Tech consultancies flock to Formula 1 as global popularity grows

28 November 2023 4 min. read

Technology consulting firms have been flocking to the Formula 1 as sponsors as the global popularity of the premier racing series continues to grow, but also contribute to advancements behind the scenes.

The main race for the 2023 Formula One season may have been run and won some time ago, Max Verstappen having wrapped up his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship in Qatar with five rounds to spare.

But the minor podium placings in the Constructors’ battle were fought to the very end, along with bragging rights for the myriad of F1’s tech consulting sponsors, with Akkodis holding off a fast-finishing DXC Technology in Abu Dhabi to claim second place.

Tech consultancies flock to Formula 1 as global popularity grows

Further down the rankings, Deloitte secured fourth place ahead of Cognizant, while fans worldwide watched online through the F1 TV platform developed by Accenture. In addition to the on-track action, the 2023 season has been marked by the notable presence of tech consulting logos in the pit-lanes and on the cars and drivers’ jumpsuits.

And that’s alongside the numerous other big tech sponsors, including names such as Oracle, Microsoft, Siemens and Amazon Web Services.

It’s easy enough to understand the attraction for big tech companies to align themselves with what is considered the pinnacle of motorsports engineering, with a global TV audience of almost two billion tuning in across the lengthy season and a growing fan-base in the United States.

As Cognizant CMO Gaurav Chand told Forbes of its Aston Martin sponsorship; “We’re an $18 billion company and not a lot of folks across the globe knew about us or what we did.”

While Cognizant may be bowing out as title sponsor next year, other tech consultancies are still keen to join the fray. DXC Technology signed on with Ferrari in May, which already includes the software wing of HCLTech among its list of strategic partners, while Akkodis has been with Mercedes since the beginning of last year. Deloitte also extended its long-term relationship with McLaren this year to include a further collaboration on sustainability.

But beyond just eye-balls and exposure, these consultancies have also been supporting the teams with their tech development behind the scenes. Indeed, DXC Technology has been working with Scuderia Ferrari for a number of years as a supplier of its ICT infrastructures and human-machines interfaces, while Cognizant has been serving Aston Martin on car sensor data and real-time analytics.

Record-breaking Red Bull has previously credited Oracle for its current era of dominance.

In a sport where success is measured by milliseconds, HCL also notes the future of racing isn’t just on the track or data control centre, but extends to innovations in areas such as the assembly area and logistics, which can also feed back into the core business of some of the team’s factory owners and financiers. It can also work the other way; now the management consultancy’s primary AI design wing, QuantumBlack’s Formula1 pedigree was part of its original appeal to McKinsey.

Notably, on signing in-season with Scuderia Ferrari, DXC Technology stated: “We are committed to innovating technology that transforms the vehicle information capabilities and enhances the driving experience for all.”

“DXC Technology is working with Ferrari on unified and scalable digital automotive solutions modernising the vehicle information capabilities, and this will enable a long-term software strategy that can be deployed in Ferrari sports cars produced from 2024 onwards.”