Formula 1 has been trying to ‘break’ America for decades and it looks like the sport is finally making huge inroads into the US market. Yet there is a price to pay for success in the United States, which F1 may be willing to pay, but which could forever pervert the world’s premier series of motor racing prototypes. A new crisis could hit the sport if the fresh money disappeared overnight.
Liberty Media, which acquired F1 from partners Ecclestone and CVC Capital in 2017, immediately fired Ecclestone as CEO. Yet Ecclestone had managed to transform F1 from racing in muddy fields to a global sport where only the richest could become partners and pay a huge premium for it.
The new commercial rights holder owned by FOM Liberty Media is taking Formula 1 in a new direction.
Whether it was luck of genius, FOM has signed on with Netflix to produce an American hit docu-drama based on each season’s on-track action and off-track battles within the piraña club.
All 10 episodes of this season will be difficult for Netflix to schedule given the silly dramas of the season that started unfolding after the last run before summer break. Fernando Alonso sabotaged Alpine’s plans when he announced he was leaving for Aston next year. The Alpine team boss has revealed that he first learned about it from the Spaniard’s press release.
Then Alpine lost its coveted young academy driver Oscar Piastri in a bizarre move that saw the Australian announced as the team’s driver for 2023 just 90 minutes later for him to refute the company’s claims. French team.
Such has been the rise in popularity of F1 in the US, F1 stars like Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo have appeared on major US TV shows. The two are consulting on upcoming big budget F1 films, one of which will star Brad Pitt.
F1 owners are benefiting hugely from this expansion, as a new survey reveals that 100 US companies are now partners in the sport.
Spomotion Analytics found that these partners have doubled in recent years with more than 30 new US partners joining F1. They include tech companies like Qualcomm, Alphabet, and Salesforce. Tech companies make up nearly half of the new partners, with most being publicly traded.
US partnerships now total around a third of all global sports partners and McLaren with US CEO Zak Brown was quick to capitalize. The British racing brand has in recent years signed partners like Dell, Arrow Electronics, Alteryx Analytics, Cisco, DeWalt, Gopuff, Alphabet and Goldman Sachs.
The generally conservative Ferrari team now has 7 American companies on board with only 10 Italian companies in comparison.
Spomotion Analytics partnership analyst Björn Stenbacka described the United States as having “Formula 1 fever.”
“What we see is exceptional” Stenbacka said. “Formula 1 has always been ‘the European racing series’, but not anymore. Since Liberty Media took over in 2017, a lot has happened. important for Formula 1, with a lot of attention from fans and companies.
“We are likely to see more Fortune 500 companies in Formula 1 in 2023. The United States has Formula 1 fever.”
However, there are voices of caution regarding new Formula 1-obsessed American partners.
Bernie Ecclestone believes “Freedom could distort and ruin F1 because they have no experience.”
“They produce Formula 1: American Style,” Ecclestone told Bloomberg. “Maybe it’s fine, because so many stupid things are coming out of America and everyone’s happy, but that wasn’t how I ran things.”
With faux lakes in Miami and a permanent F1 center to be built on the Vegas Strip, the sport is clearly on fire. Still, F1’s guardians need to make sure they protect its core values. The loss of at least 2 European circuits by 2024, for example, has not been well received in the heart of F1.
The real risk here is that in the blind pursuit of a new and untested market like the US, F1 may well find itself abandoning its reliable base with a potentially insubstantial structure under the guise of US money to its place.