After a scintillating start to the delayed 2020 Formula One season, many fans would have been keen to press CTRL+C and carry it forward to the following weekend. Held on the same circuit, the renamed Styrian GP provided the perfect opportunity to build off the excitement of the sister race held just seven days previous.
The beauty of having back-to-back races at the same circuit is that it eliminates the normal mad rush to pack up and prepare air freight for the next Grand Prix. The teams, the drivers (well, most of them anyway!), the officials, the media, and the staff had nowhere else to go, other than to enjoy the beautiful Austrian countryside during their daily exercise allowance.
With fans being treated to a brilliantly entertaining race, the circuit infrastructure all set-up and ready to go, and the teams well-adjusted to their new garage homes, surely that didn’t leave much for the F1 commercial team to do? Well, other than a complete shift in almost every sponsorship position around the circuit that is….
That’s right, the circuit may not have changed, but sponsorship contracts still need to be honoured and met. In the run-up to each Grand Prix the designated sponsorship positions around a circuit are decided based on what partnership tier each sponsor sits in, which sections of the track are prime for visibility, and what contract agreements are in place.
From the Austrian GP to the Styrian GP just a week later we noticed that in 12 of the 16 circuit areas that we analysed, there were branding changes from one race to the next. Everything from static boards to circuit branding, and grandstand covers to brake markers, nothing was left to chance.
One of the four positions unchanged was the Aramco branding in Turn 3 – one of, if not the most, action-packed corners on the circuit for overtaking and incidents. As a brand-new sponsor in the F1 Global Partner stable and, having waited four months to make its race debut, we wouldn’t be surprised if this was a ‘sweetener’ and strategic proposition.
At the opposite end of the scale, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the LIQUI MOLY branding. As an official sponsor rather than a global partner, the company won’t have visibility at every race, as shown by its non-appearance during the Austrian GP. During the Styrian GP the brand had a presence from Turns 8-9 and through Turn 10, although this branding was only truly visible during onboard footage, and not picked up easily by the world feed coverage.
The partner branding adjustments amount to a huge volume of work, and probably much of which was unnoticed by the casual fan, but subconsciously consumed throughout the 71-lap race. We’ve made a list of the changes that we observed, with some supporting screenshots in case you didn’t pick up on them yourself!