If you spent $3-25 million for the honor of hosting a formula 1 race, you’d think you would do all you can to promote that race in order to get a decent return on investment but therein may be the problem in that spending $20 million may be about all you can afford for a race and the idea of finding another $1-5 million to promote it just isn’t in the budget.

Regardless, on the heels of the Italian Grand Prix, F1 commercial boss, Sean Bratches, says there are only four or five promoters doing a decent job of it in F1 at the moment.

“I think there’s some inherent wind behind our sails in Monza,” said Bratches.

“But our intention is to create an overlay for our promoters, to help them activate.

“By definition a promoter should be promoting, and I think we have to encourage more of that.

“We have 20 promoters, but only four or five are truly promoters – the rest are car enthusiast groups or governments.

“We’re trying to bring everybody up to a standard, and Monza is something that should be looked at in a favourable light.”

Bratches said Monza had been able to tap into something special with its partisan crowd and that created a memorable grand prix.

“I think the passion and emotion and energy and excitement amongst this fanbase was captivating,” he said.

“It was very contagious, and I had a wonderful grand prix, not only on a business level, but on a personal level.

“Going into the fan zone and watching everyone excited was really from my perspective very gratifying.”

While I agree that the scene in Monza was atypical of an Italian Grand Prix, this may be Sean’s first rodeo there but it isn’t ours. I’m glad he had a great time and was awed by the sight but it isn’t anything new to veteran F1 fans. Ferrari and Italy are one. When I went to Maranello with Shell V-Power, I discovered that first hand.

The Italian race is as driven by Ferrari and Italian passion as it is promoted for success. The recent Belgian Grand Prix has had an upswing of attendance and surely the mob of orange shirts hints at what that might be, right?

The British is loaded with fans and there could be a case to be made that the BRDC isn’t promoting the heck out of that race but still, throngs of fans show up with shirts, hats and flags bearing the number “44”. I think we know why attendance is strong there.

My point is that F1 promoters should do more to promote the races. I’ve said that for years now but F1 has a much bigger role in that process than alluded to in this article. Magnetic driver personalities, exciting and competitive racing between teams and iconic circuits with decent easement are all part of the formula for a successful grand prix weekend. There is also the lean years when the title was decide early making the remaining race a bit of a ho-hum affair. That’s contextual impact that can’t be predicted.

I am not disagreeing with Sean on his comments but “bringing everyone up to standard” should include bringing F1 itself up to standard and capitalizing on the heroes and stars he has in his arsenal. I’ve argued for a long time that F1 doesn’t market itself and that it should. The promotion of a race is a partnership and hopefully Sean can do a much better job of making a promoters job a heck of a lot easier by producing market activations and content that compliment a promoters investment.

Hat Tip: Autosport

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Mark Leel

    I think Monza achieved record attendance because Ferrari have been competitive. Also Vettel (Ferrari driver) was leading the championship coming into the Italian GP.

    • This resonates with what I am trying to say I think. If F1 has stars like Lewis, Seb, Fred, Max, Dan…they need to push that marketing appeal. Look at the impact it had on Spa. Massive attendance to see Max DNF. I said before that Bernie had a way of making sure the superstars of F1 ended up in the right places in order to garner fan appeal. F1 needs to sort its engine issue out and produce exciting, competitive racing and the fans will come to see Lewis, Seb, Max et. al. race. I could be wrong but thousands of Dutch fans didn’t come to take the wheel change challenge in the fan zone.

  • Someone should promote the idea of an eye brow trimmer to Bratches. Is that supposed to be fashionable? Maybe in the insulated world of corporate millionaires. Whats next un-trimmed nose hairs?

  • Michael

    That’s all fine and dandy, but one really needs a compelling form of racing, I would think, unless the race itself is just going to be one of the backdrops to the overall event (seems like that’s what it is all about in Singapore).

    Don’t you just love corporate-speak?

    “I think there’s some inherent wind behind our sails in Monza,” said Bratches.

    “But our intention is to create an overlay for our promoters, to help them activate.”

    Bleh, man that makes me want to puke.

    Monza has some wind behind it’s sails? Really?

    Honestly though, I don’t know how it is with new fans coming to the sport. What do they care about? For me, I need to identify with a person or team. For me, I’m a fan of the individual first. I neither hate nor love any constructor in F1. How do you get fans to care about a team or a constructor when there are not any real battles happening on the track? The presenters and some writers are definitely reading from the same script lately talking about this compelling F1 season, but I’m not buying it from a pure racing perspective.

    My gf and I went to go see the Red Bull air races in Texas in 2015. Flew in special to see the event. We watched the last few races the season before and all of the races leading up to the races. By that time, we had developed an interest and had a favorite pilot, Paul Bonhomme. On a side note, never miss a chance to make a great first impression. Paul won the race. We went down a waited almost 2 hours for him to come out and shake hands and sign an autograph. Just about all the other pilots did (There were not many that stayed). No show. He couldn’t be bothered to come out for 20 minutes. We don’t watch the air races anymore.

    I know folks like to point out the good ole days might really not have been all that great, but Brundle himself made a comment during the Monza broadcast…I *think* he was talking about Palmer going against an aggressive Alonso. He said something to the effect, “He wouldn’t have enjoyed going against, Senna, Mansell, Berger, Prost …. back in the day”.

    We need to get back to great on track scraps. Make those scraps available to viewers of social media and get new fans emotionally involved in the sport.

    Maybe that will help promoters “activate”.

  • Don Thorpe

    Just spit balling here, but accessibility to the drivers would help. Can’t afford to go to a F1 race but have been following F1 for 50 plus years. Don’t know if there are autograph sessions scheduled. NHRA and NASCAR have driver meet and greets with fans as part of the normal routine. The origin of that was Richard Petty (NASCAR) in the 60s going into the stands to sign autographs between on track events. Part of it too was drivers with personality without all the regimentation/control of saying the right things. Just an old pharts opinions.