Fans, technology, manufacturers, passion, history, television broadcasts, merchandising, suppliers, speed, owners, shareholders, Bernie, track-side hoardings, Schumacher and money.  A list that includes but a few things found behind the piston of F1 pushing it farther, faster and higher than ever before.  The high-octane world of F1 has made many changes in the last 50 years and one of the changes is the idea of a sponsor.  While you can’t get away from sponsor branding plastered all over every square inch of a NASCAR auto; F1 demands a different level of commitment. A different level of money.  A different level of enthusiast.  A different reach for the mighty four “P’s” of marketing.

Watching Jimmy Clark scream through the blur that is Oulton Park with nothing more than a number on his car are the old days.  When teams spend $40 million plus for testing alone; something has got to give.  That give is the purse strings of sponsors.  Not too long ago Marlboro offered to pay for the salaries of Kimi and Michael, estimated at $70M, if they were retained at Ferrari as the next lineup for 2007.  Apparently Ferrari has been very good to Philip Morris. Hedging a bet that this lineup would increase their percentage of air time on TV to unheard of levels.

Sadly Sir Frank Williams, as quoted as saying by Speed TV, is expecting to lose a sponsor next year.  “Budweiser I think will go” Sir Frank said.  Sadly the beer industry has taken it in the shorts due to the wine rage and narrow minds who must recreate the movie Sideways in their own personal lives with wives, jobs and  four children but I digress.  I have first hand knowledge of the tightening of the belt at Anheuser Busch as they are a client.  That is not to say they are having major travails but share price is down and reductions are made.  A company must get profitable at what ever level the sales are at.  Business 101.

I have read a few articles about this story all claiming that Sir Frank’s poor performance is the issue.  Even Sir Frank has admitted they are not setting the world alight right now.  I argue that companies ebb and flow with share price and reductions are made for purely business reasons.  Sure, Williams may not be after the title but the share price and ROI are more of a driver than performance.  Just look at NASCAR.  The only sport where drivers are bragging about being in the top 25 expecting sponsors to think this is somehow a good result.  Oddly, they must be buying it as sponsors still fork out cash for the 42 cars fielded.  F1 may be more discriminating and as Bernie holds the key to broadcast; he would do well to find more TV time for every single car on the grid to keep sponsors interested.  A lesson NASCAR learned and does well.

Not that Sir Frank needs my encouragement but I will say this; don’t take it personal Mr. Williams, it’s a beer company for crying out loud.  ;)  Ok, maybe the largest in the world but hey…it’s beer.  How about looking into the wine industry since everyone is going Sideways and needs a stiff Pinot for the race?  Just an idea.  Ernest and Julio is a cheap screw cap and bad hang but they may have extra dough to spend.

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