The History of Brands in Formula 1


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The Influence of Brands of Formula 1

Formula 1 is a sport that has captivated audiences around the world for over 70 years. It’s known for its fast cars, talented drivers, and cutting-edge technology. However, what many people don't realize is that Formula 1 is also a sport that is heavily influenced by brands.

Brands play a significant role in Formula 1, with teams often relying on sponsorships and partnerships to fund their operations and enhance their performance. These brand collaborations not only provide financial support but also contribute to the sport's overall prestige and global appeal. In this blog, Hollywood Branded will take you on race to take a look at the history of brands in Formula 1, from its early beginnings to the present day.


The History of Formula 1 Brands

The origins of Formula 1 date back to the 1920s and 30s when a number of Grand Prix races were held across Europe. These races were often dominated by national teams representing their respective countries, and the cars were typically sponsored by local businesses. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that the concept of a world championship for drivers was established, and with it came the rise of international brands in Formula 1.

As the popularity of Formula 1 grew, so did the interest from global brands seeking to associate their names with the sport's excitement and glamour. With increased investment from multinational corporations, teams were able to develop technologically advanced cars and attract world-class drivers, solidifying the interplay between brands and Formula 1 as an integral part of its evolution.


Shell, as an oil company, recognized the immense value in sponsoring Formula 1 teams due to the sport's heavy reliance on high-performance fuel and lubricants. By partnering with top teams and drivers, Shell had the opportunity to showcase the performance and reliability of its products under the most demanding racing conditions. The association with legendary drivers like Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, and Mike Hawthorn further enhanced Shell's brand image, establishing it as a trusted and respected name in the world of motorsports.

Shell's sponsorship in Formula 1 not only provided visibility for its brand but also served as a platform for research and development. The demanding nature of the sport allowed Shell to test and refine their fuels and lubricants, pushing the boundaries of performance and efficiency, which ultimately benefited their consumer products as well. This symbiotic relationship between Shell and Formula 1 not only solidified their position as a dominant force in the sport but also fueled advancements in automotive technology that extended beyond the racing track.

Honda’s Shell-sponsored RA272 from 1965.

Shell Formula 1Photo Credit: Scuderia


Goodyear's decision to sponsor Formula 1 teams stemmed from their desire to showcase the superior performance and technological innovation of their tires. By partnering with top teams and supplying them with high-quality racing tires, Goodyear aimed to demonstrate their ability to deliver exceptional grip, handling, and durability on the demanding race tracks. The success of their tires in the hands of renowned drivers like Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, and Emerson Fittipaldi further solidified Goodyear's reputation as a trusted and preferred tire brand in both racing and consumer markets.

The brand's dominance in Formula 1 also fueled continuous research and development, enabling them to constantly refine their tire technology and transfer those advancements to their commercial tire offerings, benefiting everyday drivers around the world.

Jackie Stewart’s Goodyear-sponsored car.


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Marlboro's entry into Formula 1 in the 1970s marked a significant milestone in the sport's history, as it represented the growing influence of tobacco brands in motorsports. Marlboro's sponsorship of the McLaren team not only provided financial support but also allowed them to promote their products to a global audience. The striking red and white livery adorned with the Marlboro logo became synonymous with speed and success, capturing the attention of fans worldwide. The partnership with McLaren enabled Marlboro to associate its brand with legendary drivers such as James Hunt, Niki Lauda, and Alain Prost, further enhancing their image and solidifying their position as a major player in Formula 1 sponsorship. Despite eventual restrictions on tobacco advertising, the legacy of Marlboro's iconic presence in Formula 1 during the 1970s and 80s remains a significant chapter in the sport's branding history.

James Hunt’s Marlboro-sponsored car

jameshunt marlboro

Photo Credit:

The collaboration between Marlboro and the McLaren team went beyond mere branding, as it also fostered technological advancements. The partnership allowed Marlboro to work closely with McLaren engineers, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and expertise in areas such as aerodynamics, engine performance, and overall car design, pushing the boundaries of innovation in Formula 1. This synergy between a tobacco brand and a racing team not only propelled McLaren to great success but also showcased the intricate relationship between sponsors and teams in driving progress and shaping the future of the sport.

