True or False: Formula 1 sponsorship has,
and always will be, expensive.

A simple statement. A simple choice (for
many). But perhaps not.

Could Formula 1 be more affordable than
brands have been led to believe?

Formula 1? Affordable? We hear the
marketeers laugh.

Humour us for a moment.

What if we told you that the exclusive
world of F1 team sponsorship is a little more inclusive and accessible than you
might imagine. That over the past 15 years, the cost of entry to the F1 paddock
has edged steadily closer within reach.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

Now, wouldn’t that be worth knowing?

It is true that the sponsorship deals at the front end of the grid, those that have dominated headlines throughout F1 history, are valued at tens of millions of $$$ – and rightly so, generating unparalleled levels of reach, engagement and new business opportunities. We won’t deny that.

But dig a little deeper into the data, and the reality becomes crystal clear – these mammoth deals are just the tip of the iceberg.

Fact: 76.5% of F1 team sponsorship deals were less than $5 million in 2004.

Fact: 83.2% of F1 team sponsorship deals were less than $5 million in 2011.

Fact: 83.5% of F1 team sponsorship deals were less than $5 million in 2018.

(Fun fact: That’s deflation folks.)


SOURCE: Formula Money (

So, sponsorship within F1 is not as
expensive as we have been led to believe. The perceived barriers to entry have
crumbled, along with the costs – fantastic news. But why? Is this an uncovered
opportunity for branding bliss, or an omen of a dying sport?

Back to the facts:

Motorsport partnership revenue continues to
grow year on year,
averaging +3%
between 2014-2017 (Source: IEG).

This indicates that despite it’s perceived ‘high’ price point, marketeers continue to see value in the platform, and are willing to maintain or increase investment in the sport.

Put simply – Motorsport sponsorship is alive
and thriving.

The key question that brands should
therefore be asking is: Could sponsorship within F1 actually offer value for money?

We have ascertained that the cost of
entry has decreased, whilst revenue has increased. Time to explore why.

The days when brands were content with
spending millions to simply see their logos appear as bumper stickers on cars
are long gone. F1 teams – realising they can no longer rely solely on
substantial eyeballs and media value to sell partnerships – have re-engineered
their sponsorship strategies, evolving to meet the elevated demands of more
progressive, performance led marketeers.

Think brand extensions and bespoke
narratives, along with new asset types such as content formats to augment
performance marketing, big data solutions and mixed reality propositions.

the NBA can offer a courtside seat from the comfort of your own home, why not a
virtual Paddock Club seat at the Monaco Grand Prix?

In addition to this, many teams have
begun to consider the relative merits of Value
in Kind (VIK) partnerships
– the ability for (often technologically integrated) partners to place a cash equivalent value on their products or services. Such agreements both reduce the bottom line of partnerships, whilst also providing a fantastic B2B and/or B2C platform for brands to demonstrate their capabilities.

Not to mention the fruitful lure of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) deals
– attracting brands that are looking for access to the major automotives and
their partnerships, like moths to a flame. Such deals are typically constructed
around sponsorship of a team in exchange for a more privileged relationship
with the automotive, and the opportunity to co-develop products in partnership.

These increasingly sophisticated and
fine-tuned packages are not only widening access to the starting grid,
encouraging a more eclectic line-up of sponsors, but they are also, crucially,
delivering more choice to partners – increasing creative freedom, boosting
engagement and providing more measurable ROI.

Put simply –  the F1 teams are re-branding, and the plethora of sponsorship inventory
flooding the racetrack is making entry level partnerships more flexible,
accessible, and cost-effective than ever before.

The average team sponsorship deal has
decreased from $7.7m in 2004, to $5.6m in 2011 and $5.4m in 2018 (Source: Formula Money).

how does this compare to the wider sport sponsorship landscape?

Time to provide a little context.

Focusing in on the lower $3-6m range, market intel suggests that the average F1 team
partnership ($5.4m) sits alongside a
partnership with the Ryder Cup (est. $6m),
a partnership with the Championships of Wimbledon (est. $3m) and a partnership with the US Open (est. $5m).

These compatriots’ function at a regional level with limited frequency, all but dwarfed by Formula 1’s somewhat incessant global schedule – 21 races, 21
countries, 5 continents – with the season running 9 months of the year, every year.

Indeed, few sporting properties can compete with the global reach of F1 – broadcasting in more than 200 territories and attaining a cumulative TV audience of 1.8 billion (Source: FOM, Nielsen

So – ‘Formula 1 has, and always will be, expensive’?

Time to challenge convention and rethink
your answer.


Part 2 –

Part 3 –

Part 4 – 


CSM, part of the Chime Challenger Network, is a global
integrated marketing agency working across sport, entertainment, media,
lifestyle, innovation, social impact and more. Driven by people pursuing the
extraordinary, we build brands, work with properties and create meaningful,
memorable and measurable live experiences.