 to build brand awareness, but they also bring with them valuable products that teams can use.
There was Cognizant winning the title of sponsor at Aston Martin, Oracle becoming a major player at Red Bull and TeamViewer becoming the third largest sponsor of Mercedes.
TeamViewer augmented reality
Photo by: TeamViewer
Three big tech companies all joining F1 in the span of a few months is certainly no coincidence, and there appear to be key factors at play here.
First, F1’s hybrid rules are now fully in line with real-world requirements – because they have put it at the forefront of technology and sustainability.
As mainstream brands seek to be on the forefront of these two elements, and F1 offers millions of eyeballs every other weekend, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff feels an inevitable magnetism that brought the giants high tech in the world of F1.
“I think F1 represents above all its historical values and it is still very high-tech, and he is the best man in the victories of the best machine,” he said.
“But he kind of went from the sport of gladiators to fighter jets, with the technology that found its way into F1. Add to that also the story of sustainability which we can be very proud of thanks to the innovations we bring to the markets of other industries.
“Speed of delivery has also become attractive to technology sponsors, and on the other hand, there is the real case that the technology of high-tech companies can accelerate our own performance. So it went from the sticker on the car to a really credible joint mission. “
All recent hi-tech sponsor announcements have involved team elements using new technology and ideas. Aston Martin will use Cognizant to develop its IT infrastructure, Mercedes is exploring opportunities for augmented reality with TeamViewer, while Red Bull is considering more elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning with Oracle.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
With data so important in F1, technology has become an obvious battleground where the team with the best way to handle it can have an advantage.
As Red Bull Team Leader Christian Horner said: “Data and the way we operate is our lifeblood. You know we generate so much of it and has an impact on everything we do: the way we run a race, the way we develop a car, the way we even analyze drivers and driver selection.
“F1 has evolved and the days of tobacco companies are gone, and there are even fewer OEMs involved now. F1 is very, very state of the art, it’s cutting edge technology, and it’s great to see these technical partnerships come into the sport – and one of the bigger fish to come into the pond. must be Oracle.
The way F1 spans such a broad technological spectrum is something that stands out for remote access software giant TeamViewer, which announced its merger with Mercedes shortly after confirming it would be the new shirt sponsor of Manchester United football club.
CEO Oliver Steil is clear that F1 is not just a one-ride pony that offers one dimension to use its products.
“I think the real appeal of F1 as a sport lies in the multitude of use cases,” he said. “And I think that’s what attracts tech companies, I would say, because it’s manufacturing, its design, its logistics, its monitoring, its analyzes. So the breadth of use cases and possible applications in Formula 1 is very, very remarkable. “
Yet despite the link between high-tech F1 “fighter jet” and tech companies, no association would be possible without the fact that F1 is enjoying increasing popularity.
The record numbers that many channels have taken advantage of for the season opener in Bahrain show that there is great interest right now, and the importance of profiling that Netflix’s Drive to Survive series has brought cannot be ignored.
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Oracle Marketing Director Ariel Kelman sees a direct line between the impact of Netflix and the recent sign-up of major US sponsors.
“I have personally seen a massive increase in enthusiasm around Formula 1 in the United States, so it’s only natural that American tech companies are looking to get involved in a much deeper way,” he said. .
“Being good with data, analytics and machine learning is really a core skill of every Formula 1 team now. So you get this combination of a great platform to promote very sophisticated technology use cases, to what has once been a massive fan base around the world that is now becoming a very fast growing sport in the world. United States for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the Netflix phenomenon.
“So I think you’re going to see more and more tech companies start to see this as a really important part of their strategy.”
It is also important to note that F1 is attracting the interest of sponsors as it is a world championship with massive reach.
Beyond big companies like Cognizant, Oracle, and TeamViewer, there has been a wave of lesser-known brands that have taken the leap to get involved recently – from cybersecurity companies like Herjavec to crypto exchanges like Bitci.com.
For McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who has spent much of his career signing sponsorship deals, F1’s ability to make itself known to fans remains one of its main strengths.
“One of the trends that we are seeing in F1 is the emergence of new technologies, new countries and new companies to use it as a great platform to, as they say, quickly become famous,” he explains. -he.
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images
“Some of the more recognizable brands don’t need brand awareness. They want the content that the sport creates and that the pilots create.
“Then when you look at some of our new partners, like Darktrace, these are companies that are growing rapidly, growing rapidly, and need a global platform to shed light on their business and their capabilities.
“You can do it through traditional media, but it’s quite expensive. So when you look at how F1 delivers every two weeks to a few hundred countries and hundreds and millions of fans, it’s a very effective way to get attention to your business very quickly.
For F1 as a whole, what it currently offers is a winning combination for high-tech industries.
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images