The emphasis of the cryptocurrency community has been on decentralization as well as globalization. It shouldn’t surprise, therefore, that many crypto companies sponsor Formula 1 (F1) racing teams in an effort to connect with global audiences.
Global analytics company Nielsen Sports discovered that Formula 1 could reach around one billion people globally in this year’s race. The largest share of fans is the 16-35 age bracket. F1’s appeal is evidently on the rise and cryptocurrency companies are jumping aboard to show their presence. This is a good example of how F1 can be viewed in context. There are currently 10 F1 teams and eight crypto companies sponsoring 8.
F1 and Crypto: A perfect marketing match
Mark DiMassimo is the founder and creative chief at DiGo, a New York-based agency marketing. He told Cointelegraph that Formula 1’s interest in crypto companies makes sense marketing-wise. He said that F1 was a natural extension of crypto companies’ sponsorship efforts since both sectors are exciting, international and involve money.
Red Bull Racing, an F1 racing team, has recently entered into a three year partnership with Bybit, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency trading platform, for $50 million annually. The cryptocurrency exchangeCrypto.com had previously announced a $100m partnership with Formula 1 to support its 2021 “Sprint Series”.
Igneus Terrenus is the head of communications at Bybit. He explained to Cointelegraph that Bybit views sponsorships in sports as an important part of its global marketing strategy. This includes building brand awareness and sentiment in major market markets. Terrenus said that although we are partners with some of the best e-sports teams around the globe, Formula 1 is still the most popular international racing series. Terrenus said that Formula 1 enjoys a wider and more diverse following than any other sport.
“2021’s Abu Dhabi GP ended in a thrilling final-lap decider that saw Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen win over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. This attracted a crowd of 108 million. Super Bowl 2022 between the Bengals and Rams attracted a crowd of 101 million.
Patrick Hillman, Binance’s chief communications officer, stated to Cointelegraph that F1 has become a popular sport because of its worldwide fan base and presence. Binance announced recently a partnership with BWT Alpine F1 Team. He said that F1 is one of the most global sports.
Formula 1 is also being sponsored by blockchain companies. Fantom Foundation, a layer one blockchain platform, announced it was sponsoring the Italian Formula 1 racing team Scuderia Alpha Tauri in January 2022. Michael Kong, CEO of Fantom, stated to Cointelegraph that the partnership was important for many reasons. The primary benefit is exposure. Fantom is able to get more attention because F1 is watched by millions around the world. He said that Fantom’s user growth has been partly due to this.
F1 sponsorships increase as NFTs gain traction
Although crypto companies were initially attracted to F1 sponsorships for marketing purposes, the rise in non-fungible tokens is opening up new opportunities for those involved with Formula 1. A recent Deloitte Global study predicted that sports NFTs would generate more transactions than 2021, which is twice the volume of 2021.
The study also predicts that around five million sports enthusiasts will have an NFT collectible by the end. To coincide with their sponsorships, most crypto and blockchain-based companies that sponsor Formula 1 racing teams have launched NFTs.
Fantom has announced a sponsorship deal with the Brazilian-American Formula 1 racers Pietro Fittipaldi on March 22, 2022. Kong reports that the F1 2022 season will see the two drivers wearing Fantom imagery on the suits and helmets. The Fittipaldi Brothers will also launch their first NFT series via Fantom. Enzo and Pietro have shown a strong interest for emerging technologies. Kong stated that the NFTs will provide unprecedented access for fans and allow them to interact with popular athletes through a new medium.
Cointelegraph was further informed by Pietro Fittipaldi that he and Fantom decided to start an NFT series together because of their involvement in crypto.
“We wanted to share some of the most exclusive items with our supporters and those who support us through NFT. We’ve always been active in the digital world. It was a great feeling to be able through NFTs to compete in the first F1 virtual world championship with my brother.
Fittipaldi said that Rich, a Brazilian artist who is well-known for his graffiti art, will design the NFTs. Fittipaldi explained that these art pieces will be digitized and made into NFTs that allow access to F1 championships as well as access to Fittipaldi’s indy 500 F1 helmet, virtual mini-world championship replica helmet, and other exclusive F1 privileges.
Kong also announced that Infinity NFT, the NFT agency Infinity NFT, will be supporting the Fittipaldi Brothers sales by providing four NFT categories for fans. Each category offers varying levels and degrees of direct engagement.
Terrenus stated that Bybit will be the primary marketplace for NFTs from F1’s Oracle Red Bull Racing Team. Terrenus said that Bybit’s NFT marketplace was launched January 2022. However, Terrenus feels that it has received a lot of support from the community.
Bybit will also issue fan tokens to support the Oracle Red Bull Racing team. This is expected to launch next season. Terrenus says fan tokens will allow the community to voice their opinion in the team’s decision making process.
F1 community learns more about blockchain
It’s not surprising that crypto companies sponsor F1 racing teams and drivers. However, many may wonder how the mainstream will be able to receive these partnerships or NFTs. This is particularly important considering that NFTs, which are still new concepts for non-crypto natives, can be confusing. Recent research by the NFT Club showed that, although NFTs are more popular than ever since Dec. 2020’s, the most common question in 2021 was “Where to buy NFTs?” This shows that the NFT space is still very unfamiliar to a large portion of the population.
Kong observed that Fantom had had a positive experience working with Alpha Tauri. He noted that Fantom was able to explain NFTs and their benefits when Fantom collaborated with Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri F1 driver, on his NFT launch. Kong said, “Hopefully we’ve been in a position to further introduce them blockchain technology.”
Fittipaldi said that NFTs would be well-received by non-crypto natives because of the utility behind them. Fittipaldi said that NFTs can be thought of as digital artwork. However, they also provide access to F1 championships. “The idea behind this drop was to give our fans and community something special, which we plan on offering more of in the future.”
Additionally, F1 team leaders seem to like crypto sponsorships. Motorsport.com published an article this month highlighting this idea. Toto Wolff , Formula 1 Mercedes team boss, stated that it was “funny to understand crypto exchanges,” in reference FTX’s sponsorship of Mercedes.