CNBC Documentary 'Inside Track: The Business of Formula1


Photo provided by CNBC

Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport, has a fan base that spans the globe, and its races are known for high-speed drama and excitement. But what goes on behind the scenes of this high-octane sport is equally intriguing. CNBC's documentary, "Inside Track: The Business of Formula 1," takes viewers on a journey through the corporate side of Formula 1, offering a rare glimpse into the multi-billion-dollar industry that fuels the sport. In this blog, we'll explore the key takeaways from the documentary and delve into the intricate business dynamics that make Formula 1 a unique spectacle. 

CNBC anchor and documentary host Sara Eisen said the program is a true passion project for me. I was initially drawn to F1 because my two young children love the sport, but once we started watching the races together, I realized there was something undeniably fascinating from a business perspective that demanded a full exploration of the sport as it reached new heights in America. F1 stands firmly at the intersection of sports, technology, and culture.


The Documentary is an In-Depth Look at F1


Inside Track: The Business of Formula 1 is set to premiere on CNBC on November 16, just before the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023, taking place from November 16-18. The Las Vegas race marks the third stop of the Formula 1 season in the United States, reflecting the sport's growing popularity in North America, partly inspired by Netflix's hit docudrama series. While Netflix's "Drive To Survive" series primarily concentrates on the intense competition and drama within Formula 1, the one-hour documentary on CNBC will delve into the financial aspects, revenue streams, and the series' expansion, as well as the pivotal role played by sponsors.


Hosted by Eisen, the documentary will closely examine key metrics such as attendance, viewership, and market value, with a specific focus on the upcoming Las Vegas race, which is being actively promoted by Formula 1. Eisen reports from four different Formula 1 venue and had the opportunity to engage in conversations with Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, who discusses the significant growth of the series since Liberty took over the commercial rights in 2017. Eisen also had in-depth interviews with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, team leaders from prominent outfits like Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, and Haas, and drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen, and Nico Hulkenberg. These interviews explore various aspects, including technical engineering, revenue-sharing agreements, and the impact of Red Bull's recent dominance on competition and viewership.


The documentary also offers insights into the fan experience, particularly with a focus on the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which is expected to be one of the most expensive events for spectators in this year's Formula 1 calendar. Additionally, Eisen had an interview with Susie Wolff, the F1 Academy managing director, where they discussed the involvement of female drivers in the sport.


The Power Players


Formula 1 is a sport that marries cutting-edge technology with a deep passion for racing. The documentary introduces us to the key power players in this industry. From team owners and drivers to sponsors and race organizers, the world of Formula 1 is a tightly-knit web of relationships. The documentary reveals the influence these individuals and organizations wield in shaping the sport's future. Formula 1 is not just about the thrill of the race; it's also about the business of winning. Teams invest massive amounts of money to build and maintain their cars, and sponsors pour in even larger sums to have their logos on the cars and at the racetracks. The documentary highlights the high-stakes nature of this game and the relentless pursuit of victory that drives the teams and their backers.


Formula 1 is not just a European sport; it's a global phenomenon, with the Las Vegas Prix set to be the biggest world event of the year. The documentary explores how Formula 1 has expanded its reach to every corner of the world, with races held in countries as diverse as the United States, Bahrain, and Singapore. The business of Formula 1 is not limited to the track; it involves securing lucrative broadcasting deals and expanding the sport's presence to attract fans from all over the globe. The documentary emphasizes the crucial role that marketing and sponsorships play in the business of Formula 1. Teams rely on major brands and corporations to fund their operations, while these sponsors, in turn, leverage the sport's global appeal to market their products and services. The symbiotic relationship between Formula 1 and its sponsors is a central theme, and the documentary provides a closer look at the deals and partnerships that drive the sport's financial engine.


Innovations and Technology


One of the most fascinating aspects of Formula 1 is its continuous push for innovation. The documentary showcases how technology plays a pivotal role in the sport. From aerodynamics and engine design to tire technology and data analytics, Formula 1 is a hotbed of innovation that often finds its way into mainstream automotive technology. Viewers get to see the groundbreaking developments that keep Formula 1 at the forefront of engineering and design.


Budget Caps and Future Challenges


While the world of Formula 1 may seem glamorous, with over $1 Billion in expected revenue from the Las Vegas Prix, it is not without its financial challenges. The documentary sheds light on the budget caps that have been introduced in recent years to level the playing field and curb excessive spending by the larger teams. It delves into the complexities of managing the finances of a Formula 1 team and the impact of these regulations on the sport's competitiveness. The documentary closes with a look at the future of Formula 1. It discusses the sport's plans for sustainability, including the shift towards hybrid and electric technology. Viewers gain insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Formula 1 as it seeks to balance the demands of high-speed racing with environmental responsibility.


Looking Ahead


Inside Track: The Business of Formula 1 offers a comprehensive view of the motorsport industry beyond the adrenaline-pumping races. It unveils the intricate web of business relationships, financial challenges, and technological innovations that drive Formula 1 forward. The documentary provides a deep appreciation for the sport's global appeal and its impact on both the automotive industry and popular culture. Formula 1, as showcased in this documentary, is not just a sport; it's a high-speed world of money and passion that continues to captivate fans and inspire innovation on a global scale.