Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Not all stickers are created equal - A mathematical look at the state of sponsorship in Formula One

Published by John O'Sullivan

F1 sticker pack

As the 2015 F1 cars are launched I notice a distinct lack of sponsorship on the cars. This seems to be a continuation of last year’s slim pickings. To quantify the problem I’ve tabulated the sponsorship coverage of all the teams using the three main areas of the car; Airbox, Sidepod, Rear Wing. I have categorised the stickers into 4 types, only one of which is the elusive “Sponsor”. The other three are:

  • The engine manufacturer: Not a sponsor. e.g. Mercedes three pointed star on the W06 Hybrid airbox
  • The fuel/oil supplier: Not a sponsor e.g. Cepsa on the rear wing of the STR10
  • The team/team owner: Not a sponsor e.g. Red Bull on the sidepod of the RB11 and Genii on the airbox of the E23 Hybrid

There are, as usual, some exceptions and complications. I’ve allowed Infiniti as a sponsor of Red Bull as the engine is by Renault and their stickers are also on the car, more discretely as engine supplier. Kingfisher (a VJ Mallya company) joins Claro and NEC on the airbox of the VJM08 but Kingfisher is not the owner of Force India and there are 2 other sponsors there. Ferrari are also cheeky in putting UPS alongside Shell on the side pod so I’ve allowed that as half a sponsor.

I’ve also made some assumptions on the status of fuel and oil suppliers. Williams are using Petronas (Malaysian) fuel despite their Petrobras (Brazilian) stickers. According to Wikipedia, Force India will run Shell V power in their Mercedes engine and Toro Rosso will run Cespa in their Renault. I would have thought that all Mercedes powered teams would opt to run the optimised Petronas product and likewise that Renault teams would use Total.

TeamAirboxSidepodRear wingTotal (out of 3)
Force IndiaKingfisher, Claro, NECSahara Force IndiaSmirnoff2
Red BullRed BullInfinitiInfiniti, Red Bull1.5
FerrariFerrariUPS, ShellSantandar1.5
SauberN/ABanco do BrasilSauber1
McLarenHonda, MobilN/AN/A0
Toro RossoRed BullRed BullCepsa0

The dollar value of the sponsorships is not taken into account here, so while the Williams comes out on top with 3/3 areas covered in legitimate sponsors, apparently Martini got a bargain, both in the price and the 2014 exposure due to the Williams resurgence.

The table supports my first glance opinion on the state of sponsorship with Williams topping the table and Mclaren at the bottom. However the few surprises include Toro Rosso at the bottom due to their reliance on owner and fuel stickers and Force India’s high ranking due to the plethora of drinks and Mexican telcom sponsors. Also Red Bull is in third place thanks to Infiniti even though they are the most obvious candidate for a single owner-branded car.*

*Based on Red Bull’s interim camouflage livery.