F1 sponsors expect returns from Shanghai stop

Updated: 2011-04-06 16:19

By Matt Hodges (

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So what if people aren't queuing up to watch the typically rain-soaked Chinese Grand Prix anymore, or if the closest thing to a Chinese Formula One star is a German who goes by the name of Michael Schumacher?

The sport is still considered a huge money-spinner by sponsors like UBS, Allianz and Hublot, as they burrow deeper into the Chinese market with their respective messages of wiser wealth management, better road safety and the importance for China's nouveau riche of owning an expensive Swiss wristwatch.

"We started our activities in the Chinese market with Formula 1," says Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of the LVMH-owned Swiss watchmaker. The sexagenarian apparently does not foresee any end to the company's growth in status-conscious China during his lifetime, or for the next 60 years.

"We really believe that most of our potential customers are interested in Formula One, and we are convinced that F1 is the best way to meet with them and communicate our brand," he says, adding that "the Chinese customer is more brand sensitive than most".

Biver personally launched a new F1 watch at last year's Chinese Grand Prix, which has been hosted in Shanghai since 2004. On its debut, attendance over the course of three days stood at 270,000 people. Then the numbers fell off to settle at 120,000 in 2009.

To read more, please get a copy of China Daily European Weekly due to be published on April 8, or visit on the same day.


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