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GP Week : Issue 151
Formula One hit the financial newspapers this week with the news that Peter Brabeck, the chairman of Nestle, would be named as chairman of the board following the Initial Public Offering believed to be taking place in Singapore in July. Brabeck is already on the board of F1 holding company Delta Topco, and through his years with Nestle has acquired vast experience in running and marketing multinational organisations. He started out as a salesman for Nestle in 1968, and worked his way up to the position of CEO, a role he held until 2008. Brabeck is now chairman of the Nestle Group. One of the Austrian CEO’s trademarks as a businessman is his ability to identify opportunities for expansion, both within target markets and outside the presumed core competencies of said business. In a 2007 profile, Time magazine wrote that “Brabeck pooh-poohs the notion that a company should focus tightly on its core competency. Nestle's big challenge, he says, ‘is that we have to be able to learn how to get operational efficiency with a relatively complex business structure. This is what I think real management is all about. The other thing is much too easy.’ Rather than narrow its focus, he believes that a well-managed and flexibly organized consumer-goods company can sell dog food and ice cream--as well as coffee, water and candy--and gain advantages in marketing, purchasing and distribution over more specialized firms.” Should the Nestle chairman apply that approach to the marketing of Formula One as a truly global brand, targeting the young consumer market with a range of age-appropriate memorabilia while not forgetting the existing adult fan with a sizeable disposable income, Brabeck could help to grow the F1 fanbase. While F1 has expanded as a global brand under Bernie Ecclestone’s stewardship, recent years have seen an increase in the average age of the F1 demographic. Opportunities to promote the sport to a younger generation – such as the vastly underused Roary the Racing Car – have slipped by unused. That, combined with a dramatic increase in the cost of a visit to a grand prix, and a number of recent scandals, has decreased Formula One’s sponsorship appeal as a family-friendly brand. Nestle has its own bad PR to overcome, and Brabeck himself has been issued with a Black Planet Award by Berline’s Foundation for Ethics and Economics, an award given to “individuals dedicated to the destruction of the planet” . So Brabeck and F1 may not be a match made in PR heaven. But if the businessman ensures that he stays in the background, and applies himself to generating additional profits while securing Formula One’s long- term fanbase, we might find Brabeck to be an appropriate successor to Bernie Ecclestone. PETER BRABECK NAMED AS POST-IPO CHAIR OF FORMULA ONE BRIEFLY » India already has an F1-spec race track and slot on the Formula One calendar, but the success of the race in Greater Noida has got other areas of the country questioning whether they should get in on the act. According to AP, Anil Kumar, tourism minister for the state of Kerala, the popular tourist destination is considering investing in a race circuit. And they are taking their advice from someone with a vested interest in Formula One – HRT racing driver Narain Karthikeyan ... “We are meeting [Karthikeyan] later in the day, and if he suggests that a racetrack in our state will boost tourism activities, we will definitely look into it,” Kumar said. “We are always positive in our outlook. We have no issues in considering new proposals, which will take Kerala tourism to greater heights. For this, we have to think out of the box. We will neither say no nor yes straightaway. All aspects will be looked into. Only then will we comment.” » According to Pirelli, 10 of Formula One’s 12 teams have elected to run their Young Driver Tests at Silverstone this summer, with only Red Bull and Toro Rosso choosing to run at Yas Marina later in the season. The teams were given the choice of running in the UK immediately after Silverstone, or completing their YDTs in Abu Dhabi after the grand prix in November, but not running a reduced number of days across the two sessions. Should weather conditions in Britain in July prove to be unfavourable, teams can elect to move their test to Abu Dhabi later in the year. But once a car has left the Silverstone pit lane to begin their summer test, they are considered to have selected the British test and will not be able to run in Abu Dhabi even if weather conditions make further running impossible. 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS