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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Red Bull lands another US sponsor to deal with Hard Rock

Miami Gardens, Fla. ( Associated Press) — Red Bull secured victory ahead of the Miami Grand Prix weekend by fielding another billion-dollar American company as a sponsor — a boon as teams scour the fertile American commercial market that is vital to Formula One. One has gone crazy.

Hard Rock International, which is headquartered in Davie about 10 miles from Hard Rock Stadium, announced a multi-year sponsorship deal with Red Bull on Thursday, as drivers arrived at the venue. The Miami Dolphins are hosting 85,000 people a day from Friday to Sunday, when F1 begins in Miami and will race around the stadium in the first of two events in the US on this year’s calendar.

Red Bull has taken advantage of opportunities in the US and has now signed two major US brands since Max Verstappen won the world championship in December. Red Bull signed a $500 million title sponsorship deal with Oracle in February, Texas-based technology giant. It is considered one of the most lucrative business deals in sports.

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal, said only “adequate” when asked by the Associated Press about the value of the deal with Hard Rock. The agreement makes Hard Rock an official team partner, and includes Hard Rock’s hotels, restaurants and casino resorts.

Keith Sheldon, Hard Rock International’s president of entertainment, envisions his properties to be Red Bull viewing parties during each F1 weekend. Ultimately, the brand wants to create on-track experiences and events at properties in the respective F1 markets.

Horner acknowledged the expansion of the US market, which has exploded amid the popularity of the Netflix documentary “Drive to Survive.” The series, now in its fourth season, has been renewed for two more seasons.

F1 did not race in the US for four years after it withdrew from Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007; The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas brought the series back in 2012 and Miami marks two races previously unheard of in America.

Next year it will be three: in March F1 announced a 2023 night race down the Las Vegas Strip.

“Formula One is going through a tremendous period and has suddenly become available to a new demographic,” Horner said in an interview with the Associated Press Red Bull Hospitality Paddock. “I think things like ‘Drive to Survive’ have generated a huge amount of interest in the US, and every run is box office (sold out). The product is strong.”

He called the pairing with Hard Rock “the most logical partnership ever”, as Red Bull shares many brand characteristics with the entertainment brand. Sheldon agreed.

“That energy that creates Red Bull is something we want to associate with our brand, and it doesn’t hurt that they are winning a ton of races and reaching a younger demographic,” he said.

Sheldon acknowledged that “DTS” helped sell the sponsorship package at Hard Rock.

“There are a lot of people who weren’t familiar with F1 and all the great things were happening just five years ago,” Sheldon said. “That series really enhanced and confirmed what F1 is all about, especially for local audiences in North America. We see this as an important bullet point in this deal.”

Verstappen and Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez are second and third in the standings, and Verstappen has won two of the four races that took place on Sunday. The Hard Rock deal gave Red Bull an edge in showing how the team was taking advantage of their newfound popularity in corporate America.

“I think partners are looking at what we have to offer, and it’s not just a sticker on a car,” Horner said. “It’s about what happens behind the scenes. It’s all the activism for all your stunts, all the hype that we’ll be doing. It’s mind-bending what can be dreamed of.”

Horner noted Red Bull is hosting Jack Crawford, a 17-year-old Texan and part of the Red Bull junior team. Crawford races in Formula 3 races and most recently had a double-podium outing at Imola but is the team’s official guest in Miami.

Horner said Crawford is considered a Red Bull investment because almost all teams are looking for American talent. But Red Bull will not promote an American only to capitalize on the market.

“Just being an American driver is not enough,” Horner said. “It’s to be a winning driver. It’s to be a driver who is leading. When you look at the influence of Max Verstappen in Holland or Fernando Alonso in Spain, you have someone with the ability to win, to be in a winning car needed.

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More Associated Press Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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