Drive to Survive Season 6: Mercedes, Ferrari and BWT lead the pack

The need-to-knows

  • Oracle Red Bull Racing’s dominance of the 2023 Formula One season created the need for a different, more dynamic narrative in Drive to Survive season six. 
  • Vying for second place (and the future of Lewis Hamilton), Mercedes and Ferrari take centre stage and generate the highest levels of visibility and value for their partners during the show, with Red Bull in third.
  • Surprisingly, Alpine title sponsor BWT is the best-performing brand, gaining both the most exposure and a higher level of expected media value (xMV) than any other team partner.
  • Our research provides projected xMV figures and shows just how important it is for rights holders and their partners to take satellite media, such as social activity and non-event programming, into account when considering sponsorship measurement.

Sports docs and sponsorship

Sports documentaries have become big business in recent years, and few sports have reaped the rewards quite like Formula One.

An early pioneer of the access-all-areas format, F1 has seen its fanbase grow and diversify significantly since Netflix’s hugely popular Drive to Survive series debuted in 2019. Still going strong five years later, and now into its sixth season, the show has become as much a part of the pre-season build-up as winter testing and car launches, but that’s not all.

Drive to Survive’s popularity means it’s become a crucial channel for sports sponsorship measurement, as well. As Oracle Red Bull Racing’s dominance in 2023 proved, F1 can sometimes be a procession, threatening the sport’s unpredictability, fan engagement and sponsorship value. 

Drive to Survive can explore the human stories beyond the on-track action and provide a much more balanced view of the season: for sponsors as well as fans. So, just as we did last season, datapowa’s crunched the numbers on the new season of Drive to Survive to uncover the sponsors’ stories. Our findings prove that it’s vital for rights owners and their partners to take a broader view of sponsorship measurement.

The visualisation shows our projected valuations for every team and every sponsor involved in the 2023 F1 season. Click the team segment to open the data relating to their sponsors, and hover over a segment to see our valuations.

Mercedes and Ferrari lead the pack

Red Bull may have dominated on the track, but when it comes to Drive to Survive valuations, the Austrian team is shunted down to third. In their place, Mercedes takes the chequered flag (£5,607,932 xMV across 18 partners), with Ferrari in second (£5,558,330 xMV, also across 18 partners)

The two teams’ fight for second place takes centre stage in the season’s final episode (‘Red or Black’) and episode six (‘Leap of Faith’) concentrates on the beginnings of Lewis Hamilton’s now-announced move to the Prancing Horse in 2025.  

Even with its diminished role in season six, Red Bull still performs admirably (£4,954,437 across 26 sponsors), while BWT Alpine punches well above its weight with £4,561,358 across its 19 partners.

BWT are A-OK for Alpine

BWT Alpine is the surprise package when we drill into specific partners. The French team finished the season in sixth position, with drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon in 11th and 12th respectively. It was never a contender for a place among the top three in the Constructors’ Championship and only twice secured podium positions. 

However, it was at the centre of plenty of paddock drama thanks to Gasly and Ocon’s long-running rivalry, the departures of key technical staff, and investment from Hollywood stars. As a result, it was the focus of two episodes, and its title sponsor (water treatment brand BWT), ranks as the most visible and valuable brand across the whole of season six. 

According to our figures, the BWT logo appeared on screen 5,024 times for a total of around 40 minutessignificantly more than big-hitting brands like Shell (2,678 times for around 28 minutes), Red Bull (3,373 times for 29 minutes) and Petronas (3,081 times, again for around 29 minutes). 

But exposure alone isn’t enough to generate media value. Clarity counts too, and with its bold blue font on candy-pink background, the BWT logo undoubtedly catches the eye, helping push it out ahead of other brands for value, as well.

DTS offers global sponsors further value

One major player we’ve excluded from our data so far is, arguably, the most important of all: the sport itself. We’ve not mentioned Formula One Management’s (FOM) partners because they tend to appear around the tracks, rather than on specific cars and team apparel, and so typically gain more exposure.

When we do take FOM into account, the most visible brand of all is Pirelli, which supplies tyres for all ten F1 teams; it gained just under 10,000 individual exposures, around 67 minutes of visibility, and an xMV of £1,660,964. In total, four FOM partners appear in the top twenty most visible brands (Saudi Aramco, DHL, and Rolex join Pirelli), and together its 27 partners generated £5,652,380 of value

As FOM looks to build upon the increased race weekend viewership that Drive to Survive has helped build, they should consider the value that the show itself generates as part of any future deals or renewals they strike. 

Get ahead of the pack and learn more about datapowa’s comprehensive approach to sports sponsorship valuation by emailing us at [email protected] 

Methodology: To arrive at our projected xMVs we use our object detection computer vision AI to identify when, where, and how sponsor logos are exposed within media content. We first identify the unadjusted 100% Media Value, using the estimated audience size, impressions, time on screen, and a benchmark equivalent cost to acquire that screen time. A ‘Prominence Score’ is then applied to this figure, allowing us to take the sponsor logo’s size, clarity and centrality into account and give a clear understanding of the impact the appearance would have made on the viewer. These metrics are combined to give guidance on the estimated value derived through exposure of the logos across the entire series six of Drive to Survive.