With the Formula One close season having taken hold, fans craving that motorsport fix often start to explore other racing series. The 2016 Nascar season kicks off in a little over one month’s time and through a series of short films complied by Mobil 1 The Grid we explore the merits of the series and take a look at areas in which Nascar has the jump on F1.
Guiding Mobil 1 The Grid through this series of films is the Stewart-Haas Racing team, any Formula One fan questioning the credibility of the Haas F1 Team 2016 entry would do well to pay attention here. The shear scale of Stewart-Haas Racing operation is nothing short of breath-taking. The frenetic nature of the Nascar schedule and the teams 4 car line up means that at any given time, the team can have up to 60 race cars moving through the facility. The operation exacts the same if not greater levels of precision and commitment seen through F1.
Through levels of team access unseen in Formula One, crew team member James Keener explains his multiple roles within the Stewart Haas Racing team and the dedication given to not only find success, but continually improve. On the face of it the technology seen in this film may feel somewhat antiquated when compared to an F1 pitstop, but through standardising process and machinery the series have managed to ensure a process remains relatable to the customer and any focus on improvement is on the individual rather than spending money to find an extra tenth of a second. Perhaps F1 could learn from these standardised approaches.
Taking a look through the Stewart Haas Racing paint shop, we get our first indication of what the Haas F1 Racing team livery could look like. The answer pretty much anything! Unlike F1, Nascar offers it’s teams a freedom to change car paint schemes and sponsors on a race by race basis. Teams and drivers are known more by their racing numbers rather than the colours of the car, something F1 has started to emulate in over the past few seasons. In the case of Stewart Haas Racing, the team has secured a series of long term partners, Mobil 1 being one of them. Through the livery freedom afforded to teams, cars offer partners a tool to get involved in promotional activities over the course of a season. This flexibility in colour scheme and length of agreement can be attractive to sponsors, an area in which F1 appears to be increasingly struggling.
Nascar has in the past been perceived by some as antiquated in its approach to safety when compared to other racing series. This perception could not be further from the truth. Nascar is dedicated to continuously raising the bar for the driver and the fan. Working closely with the teams and race venues great moves have been taken to reduce risk without impacting the show.
Finally, Mobil 1 The Grid profiles Danica Patrick. The first lady of Nascar. A true ambassador for the series and for women in motorsport. With the support of the Stewart Haas Racing team Danica Patrick has a established herself as a formidable competitor and within s series in which race craft is key is continually building towards delivering major success for the team. F1 teams would do well to look at long term support Stewart Haas Racing has offered Danica Patrick and how this commitment is paying off.
Nascar ignores the backroom politics and is fully focused on making the show the best it can be for its fans. With levels of access unheard of in the F1 community at a price that won’t break the bank, when you are making your motorsport holiday fix plans for 2016, Nascar deserves serious consideration.
The Lotus F1 Team transition back into the Renault F1 Team continues with the confirmation earlier this week that Eric Lux and Andrew Ruhan have left the company.
Eric Lux, a founding partner of Genii Capital, the previous owners of the Lotus F1 Team, took directorship with the team in 2010. His move away from the team further suggests Genii Capital’s future involvement in the team will be minimal. At this time there has been no indication over the future of Gerard Lopez, Genii Capital co-founder, with the Enstone based F1 team.
Andrew Ruhan, an entrepreneur finding success in the property sector, joined the team as an investor in a director position in 2013. He latterly became a partner within Genii Capital. Andrew Ruhan’s involvement with the team came at a time of refinancing and consolidation. It is not clear if the investments made by either Genii Capital or Andrew Ruhan have been or will be recovered as part of the Renault takeover of the team.
On Monday, January 4th 2016, Ferrari officially listed with the ticker symbol RACE on the Italian Stock Exchange. Ferrari now have stock listing on both the MTA and the NYSE.
“Ferrari: A new milestone, a new start”
These were the words Sergio Marchionne inscribed in the guest book of the Italian Stock Exchange during the Ferrari Listing Ceremony on the MTA. Raffaele Jerusalmi, CEO of Borsa Italiana (the Italian Stock Exchange) presided over the ceremony, which took place a few months following Ferrari’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange last October 21st, while Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy, was the guest of honour.
The stock began trading after Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne, FCA Chairman John Elkann, Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa and Ferrari Vice Chairman Piero Ferrari rang the traditional opening bell.
Thereafter Marchionne held a brief speech, during which he thanked Prime Minister Renzi for attending the ceremony, and for what he is doing for the country. He underlined the fact that Ferrari’s listing on the MTA represents a new start, rather than a point of arrival, emphasizing that the now complete spin-off from FCA reaffirms the independence Ferrari has always enjoyed within the group.
Furthermore, he highlighted the brand’s Italian heritage and thanked John Elkann and Piero Ferrari, heirs of Giovanni Agnelli and Enzo Ferrari, who in 1969 forged a great alliance based on mutual respect. Marchionne also paid tribute to the city of Milan (represented in the audience by Francesca Balzani, Vice Mayor of Milan) where Enzo Ferrari began his career behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo.
Naturally, Marchionne also made reference to the impending Formula 1 season. He joked with Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene that now that all requested investments have been made, he expects Ferrari to return to return to its rightful place at the top of the sport.
Joking aside, as a publicly listed company Ferrari are now, more than ever, answerable to shareholders. Whilst short to medium term investment and commitment to Formula One may be assured, it the team do not see success continued support could be increasingly difficult to justify. A cost conscious Ferrari could ultimately be beneficial to Formula One with a clear budget cap and therefore annual cost being of appeal to the banking / investment community.
With 2015 Ferrari power unit supply secured for Italy’s second F1 team in 2016 and reports published by the Reuters Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO, has hinted Ferrari power units may soon sport Alfa Romeo branding for a customer team within F1. The possibility of Scuderia Toro Rosso adopting the branding is an increasing possibility.
Whilst public offerings in both the New York and Milan stock exchange have effectively spun Ferrari off from FCA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, through majority shareholder Exor retain significant shareholding in the sports car maker and as such remain keen to transfer the racing pedigree across other brands within the organisation.
Both Scuderia Ferrari and Scuderia Toro Rosso have declined to comment on speculation around possible branding at this time, but the rumours have not dissipated. With news emerging this morning that Spanish oil giant Cepsa have not renewed sponsorship commitments with Toro Rosso clearing the way for possible Shell branding with the team for the 2016 season possible alignment appears increasingly likely.
The rationale for FCA and Ferrari to pursue such a move exists on both a commercial and sporting front. Commercially FCA could lean on the youthful nature of Toro Rosso, Red Bull and the young driver line up in an attempt to entice a younger audience to the Alfa Romeo brand, a brand which with ambition exists to more than quadruple sales by 2018. From a sporting perspective there is then the question around the future of Max Verstappen; following a sensational rookie year in 2015 many expect Mercedes and Ferrari to be battling to secure his services at the earliest possible juncture. Getting Verstappen under the Alfa Romeo brand whilst still under Red Bull contract and exposing him to virtues of life as a Ferrari driver may go a long way to steering the decision toward a scarlet future.