Sergio Marchionne is at it again. The outspoken CEO of FCA the parent company to Ferrari is attempting to take over the branding on a third of the F1 field. Maserati branding will reportedly be on Haas F1 cars in 2018.
Last week it was announced that Alfa Romeo will be joining the Sauber F1 Team on a multi-year basis taking over branding and naming rights on the car. When asked if a sponsorship deal like that could be given to Haas F1 Marchionne responded with a “yes.”
Haas F1 is currently fully funded by team owner Gene Haas. During the 2017 season, Haas said the team would be looking for sponsors heading into the 2018 season undoubtedly to help offset the costs. A Maserati branding deal could help to offset the costs of the team’s Ferrari engine deal.
Should the Maserati/Haas partnership come to fruition it will be the first time in 60 years that Maserati will be back in the sport. The last time to Modena-based company raced in the Formula One World Championship Juan Manuel Fangio was in the famed 250F. The brand lasted into the 60’s as an engine supplier but never as a factory outfit.
Maserati recently underwent a sales boom. Not even a decade ago the company was producing less than 10,000 cars a year. Last year the company sold over 42,000 cars thanks to a new entry-level model and the introduction of a high-end SUV. With growing sales, the sponsorship of an F1 team is a huge marketing ploy and one that will give the brand, even more, exposure than just a Super Bowl commercial.
There Is An Ulterior Motive Here
Sergio Marchionne isn’t funding a third of the field because he’s a nice guy. It’s great exposure for the FCA brand but he has an ulterior motive. Liberty Media has indicated they will not favor Ferrari the way Bernie Ecclestone did. Marchionne has threatened to quit the sport, however now he appears to be playing the political F1 game and will go head to head with Liberty.
If Maserati branding is on the Haas car that sets up a three-team blockade under the FCA banner. With nearly a third of the field under FCA voting control, Marchionne and Ferrari can control the direction of the sport. This is being done to combat the proposed engine changes Liberty Media has proposed.
This sets up an interesting situation. Mercedes and Renault also control a third of the voters of as well. With Honda being the lone standalone. Formula politics are here to stay and Ferrari is about to get stronger. Their threats to quit were never serious, they’re battening down the hatches and preparing for a fight.
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