Sunday, July 21, 2024

F1 Rumour: Rolex to lose major sports sponsorship amid Wimbledon fervour as $150m push introduces new rival

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Have you ever noticed when the camera zooms in on a giant Rolex watch at every F1 race? Well, the days when Rolex enjoyed its place as the global partner and official watch of Formula 1 could soon be over. The Swiss brand, with net sales of more than $10 billion last year, has reportedly lost the bid to sponsor F1 in the upcoming seasons. The watch company will therefore have to abandon its 11-year loyalty to the premier class of motorsports. Rumour has it that a new watch industry magnate will be taking Rolex’s place: LVMH.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is the product of a grand merger between fashion house Louis Vuitton and alcohol brand Moët Hennessy. The Parisian conglomerate is home to Tag Heuer and Hublot, both of which are direct market competitors to Rolex. Indeed, Tag Heuer already has a footprint in Formula 1, having been the official timekeeper and partner of Red Bull since 2016. While the company’s contract with the World Championship-winning team is set to end in 2024, it seems that Tag Heuer’s parent company is now interested in getting a bigger slice of F1 than just one team.

According to reports circulating on social media, LVMH has struck a formidable deal to influence F1 authorities. The French group is willing to offer $150 million annually to become the official timekeeper of Formula 1 from 2025. Meanwhile, Rolex has to leave the top of motorsport at a time when it is busy delaying the Wimbledon Games part of another major deal. The Swiss brand is also an Official Sponsor of the prestigious tennis tournament currently being held, as their partnership dates back more than 40 years.

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While speculation has been rife that Rolex is leaving Formula 1, no official confirmation has come so far. Moreover, the Swiss brand has not given any reason for breaking its ties with the franchise at a time when F1’s popularity has reached every corner of the world. So, what could have prompted the watchmaker to abandon its deal and move to LVMH?

Carbon footprint could be one of the main reasons for Rolex’s exit from F1

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With the recent surge in popularity of Formula 1, its calendar has grown to include 24 Grands Prix in the current season. Therefore, the entire team has to travel to two dozen different locations around the world with the expensive race cars, technicians and all that. All of this has considerably increased F1’s carbon footprint. According to a report released by the motorsports franchise, it has a carbon footprint of 223,031 tCO2e per season. Meanwhile, Rolex promotes pollution reduction through its Perpetual Planet initiative.

via Getty

Thus, the conflict between Rolex’s policies and Formula 1’s growing carbon footprint could have caused the brand to abandon the partnership. On the other hand, finances could have played a very important role in deciding who will be the official watchmaker of F1 from next season onwards. While Rolex has a record annual sales of 10 billion dollars, it is nowhere near the net sales of LVMH ($93 billion). This may be another factor that led F1 to choose a new timekeeper when parting ways with Rolex.

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Sponsors coming and going in F1 is not a new phenomenon. Previously, one of the Formula 1 teams, Mercedes, reportedly lost Puma and Tommy Hilfiger as soon as Lewis Hamilton announced his move to Ferrari in 2025. As one of the most expensive sporting franchises, deals in F1 are worth millions and billions, and business therefore always takes priority over long-term relationships.

Do you think this is the reason why Rolex left despite its 11-year loyalty to F1? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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