File Photo. Brazilian Formula One legend Ayrton Senna in action driving a Marlboro McLaren Honda at the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. (Photo by Paul Velasco / PictureNET Africa) motorsport

Formula One’s most iconic sponsorships

It’s widely known in the world of business that if you want to reach a worldwide audience you need to advertise where it’s accessible globally, and international sports seem to have been one of the best advertising platforms to use for a very long time.

It’s not just about F1 or even automotive racing in general, nowadays we find numerous sponsorships on all kinds of sports which are broadcasted on live television, and it’s thanks to these sponsorships, that the teams and athletes have the sufficient funds to perform and to afford expensive sports resources.

The most popular way to advertise a sponsorship in Formula 1 is by adding decals to the race cars’ liveries.

F1 sponsorship

These advertisement decals & liveries have been implemented into the sport in 1968, even though partnerships to back up manufacturer teams started way back in 1950, when Shell (nowadays have become F1’s largest contributor) Partnered up with Ferrari, and throughout the years, we have seen all kinds of sponsorships, ranging from Tobacco companies, to fake energy drinks, to alcoholic vermouth beverages & more, there was once a point where a particular F1 team had to fall to the hands of the sponsorship of a sketchy Nigerian prince.

The biggest industries that dipped their toes in the world of F1 with fat cheque sponsorships

Big Automotive companies – The long-time suppliers of F1

Undoubtedly, car manufacturing companies have put the most money on these competitions and the competing teams. Not only have they put their badges on F1 teams’ names, they supplied them with engines, resources, and all kinds of technologies used to build these lean mean racing machines. Some of these companies are Aston Martin, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Renault, Mclaren, and of course, one of the most important ones of all, Ferrari.

Honourable mentions which do not produce their own cars but work within the automotive industry are companies like Shell, Pirelli, Michelin, and more, which help with the production of tyres & other crucial parts of the cars.

Tobacco – the first official F1 sponsorship livery

Lotus were the first team to officially kick off their national racing colours from their formula one cars in the year of 1968, when they switched from the classic dark green colour with a yellow stripe, to a red, white and gold blend that was made to resemble a packet of cigarettes from the Tobacco brand called Gold Leaf, which was owned by major Tobacco distributors, Imperial Tobacco.

This opened a whole new world of advertisement for the tobacco industry and cigarette brands such as Marlboro, Mild Seven, Lucky Strike, Rothmans, Camel and more.

Some brands have taken it so far that they got the whole car painted custom to resemble the look of the print on a packet of the sponsor’s cigarettes, and even though we do not see this anymore due to being banned in 2001 due to health authorities banning the advertisement of cigarettes across countless nations, the cigarette box – looking cars will always be one of the most iconic liveries to ever feature in Formula 1.

Betting – Possibly a big part of the future of F1 sponsorships

Even though racing and gambling have been intertwined for thousands of years, the sports betting industry was relatively inactive within the Formula one world when it comes to flashy advertisements to lure bettors who watch the sport live, much unlike they do in other sports like football, where you can almost see a link to a betting site practically on every shirt or banner in the pitch.

Or at least this was until 2018, when betting sites started to appear on some F1 cars here and there, such as the SportPesa ad on the car above which represented the Racing Point F1 Team in the 2021 Grand Prix series.

Betting brands are becoming more and more popular across F1 advertising and due to the amount of revenue they are capable of generating, the funds they offer to the racing teams are almost unmissable. That’s why we’re bound to see an increase of these ads and liveries soon.

With that said, comparison lists like the list of betting sites at will no longer be the only source of learning about new betting sites since there is a good chance that most F1 teams will have betting companies as sponsors for the next season.

The benefits of F1 sponsorships

Formula One which is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is undoubtedly the most prestigious automotive sport in the world, where the fastest, most technologically advanced cars are matched with the most skilled racing drivers on the planet, period.

It’s a globally viewed sport and it’s ranked as the second most famous sporting event in the whole world right after the FIFA World Cup, which makes it a perfect contender for people and companies with endless loads of money to invest in putting their badge on millions of screens broadcasting live races. We’ve seen advertisements of all kinds within the F1 world.

From the racers’ and engineers’ perspective, having these sponsorships is crucial for them to be able to keep producing these ultra high tech race cars and to keep funding the athletes to devote their whole lives to the sport.

If it weren’t for these cash-cow sponsorships most F1 teams would have been bankrupt very long ago, and they are surely not going to be going away anytime soon, and let’s not forget how cool the cars look flying around the tracks with all the crazy decals.