Visa Cash App RB: When do title naming deals begin to trample on F1 history?

Sam Cooper
The Stake F1 and Visa Cash App RB brand

Sauber and AlphaTauri will both have new names in 2024.

Even if you were being generous, you would be hard pressed to find a reason why Visa Cash App RB is a good name for an F1 team.

The motivation behind such a move is obvious and Red Bull are in a unique spot of having a second outfit to experiment with while the main brand stays relatively consistent but the name has left a bitter taste in the mouths of some fans and is a big step away from Minardi who once operated out of that Faenza factory.

And even once the team was purchased by Red Bull in 2005 there was at least some desire to have a name that made sense. Toro Rosso was Italian for Red Bull and even AlphaTauri was named after a star in the Taurus (bull) constellation.

But Visa Cash App RB has none of that heritage.

Red Bull are not alone in this of course. Sauber has gone from one of the sport’s first competitors in Alfa Romeo to a crypto gambling brand that is banned in some countries in which the sport races in and bank cards have also been in F1 with the ill-fated MasterCard Lola team.

This is not to blame Red Bull. After all, F1 is an expensive sport and teams rely on sponsorship money to survive, but it is to say there is a fine line to strike.

A look at the FIA entry list for 2024 shows all but three teams have title sponsors and those three happen to be the oldest on the grid but in the cases of, say, Mercedes and even Red Bull, the sponsor has been worked into the name rather than outright replacing it.

As Toto Wolff often forgets, the full name of the Silver Arrows is Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team. Red Bull are Oracle Red Bull Racing. While Aston Martin up until last year had two title sponsors in Aramco and Cognizant.

It is not just the teams either. The first race of the season will be the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix and just two circuits, Canada and Monaco, currently have no title sponsor.

Money is intrinsically linked to the history of F1 but the sport already gets more of a pass than any other. Take football for example. If you suggested that Manchester United would be rebranded as Visa Cash App MUFC, you would have angry fans outside Old Trafford within the hour.

F1 also races in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and a number of venues where human rights are questionable and there is minimal backlash. recommends

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But how far can you go before the sport no longer resembles what it was before? Traditionally, a team was named after its founder and that is the case of just four constructors on the 2024 grid.

Car brands are also a common naming principle, see Mercedes, Alpine, etc, and no-one would take issue with that but it is when the racing juggernaut like Visa start getting involved that it feels a little insulting to the fans.

Whether they grew up watching or are new to the sport, the people who pay several hundreds of pounds or dollars for a TV subscription or to attend the race live are not doing so because they want to see their favourite financial service beat another. F1 is happy to draw on its history when it comes to promoting the product but is also equally happy to walk all over that history should it earn them some more zeros on the cheque.

But when does it end? Will F1 one day be a title race between Amazon and Tesla? Will Max Verstappen Jr sign a deal at Google Racing? Will the F1 championship be rebranded as the Apple 1 championship? These may be extreme examples but Formula 1 is walking a fine line between taking the money and trampling over its own history.

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