Formula One has unveiled a new logo, the first step of a complete brand redesign, as owners Liberty Media seek to develop a broader fan base for the motor-racing championship.
The new logo was unveiled during the podium ceremony of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday (Sunday). It replaces a widely-recognised logo that has been in place for three decades, with Formula One stating the complete brand redesign will be the series’ first for 23 years.
Heading the sport’s redesign and brand overhaul is Ellie Norman, who joined from Virgin Media in August. As Formula One’s first director of marketing, Norman said the intent is for the brand to evoke an entirely different spirit, with the new look said to have been strongly inspired by feedback from thousands of fans across the world.
Norman said in a statement: “When we talked to fans about what made Formula One amazing, what we heard was people loved the real, exhilarating, unpredictable and incomprehensibly fast elements of the sport. It was about racing. But many felt those days were behind us and that the sport has become almost impenetrable for fans, particularly new ones.
“It was clear we were going to need to address some fundamentals of our brand, if we were to realise our ambition to make Formula One a major entertainment player and claim our rights to be the global media brand we should be. What we say and do now is so important for our future, but it must always be driven by our fans. They come first.”
The rebranding initiative is part of a number of changes made since Liberty Media completed its takeover of F1 at the beginning of the year. The visual identity was created by Wieden+Kennedy London, led by Richard Turley, executive creative director of content and design.
However, it has led to strong criticism amongst fans on social media, while the drivers on the podium yesterday were less than enthusiastic. Four times world champion Lewis Hamilton said: “I think the one we already had was an iconic logo. Just imagine Ferrari changing their logo, or Mercedes... but maybe it will grow on us.” Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel added: “I liked the old one better.”
Norman told the Reuters news agency: “I think over time it will be received positively. Having shared it with the teams in Abu Dhabi on Thursday and with our sponsors and partners on Wednesday, the feedback... has been incredibly positive.”
Formula One has also outlined a ‘mission statement’ consisting of five ‘key behaviours’ in the form of ‘Revel in the racing’, ‘Make the spectacle more spectacular’, ‘Break down borders’, ‘Taste the oil’ and ‘Feel the blood boil’.
Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, said in a statement: “Our new brand identity symbolises the wider transformation taking place in Formula One as we aim to broaden the sport’s appeal, attract new audiences and build stronger connections with existing fans. We set out to create a logo that captures the speed and excitement of the pinnacle of motorsport and this reveal signals the beginning of a new era for Formula One.”
In other news from the weekend, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has said Liberty Media has offered teams cash advances to soften the impact of reduced revenues caused by its increased investment in the sport.
Liberty has been investing in infrastructure and the sport’s marketing operation since completing its January takeover. In its third quarter results published earlier this month, Liberty said payments to the 10 teams would amount to $273m (€235.6m), $43m less than in the same period of 2016. Liberty said this was the result of race and commercial revenue being down due to one fewer event being held in the third quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
According to Reuters, Horner said Liberty had made “a very generous offer, to those teams that want to take it”. He said that Liberty would “effectively advance monies to ensure that the money next year available to the teams is the same as this year... on an interest-free basis.” He added: “They’ve offered to basically fund that bridge for those teams that wish to take it.”