2015 season preview – sponsorship

Motor Racing – Formula One World Championship – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preparation Day – Abu Dhabi, UAE

That eternal equation – is the income greater than the outgo? It’s a timely question as we approach the new season, and sponsorship is certainly one of the main revenue streams for Formula 1 teams. Who has been successful in attracting new sponsorship and who is challenged? The answer is not always an obvious one.

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Well (sigh). The big news about sponsorship for the 2015 season is that there isn’t much big news. Formula 1 teams are finding few sponsorships that could be called significant, perhaps a sign of global economic conditions. Even McLaren have not landed the title sponsor that they promised more than a year ago.

Success on the racetrack has not automatically translated to success in attracting new sponsors. For example, the Mercedes and Red Bull teams, first and second in the Manufacturer’s championship, have only a few new sponsorships for 2015. Now it could well be that they didn’t need or were not looking for much in terms of new partnerships, being they are quite well funded.

Williams though can claim to have attracted several new sponsors, even appropriating a couple from the Lotus team. Their return to form on the track has been a positive for the team and warmly welcomed by fans.

Several of the new sponsorships are a result of certain drivers joining new teams and bringing sponsor dollars with them. Toro Rosso and Sauber are examples of that, and even Ferrari have a couple of new Latin American brands as a consequence of Esteban Gutiérrez signing as test and reserve driver.

Perhaps the most interesting of the new sponsorships are from Capriza, who signed with Lotus. Capriza is a small technology firm from California, having started in 2011 and employing about 60 people as of October 2014. They are at the opposite end of behemoth multinational corporations with billions in revenues and hundreds of thousands of employees.

Several of the new sponsorships are a result of certain drivers joining new teams and bringing sponsor dollars with them.

Capriza will assist Lotus with simplifying some of their business processes and making it possible to complete those processes on a mobile device. Pre-season photos show the Capriza logo front and centre on the front wing, ensuring the firm lots of exposure. It will be interesting to see how the partnership develops with Lotus and what the sponsorship can mean for the growth of Capriza.

So let’s have a look at new team sponsorships, in order of the team’s finish in the 2014 Manufacturer’s Championship.

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Manufacturer’s champion Mercedes move into the 2015 season largely intact from 2014. Driver’s champion Lewis Hamilton remains with the team as does Nico Rosberg; we’ll soon see if this year will be a repeat of the close battles from 2014 or if other teams are able to close the performance gap.

Mercedes picked up a few new sponsorships for this year. Epson, the printer and office products company, has signed as an Official Team Partner and will provide the team with products and expertise in printers, projectors, scanners and wearable technology. Epson has a nice bit of history with F1, starting with sponsorships of Lotus and Tyrrell back in the 1980’s.

Business and travel gear company TUMI signed as an Official Team Supplier and will provide the team with their Tegra-Lite and Alpha 2 luggage products.

The logistics specialist firm DB Schenker will handle transportation of the big kit for the team. Mercedes confirmed a new four-year agreement with Schenker to cover logistics at all European races, tests and promotional events, including transportation and construction of motorhomes and engineering offices.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing

Of course, the big news at Red Bull is Vettel’s jump to Ferrari, thus making Daniel Ricciardo the #1 driver for Red Bull. Some might say he actually assumed that spot last year with his dominance over Vettel. Hot shoe Daniil Kyvat from the Toro Rosso team steps up to take Vettel’s former seat.

Exness, a foreign exchange broker, became a Team Partner beginning with the 2015 season. Exness say they partnered with the Red Bull team for the same reasons that traders choose Exness – rapid growth, commitment to quality, achievements and a professional team.

Williams Martini Racing

To the delight of many F1 fans, Williams had a strong resurgence in 2014. Drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will return for 2015 and have a good chance at podium positions, including the top step.

Alpinestars, the motorsport apparel specialist, has signed with Williams to provide fireproof race clothing for the team drivers and pit crewmembers. Meanwhile, Williams also signed Hackett, the luxury clothing and accessory company, as a supplier for apparel and luggage to be used by team members during their travels.

Williams also signed Dtex Systems as a new technical IT partner, who will provide security software tools. In addition to the F1 team under the Williams banner, there also is Williams Advanced Engineering that adopts F1-derived technology and know-how for commercial customers. Dtex auditing software tools will help ensure that data and intellectual property remain with their proper owners, protecting the interests of both the F1 team and customers of the Advanced Engineering division.

Perhaps reflecting the turn of fortune for the Lotus F1 team last year, Williams picked up two sponsors that had been partners with Lotus, Avanade and Unilever’s Rexona brand:

  • Avanade is a global business technology, cloud and managed services provider. Avanade and the Williams team will work together to develop a suite of tools to ensure that the team optimises its new enterprise platform.
  • Unilever signed a partnership with Williams to increase brand awareness of its Rexona deodorant brand. In addition, the Williams Advanced Engineering division will provide Unilever with support in the areas of sustainability and efficiency.

