Formula One and Globalization

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/02/2007 02:31:00 PM
I myself cannot explain why I watch Formula One, the pinnacle of motorsport and one of the most-watched sports worldwide. Anyone who has seen it can vouch for the general lack of action: overtaking is few and far between. Despite endless efforts over the years to make the sport more equitable with the introduction of grooved tires and the replacement of V10 engines with V8 ones, the sport remains dominated by a handful of big-spending teams like McLaren and Ferrari with annual budgets in the neighborhood of a mind-boggling $500 million a year.

Make no mistake: F1 is hideously expensive, as anyone who's tried to buy F1 paraphernalia knows. It's part sport, part marketing gimmick, part research and development, and part IPE. Europe is becoming a somewhat saturated market for F1. Whereas most races used to be held in Europe, newer races are now being held in places like Malaysia, Turkey, Bahrain, and China. In order to host these events, governments in these developing countries have splurged on creating race tracks. However, it seems that even more countries are vying for future races as F1 has proven to be quite profitable for those countries that already host them. Money talks.

The BBC is now featuring a documentary series on F1 entitled "Formula for Success." For F1 fans, it is a must-see. For everyone else, it's still fascinating for the insights it promises to make on the global business strategies of multinational sponsors, sports marketing, and globalization. By all means, catch some of the eight episodes which last 30 minutes each (you can check for viewing times on the BBC site). Now if you'll excuse me, I have to set the old VCR. Unlike F1, I'm still low-tech without a DVR. Here is the program blurb, BTW:
Formula One is a business whose product is entertainment wrapped up in the shape of cars that cost millions to produce, develop and race.It has an estimated turnover of $4bn, employs 50,000 people in more than 30 countries and has a foothold in every major economy, from the billionaire playgrounds of Europe and the Middle East to the powerhouse economies of Asia. The first episode in the new BBC World series Formula For Success looks at the money behind Formula One. The programme explores how the sport grew into a multi-billion dollar business during the 1990s on the back of an expanding global television audience. Today, the annual budget for a top Formula One team can exceed $500m – a far cry from the late 1960s when the Lotus team won the world championship on a budget of just £220,000.