Formula One: Racing or Corporation?

Sheiban ShakeriSenior Analyst IMay 12, 2008

We are all united here in this section because we love Formula One racing. It's in us to see some of the most technologically sophisticated cars race it out for glory. It's the thrill that something can happen, and we all tune in on TV to see it out.

However, in the most recent issue of F1 Racing Magazine, current Red Bull driver David Coulthard talked about his McLaren days and how he rarely spoke for fear of offending one sponsor. When he made the move to Red Bull, he was encouraged to be himself, but not speak ill of the drink, which he found much easier.

So now, I sit here and wonder, are there too many sponsors for a team? If you look at McLaren-Mercedes right now, they have Vodafone as the main sponsor with Diageo under the Johnnie Walker logo, aigo, Hugo Boss, Santander banks, Hilton Hotels, Schuco, Tag Heuer, Steinmetz, Mobil 1 and SAP as corporate and technological sponsors. There are more minor sponsors in this team as well, and they all get recognition on McLaren's website when you look under their partners.

Obviously, with rising costs of pretty much everything these days, having sponsors is excellent because it brings in much needed revenue in order to pay for the expensive task of traversing the globe. However, having too many to the point that if you as a driver said something that would offend one of your sponsors, then that's just pushing it.

This is what you see with McLaren; it has turned into more of a corporation than a racing team. Although, McLaren has loosened up a little bit with Lewis Hamilton entering the scene, but the team is still corporate.

Obviously, this problem just isn't isolated to McLaren. You can see that with other teams, save for Red Bull and Toro Rosso who have one big sponsor, and that is their namesake (Red Bull also has Metro, but it's so small that it's hardly noticeable).

I am not asking for no sponsors in Formula One and I am not anti-corporate, but I ask that drivers and teams have more freedom to speak their minds as opposed to the corporate line. It puts a human face on the team, drivers, and it makes corporation x more appealing to the consumer based on the mentality that if this team has a carefree and fun time with this sponsor, then this product is good for me because I can have a good time and feel young at heart.

Think about it.