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Formula One Funding; Merchandise, Sponsorship And Big Business

Formula One Funding; Merchandise, Sponsorship And Big Business

The funding of Formula 1 is a mystery for many fans and even those inside the sport’s inner circles have trouble understanding the complexities. What is generally known is that funding for Formula 1 consists of huge sponsorship, television coverage and merchandise sales. The merchandise sales are somewhat of an afterthought for sponsors but as the popularity of Formula 1 is growing the merchandise market is also on the increase.

Formula 1 is like many other sports in respect to television coverage. Advertisers will pay for slots in the TV coverage and may even sponsor a specific channel’s coverage of an event. This lucrative method brings vast amounts of funding to the organising body of Formula 1, the FIA as well as its funding company, Formula One. This is important as Formula One is in the driving seat of presenting the Formula 1 package to the public, hence it needs immense funding to carry out these roles.

The Formula 1 teams support themselves in a number of ways; the bigger teams will be able to court sponsors from some of the biggest names in business, whereas smaller teams must make do with lower profiles patrons. Teams also produce their own merchandise ranges to cater for the needs of the average fans; once again the more popular teams obviously make more money.

Venues in the Formula 1 calendar are somewhat limited with their advertising freedom. As Formula 1 is ran by a small number of big business share holders the venue bosses are pushed out of the commercial decisions. Most venues do not have the rights to place their own signage and must pay to host the race. The majority of money made by venues is in the ticket and merchandise sales once fans are inside the track.

This explains why Formula 1 tickets can be very expensive, mainly due to venue managers trying to recoup some of the 13 million dollars they fork out annually to host a race. Hosting a Formula 1 race however is more about the prestige of being a premier world race track.

Formula One is the name of the business behind the sport of Formula 1; it is these businessmen and financiers that control how each race is funded and which sponsors are given preferential treatment. They also decide how much to ‘top up’ F1 teams’ merchandise and sponsorship profits; although this is kept a secret and can sometimes cause friction between teams.

The teams in recent years have not been making enough money from merchandise and sponsorship sales and are beginning to barter for more money from Formula One. Their argument is that they are the entertainers in the sport and so should get a bigger slice of the cake, whether this will be successful is doubtable.

The drivers are not paid from Formula One funds but are employees of the racing teams. The astronomical sums that many of them receive are incomprehensible to those on an average wage, they are however the best drivers in the world and have worked hard to get where they are. The popular drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso can also sign separate merchandising deals, usually for such luxury items as watches and jewellery.

The Formula 1 gravy train is driven by the big business that is Formula One, while Bernie Ecclestone holds a small part of the power in Formula 1; the big businesses that put up a lot of the funding ultimately demand respect. The bankers of the Formula One Company balance payment and income to keep Formula 1 at the pinnacle of motor racing entertainment.

Seemingly the biggest losers in the Formula 1 world are the venues, as ticket sales are most probably the smallest income when compared with the huge TV sponsorship and merchandise deals. In what is seen as an exclusive sport for the rich, the average fan can only afford his team’s merchandise. With high ticket prices and the worldwide nature of the sport it is hard for anyone but the super rich to follow this sport closely from the trackside.

Motor Racing expert Thomas Pretty looks into how Formula 1 merchandise as well as sponsorship deals fund the Formula 1 industry. To find out more please visit

Watch as Nigel Mansell wins the 1991 British GP. After Senna’s car fails Mansel pulls over and Senna rides back on his car. Great stuff you wouldn’t see today.

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