Ferruccio Lamborghini founded his supercar company as a direct competitor to Ferrari. With the performance of Lamborghini cars and the company’s involvement in motorsports through their Squadra Corse division, it’s surprising that Lamborghini is not in F1 like Ferrari is. Why is Lamborghini not in F1?
Lamborghini does not compete in F1 because the financial costs are far too high compared to the potential benefit. They would be out-competed by rival Ferrari, which would be embarrassing. Lamborghini plays to their strengths by racing in endurance events instead.
Lamborghini runs cars in GT (Gran Turismo or Grand Touring) races worldwide via their Squadra Corse division, but they have almost no connection to Formula 1.
With the fame and prestige of F1 among motorsport fans across the globe, it is surprising that Lamborghini does not want to be involved. Let’s look at the reasons why they do not race in F1.
Lamborghini Does Not Take Part In F1 To Protect Their Brand
Lamborghini was founded to compete with Ferrari and offer specific improvements (Ferruccio Lamborghini disliked the clutches in the Ferrari cars he owned). However, the two brands have diverged in their brand image and target market over the years.
While Ferrari offers sleek, high-performance cars, they are still relatively affordable compared to Lamborghini vehicles.
As a result, Formula 1 is an excellent place to showcase its technical achievements to the buying public. Ferrari has also built up many other income streams from brand merchandise, which include everything from leather jackets to watches.
In contrast, Lamborghini offers more aggressively styled, fun-to-drive, and blisteringly fast cars. Their price points position them in a different automotive market segment, aiming at higher-income buyers than Ferrari. In addition, they sell little in the way of branded merchandise.
These differences in brand identity affect Lamborghini’s cost-benefit analysis about competing in F1.
Let’s look at the different ways this plays out.
The Financial Costs And Benefits Of Formula 1
Many people consider Formula 1 the pinnacle of motorsport. As a result, companies that compete in this arena garner enormous cachet from their achievements. This prestige can translate to a greater desire among the car-buying public for these companies products.
There is, therefore, a financial benefit to being involved in F1. Nevertheless, these rewards are difficult to quantify in terms of hard numbers, making it near impossible to calculate how much return on investment in Formula 1 accrues to these car manufacturers in increased sales to the public.
On the other hand, it is easy to determine how much money a company is sinking into F1. The cars that compete in this discipline are highly specialized, incredibly high-performance machines that bear little resemblance to street-legal vehicles.
For this reason, the car manufacturers involved in F1 seek sponsorship from other wealthy corporations, from petroleum suppliers to Swiss watchmakers.
Such sponsorship is necessary for the car manufacturers to be able to participate in F1; without them, all the costs would fall on the car manufacturers and impose too heavy a financial burden.
Lamborghini is one of many car manufacturers who do not see a financial benefit from competing in F1. Porsche, Jaguar, Maserati, Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, and Aston Martin are all manufacturers of high-performance cars that used to participate in F1 but no longer do so.
Lamborghini Does Not Want To Lose To Ferrari In Formula 1
As Formula 1 showcases a car manufacturer’s technological prowess, winning races and championships significantly boosts a brand’s reputation. However, losing can cause damage to reputations.
Ferrari and Mercedes Benz have benefited from their achievements in F1. On the other hand, Honda has performed poorly, tarnishing its image.
Lamborghini has no involvement with F1 and would take some time to catch up with the competition leaders.
As a result, if they were to race in Formula 1, they would spend years being out-competed by their rival, Ferrari. Such a showing would not benefit Lamborghini’s image.
Lamborghini’s Brief Involvement In Formula 1
Lamborghini briefly flirted with Formula 1. Engineer Mauro Forghieri designed a car called Lambo 291 to compete in the 1991 F1 season. He based this car’s engine on Lamborghini’s L3512 V12 naturally-aspirated engine.
However, Lamborghini did not race under their own name. Instead, the team was named Modena. Nicola Larini drove this car to seventh place in the United States Grand Prix, the first race the team competed in. However, this proved to be the best result it would achieve.
After that, the team failed pre-qualifying or qualifying and did not compete in many races. Larini gave the car four more starts in the German, Hungarian, Australian, and Italian Grand Prix races.
After this brief dalliance with F1, Lamborghini abandoned the format altogether. Continuing would have damaged the manufacturer’s reputation.
Lamborghini Thinks Formula 1 Is Irrelevant To Their Brand
Another reason why Lamborghini does not compete in F1 is that it does not line up with the company’s goals for its cars.
To be sure, Lamborghini has built its reputation on extremely high-performance cars. But these are still marketed as street-legal vehicles for those members of the public who can afford the price tag.
They believe that Formula 1 cars differ too radically from their production models to be relevant in promoting their brand. So instead of competing in F1, the Squadra Corse division of Lamborghini competes in GT endurance events and Le Mans Daytona h (LMDh).
The cars that the marque enters in these competitions are not street-legal production models, but they are generally similar to them.
Lamborghini’s track record includes seven championships over the last two decades. In 2020 and 2021, they achieved first place in the International GT3 and the British GT3 championships, and in 2021, they earned 24 victories and 26 podium finishes.
This success in a racing format where the cars closely resemble production models is of much more value to Lamborghini in promoting its brand than F1 could ever provide.
Lamborghini Would Rather Invest In Green Tech Than F1
With the world’s increased emphasis on sustainability and climate change mitigation, Lamborghini has stated that the company wishes to invest in green technology to reduce its cars’ carbon footprint and other environmental impacts.
To do so requires diverting finances from other possible investment avenues, such as Formula 1. In conjunction with the other reasons why Lamborghini would not want to compete in this racing format, it makes sense that they would rather spend their money on environmentally-friendly technology rather than a racing arena that will not benefit them.
There are several reasons why Lamborghini does not compete in F1, from financial cost-benefit analyses, the potential for damage to its image, and their desire to invest in green technology instead.
The most pertinent reason is that the format does not fit their strengths, whereas endurance events like GT do. So for all their brief involvement with F1, they are not likely to return to this arena.