Steiner at Haas and Capito at Williams see business opportunities in Formula 1 growing with US interest

As Formula 1 racing gains traction in the United States, two racing teams that have struggled with funding in the past are now seeing additional opportunities with companies in America.

Jost Capito at Williams and Günther Steiner at Haas don’t sit on the F1 schedule week after week thinking they’re capable of winning the championship. At least not in recent years and certainly not in 2022, where Williams is currently bottom in the Constructors’ Championship and Haas is 8th. Yes they will always work towards that and as part of the race within the race both teams have taken points this year which has not always been a given in the past.

Racing in Formula 1 is by no means cheap. Even with a set cost cap, it was $145 million in 2021 and has been reduced to $140 million for this season. For 2023, it will be reduced to $135 million.

Sponsorship encourages all forms of racing, but Formula 1 eats the most at their table. With races held globally, contracts coloring allows businesses to gain a global foothold.

These offers don’t come cheap given the popularity and countless ways to activate them worldwide. Still, the historic Williams family was forced to sell to investment firm Dorilton Capital in 2020. American Gene Haas owns the Haas F1 team, but Steiner and the company have encountered problems with major sponsors in the past, namely Russian sponsor Uralkali, which was dropped in March due to the invasion of Ukraine.

For decades, the fascination with F1 just never seemed to catch on in the US, and despite much being made of NetflixNFLX
Drive to survive Documentaries are playing a big part in the (finally!) growing interest in F1 in America. After a few seasons under their belt there have been enough converts to say F1 is here to stay. In the space of two years, the global racing league has seen the launch of a race in Miami around Hard Rock Stadium, and in 2023 Las Vegas will host a splashy night race at a level not seen since the races began Eye jumps at Monaco.

I met Jost and Steiner when they were in Vegas for a launch party for the 2023 race. While the smoke still settled from the likes of Lewis Hamilton making donuts on the Strip in front of thousands, both team bosses were more than busy taking calls.

“Given where Williams came from financially, the 2022 season had its challenges,” Jost said over the phone. “I think we’ve accomplished quite a bit off the track – how we’ve developed the factory and the company, developed sponsorship – and developed the commercial side of the business. We also scored points on the track, where we are quite close to the midfield teams. So I think we’re pretty happy with how the season is going so far.”

For Steiner, the growing popularity in the US will pay off directly in 2023. Texas-based digital payments company MoneyGram has inked a multi-year deal with Haas, giving them a lead sponsor for auto liveries since Uralkali was dropped ahead of the 2022 season. Financial terms weren’t provided, but based on other deals more geared toward midpack teams, the deal could be worth as much as $40 million annually; a big cash injection for Haas.

“Living in the US I can see the increased interest in Formula 1 because five years ago we could never have had this US company as a title sponsor, there just wasn’t enough interest even if MoneyGram wanted to go global,” Steiner said . “But MoneyGram is a US company with a sponsorship deal for an American-owned team, so it’s working well.”

Steiner mentioned that with F1’s growing popularity in America, MoneyGram could be one of the first companies to “hop on the bandwagon” in the US

“I think they’re very smart because if you’re first – or one of the first – the price is better because everything is going to go up in the future,” Steiner added.

Formula 1 has experienced a business boom since the purchase of the racing league by the US-based company Liberty Media. Recent Q3 financial reports show that F1 is recovering significantly from the peak of the pandemic posting $82 million in operating income, up 2% from Q3 2021 and this will continue as media rights deals are signed by People like ESPN will start next year.

As Formula 1’s popularity continues to rise, supply and demand will drive additional sponsorship money, even as concerns about global inflation weigh on advertising budgets.

“Liberty has done a fantastic job of bringing the three races to the US, which really reflects the growing interest in America,” said Jost. “I think every team benefits from that. Formula 1 as a franchise consists of only 10 teams. It is the largest, or almost the largest, global sports and entertainment series in the world. With only 10 teams for the entire company, it makes all teams more attractive to sponsorship deals.”

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