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Ferrari spends the most in F1
The five car manufacturers that owned formula one teams last year needed to sell more than 25,000 cars to break even on their investment in the sport, according to new research.

Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW, Renault and Toyota spent a total of €608 million ($970m) on F1, but in the year to date they sold 1.7 million fewer vehicles than in 2008, leading to the latter three car manufacturers cutting their involvement in the sport.

F1's industry monitor Formula Money calculated the number of cars the manufacturers needed to sell in order to cover their cost of competing by dividing their budgets for the sport by the amount of revenue generated per car sold.

Ferrari, which has been competing in F1 longer than any other manufacturer, leads the field by a considerable margin when it comes to covering its costs. The Italian marque makes €275,000 per car sold, and so only needs to sell 153 vehicles to break even on its €42m investment in F1. In the nine months to the end of last September, it sold 4680 cars, 346 fewer than in the same period the previous year. However this 6.9 per cent fall was the smallest in percentage terms of any of the car manufacturers that owned F1 teams.

In contrast, Toyota's sales for the six months to the end of September showed that it sold 1.1m fewer cars compared with the same period the previous year. This was the biggest drop of any of the car manufacturer team owners and, in percentage terms, it was almost four times Ferrari's fall. Toyota announced it would pull out of F1 the day before it revealed its sales results in November.

The Japanese maker could least afford a fall in sales since it was making the largest investment of any F1 team owner by pouring €178m into the sport a year. Toyota needed to sell more than 9700 cars, more than any of its rivals, to cover its costs in F1.

Renault followed Toyota's lead last month, reducing its F1 exposure by selling a majority stake in its team to Luxembourg businessman Gerard Lopez.

Last September, Renault lost its team boss, Flavio Briatore, who was found to have manipulated the result of a race in 2008. To break even in F1, Renault needed to sell more than 8200 cars - more than any other maker except Toyota - but in the year to date its sales were down by 214,000.

Mercedes bucked the trend by selling its stake in the McLaren team to its co-owners and then buying into the world championship-winning Brawn team in November. Although its latest results show a 20 per cent fall in sales, Mercedes receives €37,797 in revenue per car sold - more than any other manufacturer except Ferrari. This means it only needed to sell 4154 cars, fewer than half as many as Toyota, to cover its F1 costs. However, it has not had an easy ride over the Brawn buy-out.

''We can not understand why the board of directors has immediately started a new formula one project,'' said Erich Klemm, deputy chairman of Mercedes's parent Daimler. ''In these economically difficult times, the company should invest in better marketing of its real cars.'' London Telegraph

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