AUGUST 4, 2005

The battle for Intel

The word in Formula 1 circles for some time has been that chip-maker Intel is keen to come into Formula 1 and is talking to a variety of teams about deals for the future. There were reports a few weeks ago that a deal had been struck with McLaren but there have also been reports that link the company with deals at both BAR-Honda and Williams. At the moment Intel has just a small deal with Toyota but this is believed to be a local arrangement between Intel's Japanese offshoot Intel KK and Toyota.

For those who do not follow the microprocessor industry, it is worth knowing that there is currently an all-out war going on between Intel and rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and this is, in part, a reason for the F1 sponsorship. AMD is with Ferrari but Intel now wants a bigger and better presence and so is talking to the biggest and best teams. AMD is currently suing Intel in various countries with accusations that it has illegally maintained a monopoly in the chip market with improper subsidies and threatened retaliation against firms if they used AMD products. Intel is rumoured to be increasing its marketing budgets in order to counter a stronger challenge to its markets from AMD with the latest generation of microprocessors. Intel is making plenty of money but it is still looking for new business opportunities and is tipped to be looking at opportunities in the automobile industry, in addition to general telephony.

At the same time, Intel has also been restructuring and there are new attitudes. The firm recently named Paul Otellini as its new chief executive. He is the first Intel CEO not to have been an engineer, his training being largely in sales and marketing. Other management changes have given the company a much more competitive edge in marketing.

Formula 1 may be benefiting from the Intel-AMD battle but at the moment it is still not sure which team will be landing the loot. One thing we expect to see is the deal going to a team with manufacturer links, if only because this is sure to open up possibilities for Intel to sell chips to the car firms.