Honda were the first team to do it. At the beginning of the 2007, they proclaimed that they didn’t need any major sponsor and instead were going to be taking money from you, the fans. The idea was that if you donated some money to their charity – a green, environmental cause – then you could have your name on the car, probably in time for the British Grand Prix.
They’ve actually brought it forward to the French Grand Prix, and there are pictures starting to circulate the internet of the car. The names are written pretty small, so that you can only make them out when you are up close. From further away, the car looks just the same as it always has done.
Now, another team have picked up on the charitable initiative. Red Bull are starting to take donations for their charity – Wings For Life. The idea is that you donate some money and you can get your actual picture on the car, in a specific sized square. The more donations you give, the more squares you can have. Presumably you could buy several and take over half the car! You can choose between David Coulthard or Mark Webber’s car, and your picture will appear on the bodywork for the British Grand Prix.
The pictures of what the cars are potentially going to look like are not quite so flattering as the Honda idea. Donators actually get to choose where they want their picture to be, which means there are gaps appearing on the car and it looks… well, patchy, is probably the best way to describe it. Hopefully they will sell enough so that it’s not a problem by the time it gets to the race.
So, I donated money to appear on the Honda car, and I’ve also donated money to appear on Mark Webber’s car. I am a little bit concerned that I perhaps should have picked Coulthard’s car instead. Mark Webber has a habit of breaking down and retiring at some point during the race, whereas with Coulthard I have more of a chance of making it to the end. But it doesn’t really matter, it’s all for a good cause.
I think it’s a really great idea for teams to start setting up initiatives like this. Not only is it a brilliant way to help out very worthy charities, but it also gets the fans involved. This is something that happens all too rarely in Formula 1, so anything like this is a good thing.