Brands set to quit F1 as contract wrangles drag on

Leading global brands could walk away from multi-million pound Formula One sponsorship deals if the sport is split in two with the formation of a breakaway series, sponsorship experts warn.

Five manufacturers and seven teams met last week to discuss the future and concluded that they had no alternative but to set up a rival series to F1 because of the way the sport is run.

Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of Formula One Management – and the most powerful man in F1 – and Max Mosley, president of the FIA, the sport’s governing body, have long dismissed rumours of a breakaway series but they must now take drastic action to avert the most serious threat the sport has faced.

The teams are contracted to F1 until 2007, but only Ferrari, Red Bull and Jordan have signed up with Ecclestone beyond that, with the likes of McLaren, Renault and BAR in the other camp.

BLM Sports Marketing account director Robin Clarke says: “The FIA must quickly seek alliance with the breakaway manufacturers before more sponsors follow Hewlett-Packard’s lead by pulling out of contracts early. If they don’t, the gap left by tobacco sponsors will never be filled, leaving F1 some way down the grid in motorsport.”

Alastair Macdonald, managing director of sports sponsorship agency Connexus, adds: “It is a concern for sponsors because they are seeking to build a long-term association with a sport and the values associated with it. This will make them think about whether they need to start looking at alternatives.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here