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Views from the Paddock - China and the globalisation of Formula One racing... 13 Sep 2004

Dr Mario Thiessen (GER) BMW Motorsport Technical Director.
French Grand Prix, Rd 10, Qualifying Day, Magny Cours, France, 3 July 2004 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) TAG McLaren talks with David Richards (GBR) BAR Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2004 (L to R): David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren and Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, 10 September 2004 Paul Stoddart (AUS) Minardi Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 15 August 2004

Formula One racing has become a truly global industry, a fact amply illustrated by the upcoming race in Shanghai. We asked some of the team bosses about its move into China and about the transformation of the sport over recent years.

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW-Williams: “Formula One has transformed from a European championship with some overseas races into a true world championship. This is big step into the future of the sport with enormous benefits for the teams. For BMW the Shanghai race goes with high hopes as the Chinese market is the fastest growing one for us. It is a fascinating situation to see that a country with a 1.3 billion population makes a first contact with Formula One. This is a tremendous chance. The race in China will be the most important race of the calendar – comparable to five years ago when Formula One had its first race in Indianapolis to expose it again to the US market.”

Paul Stoddart, Minardi: “Formula One has been a global venue for quite a time but it is only recently that sponsors spending (US$)2.8 billion a year to stay in the sport have realized that fact. It is the only true global platform as it happens around the world 18 times – or like next season – even 19 times - a year. We just should try to get our house in order to become an even more reliable partner for sponsors seeking global exposure. The race in Shanghai with its incredible chance to break into the world’s biggest market and the race in Bahrain that has proven to be a real kick off into the Arab world are the perfect road for demonstrating F1’s potential.”

David Richards, BAR: “I still would dispute that it is an industry rather than a sport. But yes, a sport that has been perfectly commercialized. Bernie and the teams have done a great job because they have created a powerful marketing tool – probably the number one in the sporting marketing platforms in the world. With the Olympics every four years and football every two years, we are on air every two weeks.”

David Pitchforth, Jaguar: “Formula One has become a business and we get very positive signals from sponsors over this fact as it is considered an attraction among blue chip companies. Sponsors want to see balance sheets and auditing systems and F1 teams are now able to come up with these requests. And naturally every globally acting company is eager to have a foot in the Chinese market and the race in Shanghai is the perfect venue to bring marketing concepts to the consumers there.”

Flavio Briatore, Renault: “The race in Shanghai will prove to be the most important move of Formula One in the last few years. To enter a new market you need exposure. Now we have the race – now we have exposure for our sponsors. Now it is up to the teams and their sponsors to create win-win situations from what Bernie has achieved.”

Eddie Jordan, Jordan: “Formula One is unique because you have the human side and the technical side – it is an intriguing situation because you have man and machine – at an exposure level no other platform can provide. Bahrain for example will use its connection with Jordan to create a higher awareness of its high technical standard in the rest of the world to bring global companies to the country and the race in Shanghai will beat all our expectations in terms of market infiltration.”

Ron Dennis, Mclaren: “Fact is we are racing in China and we have to learn to understand the Chinese culture and the mechanisms of getting sponsors there. Their approach to get into commercial relationships is very cautious. But with the race being a success this will open doors for new partnerships. The fact that Formula One is a global venue and many Chinese companies are starting to think in global dimensions can create perfect synergies in the future.”