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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Marussia car launches with no primary sponsor

Given that Marussia are the only team not to provide me with Media Centre access they are also the only team from whom I'm not permitted to publish photographs of their car.

Not that it particularly worries me but it does make life a little more difficult when attempting to describe the new car.  I've seen it on other websites and it looks better than last years if that's any use to anyone.

It keeps the same colour scheme as last year but is mainly remarkable for its lack of any major sponsor.  What sponsorship is visible is worth little or nothing to the team and, given the fact that they have not been given access to any Concorde money this year we can be sure that, the only money available is coming from the drivers Max Chilton and possibly Luiz Razia.

Without sponsors the money factor will have to determine who gets the drive.  Can Razia bring more to the table than Bruno Senna? And will the contribution by two drivers be enough to keep the team running over the entire season?

Maz Chilton brings a reported £5 million sterling while Luis Razia's sponsorship is reported as $15 million or £9.5 million sterling.  A total income for the team of around £15 million sterling.

They are reported to be paying McLaren and Williams some £6 million a year for the McLaren Applied Technologies technical tie-in/Windtunnel use and the Williams KERS system, and their Cosworth engine deals are likely to be of the order of between £5 - £8 million per year, leaving the team with a total remainder of the order of only £1-4 million to go racing for the year.

The McLaren connection provides Marussia with: access to McLaren facilities, knowledge and capabilities, for example their test rigs and driver-in-the-loop simulator, supply-chain experience and computational fluid dynamics and computer-aided engineering techniques, including race-strategy tools. It also sees McLaren management and production staff embedded within the team, working in roles permitted by the Concorde Agreement. The team also use McLaren's wind tunnel.

At the time of the deal the Marussia Team CEO Andy Webb said, “We can benefit enormously from McLaren's far-reaching techniques and capabilities, and I have no doubt that this partnership will see us take the technical steps necessary to make a significant leap forward".

Quite where the team stand at this stage in monetary terms is unclear, though there is no question but that they had no option other than to get rid of Timo Glock in favour of bringing in someone with a wodge of cash.

It would seem unlikely that the team will score their first points this season, given the evolutionary designs making up the 2013 grid, so they'll have to hope for 10th in order to progress to a situation where they will be guaranteed income from the sport.

From the outside I have to say that the future looks ominous. Where are they going to get money in the coming year?  It is accepted that sponsorship brings in around 48% of a teams revenue (in this case those names following the two drivers) with prize money providing the majority of the remainder.  No prize money and less TV exposure means less income

High TV audiences allow teams to charge top dollar for sponsorship on the rear wing, the sidepods, and the engine cover.  These are the prime logo areas and a sponsorship deal for these areas on a top team is around £13 million.  Bottom of the sidepods or on the nose are around £3 million for a top team.

So what can Marussia command for these areas? Perhaps half price or less for the prime slots and a fraction of the price for the lesser locations?  QNet - the primary visible sponsor on the Marussia is on part of the rear wing (maybe £4 million tops) with three sponsors visible at the bottom of the sidepods (£2 million?) so we're looking at sponsorship of £6 million visible on the car to date.

Max Chilton is long associated with AON insurance so we can probably expect to see them on the car come Australia, but where they are on the car will be dependent upon who the second driver brings to the table in terms of resources for the team.