Formula One racing is among the most expensive of competitive sports. As a result corporate sponsorship is vital to keep a team competitive. Formula One racing team annual budgets are estimated to range from $66 million to $400 million. When the costs necessary to design and support a winning team are considered these estimates appear accurate.
Successful Formula One racing requires specially designed vehicles. A Formula One racing team includes engineers and designers who create innovative ways to improve racecar design, safety and speed. These engineers and designers require computers and testing equipment. In addition, new design ideas must be custom created prior to vehicle testing. Vehicles must be track tested to determine whether a new design feature will work. Aerodynamic design features require wind tunnel testing which adds an additional expense to the design-testing program.
Safety concerns and FIA regulations require specially formulated fabrics to be used in the making of Formula One racing overalls, helmets and portions of the racecar.
The maintenance and repair of the two Formula One racing vehicles is also an expensive part of racing. Racecar engines are required to last for an entire race weekend but are replaced before each weekend. Each racecar will require multiple tire replacements during a race. Specially formulated fuel is required to operate the racecars. Multiple replacement parts for every portion of the Formula One racing vehicle need to be on hand at each circuit to prepare the car for the race.
Because Formula One World Championship races are held at circuits around the world travel and transportation budgets are high for Formula One racing teams. At European races allow the team to transport their cars, equipment, motor homes and kitchen equipment by truck convoy. Circuits outside of Europe require that most of the same items be transported by jumbo jet with fees charged for excess weight. Formula One racing teams must also pay transportation, food and lodging expenses for all the necessary teams members who participate in the race.
A Formula One racing team also consists of many behind the scenes employees who coordinate travel, handle publicity and perform other vital tasks. The number of team members required to operate a winning Formula One racing team results in an expensive payroll budget.
A new team considering joining Formula One racing has another expense to consider. A $47 million up-front payment to FIA is required from any new team that wishes to enter the Formula One World Championship. This deposit is repaid to the team throughout the race season.
During the 1990s technological advances caused a sharp increase in the cost of Formula One racing competition. Teams funded by large auto manufacturers had the advantage of deeper pockets as well as corporately supplied parts. As a result most independent teams were unable to maintain a competitive edge. Twenty-eight teams have left Formula One racing since 1990 as a result of the inability to match the financial resources for corporately funded teams.
The popularity of Formula One racing creates interest from corporate sponsors looking for a high-profile sport with plenty of merchandising opportunities. Sponsorships work as an income source that Formula One racing teams can use to offset their increasing expenses. Continued popularity of the sport is certain to result in additional sponsorships in the future. As the cost of Formula One racing continues to increase teams will look for new and innovative sources of income.