The Car Manufacturers Return to Formula 1
March 2, 2011
Over the years car manufacturers have come and gone from F1, given the mass exodus we had in 2008/9 with Honda, BMW and Toyota all leaving and with Renault downscaling to engine supply, you could be forgiven for thinking that we were entering another manufacturer free period, similar to that that existed in the 1970s when only Fiat (via Ferrari) and Ford (via Cosworth) were involved.
However we have recently seen a new phenomenon with car manufacturers such as Proton’s Group Lotus and Nissan’s Infiniti entering F1, not as constructors or even engine suppliers, but as sponsors. This is an interesting shift and one which seems to suggest a changing business model for the manufacturers in F1. It may be that both Lotus and Infiniti will become more involved, but currently they have decided the acquisition of a team or building, or badging, their own engine is not the way to go. Perhaps we will see more partnerships of this kind between car manufacturers and F1 teams – watch this space!