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The global economy may finally be taking a turn for the better. Last year four car manufacturers cut their involvement with Formula One and 53 sponsors pulled out to cut costs as the economy collapsed around them. However, since the 2010 season got underway there has been a stream of new deals and, according to a report in today's Independent by Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt, they have brought a total of £12.5m in sponsorship to the sport.
This weekend is the first of a two race deal between Burger King Spain and Sauber and although the money involved is small fry (pardon the pun), it is symbolic of a trend.
Earlier in the season British software company Autonomy signed a deal, worth £5.4m according to F1's industry monitor Formula Money, with Mercedes GP. Lotus also gained a similar sum from another new sponsor, the Malaysian telecoms firm Maxis. However, even taking the increase during the season into account, F1 is still on the back foot since the teams' total sponsorship stands at £488.9m - £65.5m less than in 2009. This is the biggest fall in the past five years and remarkably it comes despite the number of teams in the sport rising from 10 to 12 this year.
Overall, average sponsorship revenues per team have plunged by 26.6% to £40.8m. The drop was driven by the departure of several of the biggest-spending sponsors including ING and Panasonic who together paid £84.5m annually.
F1 attracted few new sponsors before the season began. However, one sector which has thrown its weight behind the sport is foreign exchange with two brokers joining as sponsors. Polish company X-Trade Brokers came on board McLaren, in a deal believed to be worth £3.4m, whilst Red Bull Racing gained £1.4m of new sponsorship from FXDD. Two other brokers, FxPro and the Swiss regulated MIG Investments, were already F1 sponsors so the new additions indicate that they have benefited from their F1 involvement.
Some existing sponsors have increased their spend, most notably Petronas and Santander which are contributing £37.2m and £33.8m to Mercedes and Ferrari respectively this season. This propelled Ferrari's sponsorship haul to £165.6m which represents a third of total F1 team sponsorship revenues. Remarkably Ferrari receives a massive 445 times more sponsorship than back-marker HRT. So although there are new sponsors coming into the sport, it will take a long time to narrow the gulf between the front and back of the grid.
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