Why are Formula 1 drivers exposed?

Reformed Formula 1: The interest of sponsors is growing all the time

Not so long ago, Formula 1 faced severe criticism. The costs were out of control, the roaring V8s made it the target of those who saw them as nothing more than a CO2-slashing waste of resources, and the sponsors no longer seemed interested in a sport that was falling under the falling audience and lack of presence on social media.

However, if you fast forward a few years to the present day, things look very different for Grand Prix racing. Due to the budget limit, the days of bottomless waste of money are numbered, the hybrid era ensures the necessary sustainability, and a viewer boom - also triggered by Netflix - has attracted new sponsors.

Especially for the teams it is good news that big companies are spending money again and want to identify with the sport. Because this secures the income that sets all wheels in motion.

In the past few months, a wave of high-tech sponsors has been observed. Not only do they want to use Formula 1 to get attention for their brand, they also bring valuable products with them that teams can use.

For example, Cognizant became the title sponsor of Aston Martin, Oracle became a big player at Red Bull and TeamViewer became the third largest sponsor at Mercedes. It is no coincidence that all three came to Formula 1 within a few months. A couple of important factors seem to play a role here.

Fits like chalk and cheese

First and foremost, the hybrid rules of Formula 1 fit perfectly with the requirements of the real world and have put them in a pioneering role in terms of technology and sustainability. And that's exactly where the big companies want to go.

And since Formula 1 attracts millions of people every second weekend, Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff sees an inevitable magnetism that has brought the tech giants into Formula 1.

"First and foremost, Formula 1 stands for its historical values ​​and is still high-tech. The best driver in the best car wins," he says. "But technology somehow moved us from gladiatorial sport to fighter jets. In addition, there is sustainability, which we can be very proud of because we bring innovations into the markets of other industries."

"How quickly we deliver has also become attractive to tech sponsors. And on the other hand, the technology of these companies can also accelerate our own performance. So we moved from mere stickers on the car to a real joint project," said Wolff .

Benefits for teams and sponsors

In all of these recent announcements, the team is leveraging new technology and ideas from their partner. Aston Martin is improving its IT infrastructure with Cognizant, Mercedes is looking at augmented reality possibilities with TeamViewer and Red Bull is examining the topics of artificial intelligence and machine learning with Oracle.

Since data is so important in Formula 1, technology is of course a battlefield where the teams that best handle it can develop an advantage.

"Data and the use of it are our lifeblood," says Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. "We generate so many of them and they affect everything we do: how we drive a race, how we develop the car and even how we analyze drivers and choose them."

"Formula 1 has evolved. Gone are the days of tobacco companies and even manufacturers have become rarer. Formula 1 is at the forefront of technology and it's nice to see all of these technical partnerships. And one of the biggest fish in the world Pond is Oracle, "says Horner.

Why TeamViewer is committed

How Formula 1 is spread across such a wide range of technologies is particularly noticeable for software giant TeamViewer. First he was announced as the shirt sponsor of football club Manchester United, shortly afterwards the deal with Mercedes was confirmed.

Mercedes and Red Bull also have new deals with technology companies

Photo: Motorsport Images

For managing director Oliver Steil, the championship is not only strong in one area and does not only offer his products a single dimension in use: "For me, the real attraction of Formula 1 as a sport is the multitude of possible applications," he says.

"I think that this also attracts technology companies. It's manufacturing, it's design, it's logistics, it's monitoring, it's analysis. The multitude of possibilities in Formula 1 is very, very remarkable," said Steil .

Increasing popularity

Without the increasing popularity, however, a meeting between Formula 1 and the technology companies would not be possible despite all the connection points. The record numbers that many broadcasters had at the start of the season in Bahrain indicate a great deal of interest.

The importance of the Netflix documentary "Drive To Survive" cannot be swept under the carpet. Oracle's Marketing Director Ariel Kelman sees a direct connection between the influence of Netflix and the emergence of major American sponsors.

"I have noticed an enormous increase in enthusiasm for Formula 1 in the USA. Therefore, it is only logical that US technology companies want to be more involved," he says. "Getting along well with data, analysis and machine learning is an important point for every Formula 1 team."

"So it's a great platform to promote highly developed technology. Especially since the already strong fan base in the US is now growing rapidly. So other technology companies will keep an eye on it," said Kelman.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Formula 1 attracts sponsors because it is a global sport with an enormous reach. In addition to the large companies, lesser-known brands are also interested in getting started - from cybersecurity companies like Herjavec to crypto traders like Bitci.com.

Quickly known through Formula 1?

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has spent most of his career signing sponsorship deals. He says Formula One's ability to put names in people's minds remains one of its great strengths.

"We see the trend in Formula 1 that new technologies, new countries and new companies emerge that use them as a great platform to get known quickly, as we say," he explains. "Some brands don't need attention. They want the content that the sport and the drivers are creating."

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing

Photo: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

"Then if you look at some of our newer partners like Darktrace, they are companies that are growing fast and need a global platform to put their company and their skills in the spotlight."

"You can do that through traditional media. It's pretty expensive, though. Seeing Formula 1 reaching hundreds of countries and hundreds of millions of fans every two weeks is an efficient way to get your company a lot of exposure very quickly "said Brown.

What Formula 1 is currently delivering is a win-win situation for the high-tech industry.

With images from Motorsport Images.