MAY 26, 2002
Money in Monaco
IT may just be because people like to come to the Monaco Grand Prix - one of the world's most famous sporting events - but the boats on the harbor in Monaco this year featured a large number of big players from huge global companies, looking at the sport and trying to assess whether to become involved in the sport.
According to our spies, there were major players from a number of big US companies in the harbor over the weekend with the names of Citibank, Johnson & Johnson and WalMart all being bandied around by marketing types in the paddock. Certainly there is more interest than in F1 from America than there has been since the days when Mario Andretti was a frontrunning F1 driver in the late 1970s.
The fact that there is a big effort going on to find an American driver for Formula 1 indicates just how important F1 sees the United States to be in the years ahead.
There has been much negative talk of F1 in recent weeks but the fact remains that there is plenty of money for teams which are doing a good job and in marketing circles at the front end of the grid there are no worries at all about income.
"There are plenty of big players out there," one marketing director told us at Monaco. "If you do a good job there will be money available."
Monaco is always a place where the big deals are agreed and the whisper in Monaco on Saturday was that Renault Sport has just concluded a big new deal with Japan Tobacco's Mild Seven brand. The team is obviously to keep its Renault yellow color scheme and this means that it is looking at companies which use yellow in their corporate color schemes. This does not fit in well with rumors that Renault would do a deal with Orange.
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