With to­bacco rev­enue now for­bid­den, For­mula O

The East African - - OUT­LOOK -

By KATE WALKER

FOR DECADES, For­mula One was syn­ony­mous with to­bacco. Not only was the sport awash with money from cig­a­rette com­pa­nies, but the cars’ liv­er­ies were also re­flec­tions of their spon­sors, from the red and white Marl­boro Mclarens to the black and gold of the John Player Special Lo­tus.

To­bacco brought in an av­er­age of $350 mil­lion per year for For­mula One ear­lier this decade, and com­pa­nies like Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco and Philip Mor­ris In­ter­na­tional helped pay for the sport’s con­tin­u­ous cy­cle of devel­op­ment, the tech­no­log­i­cal arms race that of­ten en­sured that those who spent the most won the most.

But that all ended late in 2006 af­ter For­mula One banned to­bacco ad­ver­tis­ing.

In 2015, the last year for which pub­lic fig­ures are avail­able, the sport’s 10 teams raised about $750 mil­lion from spon­sor­ships, a $200 mil­lion drop from 2012.

That loss of in­come hit the sport about the same time as the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, which forced the Honda, Toy­ota and Re­nault teams to shut down, al­though Re­nault even­tu­ally re­turned. And now F1 is re­con­sid­er­ing whether to con­tinue to ac­cept ad­ver­tis­ing from al­co­hol, fast-food and snack com­pa­nies.

So the sport has been look­ing for a new source of money, and in the past few years teams have been work­ing to form part­ner­ships with the deep-pocket com­pa­nies in the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try that can bring not only high-tech ex­per­tise, but also rev­enue.

Tech­nol­ogy and For­mula One are nat­u­ral part­ners, and com­pa­nies like Mi­crosoft and Dell have long in­vested in the sport. Mercedes, the cur­rent cham­pion, has a num­ber of tech­ni­cal part­ners, in­clud­ing wire­less tech­nol­ogy com­pany Qual­comm and au­dio ex­perts Bose, as well as Tibco, Pure Stor­age, Rubrik and Ep­son. Mi­crosoft Dy­nam­ics has part­nered with the Re­nault team since 2012, and Dell re­turned to the sport this year with Mclaren, hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked with the now-de­funct Cater­ham team.

Mclaren has been ag­gres­sive in ob­tain­ing part­ner­ships over the past decade.

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