Lately, when we’ve read about Formula One in the pink pages it’s all been rather depressing: Top teams refuse budget caps, several teams fail to pay their suppliers or drivers, or allegations of corruption currently being discussed in a Munich court.
And this week we travel to Monaco, scene of conspicuous spending. Not that I don’t love it for a week, it’s just I feel the need to shower thoroughly afterwards.
So praise be for a good news money story. For a few years now, F1’s fitness fanatics, and many others who were guilt-wrestled into risking heart attacks have been meeting on Saturday evenings on race weekends and running the track. A website, http://www.runthattrack.info, was set-up in 2010 by one of the guys at McLaren Electronics and once a competition element was introduced F1’s nature took over and everyone was doing it. When UBS became a sponsor of the sport, they put their name to it by giving money to a charity nominated by the paddock for every lap run.
Björn Wäspe is UBS’s Global Head of Sponsorships, and says it was the community element which attracted the Swiss financial services company to this initiative. “Understanding is a key word in banking, and we wanted to get close to the people that really make this circus happen. The fact that we supported something that was grassroots meant that the community saw that we share their values.”
With $100 a lap for a very noble cause – the Make-A-Wish Foundation which grants magical experiences to children with life-threatening conditions – few can refuse putting on their sneakers, although F1-SD has got very good at finding shortcuts at the world’s grand prix circuits. Running the track is close to reaching the $1 million mark in donations, which is pretty incredible given this has been a relatively low-profile F1 personnel-only weekend fundraiser. It’s expected to hit seven figures by Silverstone or Austria.
It’s a great example of F1 teams coming together, not against each other. “One of the Marussia mechanics came to me and said ‘This is brilliant, because firstly I’m getting a bit of a workout, and secondly I am not earning loads of money and you make it possible for me to contribute quite a large donation every week’,” re-tells Wäspe.