In Formula 1, Formula1

After the Formula 1 boom in recent years, sponsors and companies have been knocking endlessly at the teams’ doors to grab a late piece of the cake. But with increasing sponsorship fees, little guidance and global competition, few can make it into a Formula 1 deal. Who’s benefitting from this marketing scarcity and racing hunger? Enter Formula 2, F1’s little sister that’s all grown up now.

Formula 1‘s meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years has sent ripples across the motorsport world. As the pinnacle of open-wheel racing captivates new audiences, one series that has been a prime beneficiary of this attention is Formula 2.

Often racing on the undercards of F1 events, Formula 2 has long been viewed as a “feeder” formula to groom future F1 talent. But now, F2 is emerging from its storied sibling’s shadow and coming into its own as a world-class championship series. Here are some of the key reasons why Formula 2 can be considered the biggest winner from Formula 1’s fame and success.

formula2Increased Exposure and Viewership

With more eyes tuning into grand prix weekends to watch F1, a growing number are also getting their first taste of Formula 2. F2 races frequently serve as support events at the same venues immediately before the main F1 event. This schedule gives F2 unparalleled exposure to F1’s expanded audience. Many who sample F2 for the first time are finding the spec series delivers incredibly close, unpredictable racing often absent in F1. Broadcast numbers testify to this growing interest, with Formula 2 viewership up 30% in 2021 alone.

Budget-Friendly Sponsorship Category

As the costs to sponsor an F1 team continue to rise into the hundreds of millions, brands who want in on the action but lack those deep pockets are finding Formula 2 a highly attractive alternative. Sponsoring an F2 team or even a specific driver provides excellent brand exposure during the high-profile grand prix weekends at a fraction of the F1 price tag. With caps on team budgets, F2 offers a relatively cost-controlled entry point for companies to test the waters in motorsport marketing. Those achieving success can then evaluate bumping up to F1.

Spotlight on Rising Talents

The exciting talents racing wheel-to-wheel in Formula 2 are no longer an afterthought for most fans. Increased coverage now highlights how F2 drivers are poised to become the next Verstappens, Russells and Leclercs. With F1 seats so coveted, the stakes are sky-high for F2 racers still chasing the dream. Their push to impress F1 team scouts results in captivating, aggressive racing. Storylines around rivalries, redemption and progression through the junior formulae all add drama for engaged fans.

Stepping Stone to sponsorship newbies

For companies wishing to enter the motorsport sponsorship landscape, Formula 2 provides a more accessible starting point and a great learning platform. These bridge opportunities make F2 an ideal mechanism for new markets to build motorsport affinity.

Elevated Media Profile

With fan appetite for F1-related content surging, major media partners like Sky Sports F1 are giving fuller coverage to Formula 2 as part of their programming. Dedicated features like Sky’s “Road to F1” series shine a spotlight on rising talents and position F2 as must-see entertainment, not just a training ground. The overall expansion of motorsport media has granted F2 more real estate across TV, newspapers, websites, streaming, and social media.

Grassroots Fan Engagement Opportunities

While the ultra-exclusive nature of F1 limits fan access, Formula 2 maintains a grassroots ethos. F2 actively courts fan loyalty through driver meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, competitions, and social media interactions. This community building fosters organic supporters who don’t just tune in for the on-track action, but feel invested in the people involved. It’s an area where F2 holds an advantage even over its elder sibling.

Formalized Pathway to F1

The formal creation of the F1 feeder series ladder, with F2 positioned just below F1, has provided greater structure and incentives. With F1 teams having input on the direction of F2 and a vested interest in its success, the two series now work hand-in-hand. F1 outfits can place junior drivers and evaluate talent in the ideal environment before promoting them. For fans, this integration provides a cleaner narrative arc to follow rising stars chasing the dream.

The symbiotic relationship between Formula 1 and Formula 2 ensures success flows both ways. Like any younger sibling, F2 has flourished under the spotlight shining ever brighter on its record-breaking older brother. It has carved out a distinctive identity that serves and rewards fans, drivers, teams and sponsors in its own right. And with F1 expanding its reach, F2 is poised for even greater global growth in the years ahead. For any young racer aspiring to grand prix glories, the road to F1 clearly runs through F2.

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Riccardo Tafà
Riccardo Tafà
Managing Director for RTR Sports, Riccardo graduated in law at the University of Bologna. He began his career in London in PR, then started working in two and four-wheelers. A brief move to Monaco followed before returning to Italy. There he founded RTR, first a consulting firm and then a sports marketing company which, eventually, he moved back to London.
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