Formula 1 is eyeing a hybrid hospitality experience for its 2021 season after electing to extend its partnership with video communications company Zoom.

In July 2020, the motor-racing championship teamed up with Zoom to deliver its first-ever Virtual Paddock Club experience, as the era of COVID-19 meant that it couldn’t offer traditional hospitality. That deal was signed ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix and has now been expanded into a multi-year contract as F1’s 2021 season commences this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The new deal is set to result in multiple activations across the 2021 season, and beyond. As part of the partnership Zoom will deliver communications services and is working with Formula 1 to provide new business and hospitality opportunities through what is being described as unique live-sport experiences during and beyond the ongoing pandemic. 

The Virtual Paddock Club will continue this season and at 21 races guests will be able to join through Zoom to experience a range of bespoke virtual hospitality offerings, including live updates and insight from legends of the paddock.

In addition, and in compliance with respective local pandemic regulations, guests will also be able to join the Virtual Paddock Club onsite at select individual races or use Zoom Rooms set up in the Paddock Club Business Lounges to conduct other business.

Ben Pincus, director of commercial partnerships at Formula 1, said: “We’re delighted to expand our partnership with Zoom following our collaboration on the successful Virtual Paddock Club last year. Zoom will become the official unified communications platform of Formula 1, with its services expanding across the wider business. We are excited to continue our work with Zoom and to keep innovating together.”

Zoom will also help F1 achieve its sustainability goals moving forward, specifically contributing to the sport’s remote operations which will reduce its carbon emissions by using virtual meetings wherever possible.

Janine Pelosi, Zoom’s chief marketing officer, added: “While the 2020 season has shown that the Virtual Paddock Club offered an engaging VIP sports experience despite the limitations set by the global pandemic, this new season provides an opportunity for a seamless hybrid model including virtual and on-site activations where the situation allows – offering the best of both worlds for enterprises and their VIPs.

“We’re proud to partner with F1 and use our brand and technology to shape the future of sports events while also supporting organisations on their mission to become more sustainable.”

In January, Formula 1 moved to rework its 2021 calendar for pandemic-related reasons, with Bahrain installed as the new host of the season opener. The F1 season traditionally gets underway in Melbourne but Australia will now play host on November 21 amid ongoing COVID-19-related travel restrictions in the country.

Ahead of this weekend’s race, Formula 1 and Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) have announced that all energy used by the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix will come from sustainable energy sources, meeting the BIC’s needs throughout the race weekend, and beyond.

The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Sustainable Energy Authority has recently completed a feasibility study for the initiative, which, when fully developed, will eventually meet the circuit’s entire annual energy needs. This will be achieved with the aid of the development of an “expansive” solar farm project at the Circuit (pictured).

The initiative intends to support Bahrain’s commitment to increase renewable energy use in the Kingdom and Formula 1’s plan to have net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Phase One will go into construction this summer with completion expected early next year, well ahead of the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Officials said the first phase of the project will more than cover the energy requirements of the Formula 1 weekend, with excess to spare. Implementation of further project phases will ultimately see the BIC’s annual energy needs met entirely from sustainable sources.

Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit, said: “This commitment is an important part of our broader sustainability aims as a circuit and supports F1’s own target to be net carbon neutral by 2030. This initiative will not only make our F1 race a cleaner and greener event in the future, but will encourage other large-scale events to make the move to sustainable energy, and inspire sports fans to embrace change.”

Image: Formula 1