Australian GP hit by sponsor withdrawals

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Several major F1 sponsors have cut their spending on the opening round of the season in Australia, facing its promoters with the prospect of losing significant amounts of money.

According to the Herald Sun BMW has axed its ??450,000 (??507,000) corporate hospitality budget for the race, joining Foster’s in cutting its spending on the race.

Race title sponsors ING has already announced it is ending its Formula 1 sponsorship at the end of 2009.

Autosport’s Dieter Rencken (subscription required) adds that moving the Grand Prix to a later start time of 5pm to suit European television audiences better has had several negative effects:

Pitched midway between Paddock Club and top line grandstand prices, a raft of corporate suites mainly situated on the runs to and from Turn 1 provide Australia’s high-rollers with civilised race experiences. Fine food and wines are served in air-conditioned comfort but in a more relaxed atmosphere than found in the stifling Paddock Club has in the past 10,000 to 15,000 booted and suited punters.

Being captains of industry they have generally accepted invitations on the basis of being able to head for Sydney, Perth, Adelaide or Brisbane by air on Sunday evening and be in their office with the kangaroos on Monday morning. No more is that possible…

Australia is not the only F1 venue facing a falling demand from spectators. Tickets sales for the Malaysian Grand Prix are 20% down on the same time last year.

Singapore has sold 60% of its 4,000 Paddock Club places since they went on sale on February 6th. Paddock Club tickets for its inaugural race last year went on sale on November 28th 2007, and 3,000 had been sold by January 2008.

Read more: 2009 Australian Grand Prix