Scuderia Ferrari

Let’s avoid the obvious and not even mention Ferrari’s rough 2014 season. Fernando Alonso looked for greener pastures at McLaren as Sebastian Vettel bets he can help turn around Ferrari. Vettel joins Kimi Raikkonen as he hopes for a better car this year.

There is not much new in terms of sponsorship for Ferrari. The arrival of Esteban Gutiérrez as test and reserve driver also brought sponsorship from America Móvil, the telecoms company based in Mexico with a strong presence in Latin America and Europe. America Móvil brands Claro and Telcel will be visible on the cars and driving suits.

McLaren Honda

As mentioned, Fernando Alonso moves to McLaren for another go, and Jenson Button finally got the nod over Kevin Magnussen to partner with Alonso.

The most significant sponsorship news out of McLaren is their continued lack of a title sponsor. Ron Dennis had declared a new sponsor would be announced in December 2013, now more than a year later he is adamant that he will not lower the prices on his rate card simply to get a major brand as a sponsor. Dennis seems more comfortable with signing a number of “medium” sized sponsors to compensate for lack of a title sponsor.

Perhaps CNN International is the first example of that approach. CNN International had been associated with Caterham but jumped over to McLaren with an announcement in January this year. A multi-year partnership was signed though business details were not released.

CNN branding will appear on the front wing of the new McLaren; CNN will also have a broadcast studio at the McLaren Technology Campus from which programs will be produced and broadcast globally on the network.

The agreement does seem more of a partnership as opposed to old school writing a cheque to get a logo on the car – the McLaren partnership announcement states “…both parties see the potential to amplify the scope and scale of the partnership in the years to come, in areas such as sharing expertise and resources, cross-marketing their brands, and utilizing networking and business relationships.” It will be interesting to see what develops between the two companies with some time.

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India have Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez returning for 2015, with a number of new sponsorships – hopefully enough to generate positive financials for the team. NEC, switching from Sauber, is given top position on the engine cover of the new Force India car, in a new partnership with the Japanese electronics firm.

Apsley Tailors signed with Force India to be the team’s supplier of bespoke clothing for the team drivers and senior management. A London-based tailor, Apsley has a 125-year heritage with a reputation for quality and comfort.

Inter, a major insurance broker in Mexico and Latin America, also signed as a Force India partner. Inter logos will appear on the front wing of the new Force India car as well as on driving suits and team gear.

The leading global tequila brand Jose Cuervo has also switched its sponsorship from Sauber to Force India. Jose Cuervo joins Smirnoff as a drinks sponsor for the team. We’ll also see the Claro, Telcel and Telmex brands from America Móvil in their second year with Force India.

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso has signed two rookie F1 drivers for 2015, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. The team and drivers can expect a lot of attention as these drivers jump into the deep end.

Along with the new drivers, Toro Rossi signed Spanish brewery Estrella Galicia as a new sponsor for 2015. The brewery has sponsored new Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz as he worked his way up to F1, and also sponsors the sensational Marc Marquez in MotoGP. Estrella Garcia 0,0 is an alcohol-free beer, which may enable the brewery to dodge the threat of a ban on drinks sponsors, as was done to tobacco sponsors a few years back.

Lotus F1 Team

After a tough season in 2014, Lotus has switched from a Renault to Mercedes AMG power unit. The team will see drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado continue in their seats for 2015.

Lotus has announced IT firm Capriza as a new technology partner beginning this year. Based in Palo Alto, California, Capriza is a young company, having only started in 2011. The firm specializes in creating mobile-friendly applications of enterprise software tools, simplifying business tasks so they can be quickly completed on mobile devices. The Capriza logo will be centred on the front wing and will work with Lotus to work more efficiently on mobile devices.

Following that tough 2014 and the loss of two sponsors to Williams, Lotus sounded a bit relieved to announce Saxo Bank, a Danish investment bank, will continue as a team sponsor. Other existing partnerships with Group Lotus, PDVSA, Microsoft Dynamics, Yota Devices, Genii Business Exchange, Richard Mille and EMC will carry on into the new season.

Sauber F1 Team

Also looking for a fresh start in the new year, Sauber made a big splash with a completely new blue and yellow livery for its 2015 car. The team also have a new set of drivers in Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.

Nasr’s arrival also delivered Banco do Brasil as a new Sauber partner. Banco do Brasil have supported Nasr as he competed in Formula BMW Europe, British Formula 3 and GP2. The bank has a lot of faith in Nasr and speaks of him as a successor to Aryton Senna – time will tell.

Sauber has also announced new partnerships with tech company Hewlett-Packard and carbon-connect AG. The HP relationship will provide access to the HP High-Performance Computing Competence Centre in Grenoble for support with computational fluid dynamics and other data-crunching tasks.

The relationship with carbon-connect will allow Sauber to operate in a carbon-neutral fashion for the fourth year. carbon-connect will determine greenhouse gas emissions generated by all team activities, including equipment transport and team member travel. These emissions will be offset through a project in the Brazilian state of Amazonas.

Lastly, bluechemGROUP have joined the Sauber team as a promotional partner. Based in Germany, bluechemGROUP will provide the team with garage items and premium care and service products.

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