Hunt had a habit of requesting cigarettes from journalists while positioned on the winners podium, or making sure to have a final smoke before the race.


Photo Credit:


Martini's foray into Formula 1 during the 1970s marked a significant partnership that blended the worlds of motorsports and Italian elegance. As the sponsor of the Brabham team, Martini aimed to leverage the sport's global reach to promote its vermouth brand. The instantly recognizable blue and red livery adorned with the Martini logo not only caught the eye of fans but also encapsulated the sophistication and style associated with the Italian company. 

Martini Formula 1 Car

Photo Credit:

The collaboration with Brabham allowed Martini to align its brand with legendary drivers like Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet, and Carlos Reutemann, providing a prestigious platform to showcase their commitment to excellence and refinement. The Martini-sponsored cars became an embodiment of speed, class, and success, creating a lasting visual legacy in the annals of Formula 1 history.

Martini Formula 1 Car

Photo Credit:


The 1990s and 2000s witnessed the emergence of several influential brands in Formula 1, with Red Bull being one of the most prominent. Red Bull made its entry into the sport in 2005, leaving an indelible mark on the racing scene. The team's eye-catching blue and red livery, adorned with the iconic Red Bull logo, swiftly gained widespread recognition, establishing itself as an emblem of excitement and success. The partnership between Red Bull and Formula 1 gave rise to a powerhouse alliance, as the brand's logo graced the cars driven by esteemed champions such as Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, solidifying Red Bull's position as a force to be reckoned with in the world of motorsports.

For its initial two Monaco Grands Prix, the company joined forces with prominent movies, showcasing Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith in 2005 and Superman Returns the following year.

Starwars Redbull Car

Superman Redbull Car

Photo Credit:

During Red Bull's debut Monaco GP, both David Coulthard and Tonio Liuzzi encountered car issues and had to retire, which happened to be the Star Wars-themed cars. However, the Superman livery aligned with a memorable triumph.

Philip Morris

Another significant brand to make its mark in Formula 1 during the 1990s was Philip Morris International, the parent company of Marlboro. In 1997, Philip Morris International initiated its sponsorship of the prestigious Ferrari team, igniting a partnership that would leave an indelible impact on the sport. The instantly recognizable red and white livery, infused with the essence of Marlboro, became synonymous with Ferrari's racing excellence and passion. The iconic Marlboro logo adorned the cars driven by legendary figures such as Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, further solidifying the brand's association with Formula 1's elite and creating an enduring visual legacy in the annals of motorsport history.

The collaboration between Philip Morris International and Ferrari showcased the profound influence of brands in shaping the sport's aesthetic and capturing the hearts of fans worldwide.

Philip Morris Formula 1 CarPhoto Credit: Ferrari Mission Winnow livery, Suzuka, 2018

"We Race As One"

In recent years, there has been a push towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly brands in Formula 1. In 2019, Formula 1 launched its "We Race As One" initiative, which aims to promote diversity, sustainability, and inclusivity in the sport. As part of this initiative, Formula 1 has partnered with a number of environmentally friendly brands, including Heineken, DHL, and UPS.

Formula One teams and drivers proudly display the iconic rainbow-colored logos and messages of support for various social causes, making a powerful statement that goes beyond the pursuit of speed and victory. Through this initiative, Formula One demonstrates its dedication to driving positive change and using its global platform to create a better and more inclusive future for all.

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Eager To Learn More?

From the early days of national teams and local sponsors to the global behemoths of today, brands have played a significant role in Formula 1. Keep an eye out as the sport shifts towards more environmentally brands in the future. Want to learn more about F1 and Sports Sponsorships? We can help with that! Check out some of the below blogs that discuss similar topics. 

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