|© AP Photo/Peter Lim
Sebastian Vettel’s three world titles aren’t enough to propel the German as the most marketable Formula 1 driver with Lewis Hamilton taking the crown in that department.
In ‘The World’s 50 Most Marketable’ list for 2013 compiled by industry news magazine SportsPro, four F1 drivers make the cut but with noticeable absentees including world champions Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen.
SportsPro reasoned that it ranked athletes “according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer” taking into account value for money, age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal.
Hamilton was seventh overall and the leading F1 driver in the list, topped by Brazilian football player Neymar.
The 28-year-old Mercedes driver, who was ranked 12th overall last year, was reported to have “a new lease of life from both a sporting and commercial perspective this year” after leaving McLaren.
“Enshrined in his contract is greater commercial freedom, potentially opening the way for the Briton to attach himself to new brands,” SportsPro explained referring to Mercedes’ partners such as Petronas and BlackBerry which have been added to the driver’s commercial portfolio.
Vettel, aged 25, dropped from eighth to 12th this year despite his success but continues to be an influential figure particularly since his rumoured association with Ferrari and for being a poster boy for Red Bull, which has a large sports marketing empire.
“He is a global ambassador for Infiniti, his team’s title sponsor, and is likely to be used increasingly as a marketing tool when the luxury car manufacturer rolls out new products,” SportsPro pointed out.
Sergio Perez dropped one position from last year to 24th. The 23-year-old’s status had received a boost last year after interest from both Ferrari and McLaren, the latter convinced that the Mexican was the best replacement for the departing Hamilton.
“Perez may yet prove to be the team’s key to unlocking new Mexican investment but a commitment to turning him into a Formula 1 winner is the immediate focus for his new employers,” SportsPro said adding that Perez’s integration into McLaren’s campaigns of longstanding sponsors such as Mobil 1, Tag Heuer and Hugo Boss over the next few years would add to the driver’s profile.
Robert Kubica was a new entrant to the list after the Pole began his return to the international motorsport scene with Citroen, after his horrific crash early in 2011.
“Deals with Polish petrol firm Lotos and racewear manufacturer Alpinestars, both of whom are backing his exploits this year, are the first indications of renewed commercial momentum around a man who, at 28, still has time on his side,” SportsPro reasoned. "His inclusion on this list is based on the potential that the man Fernando Alonso maintains would be the quickest of all in Formula 1 today.”
NASCAR drivers Danica Patrick (ranked 45) and Dale Earnhardt Jr (45th) also featured on the list.
"The ranking is not scientific, although much data was used to put it together; it is a subjective rating, based on expert knowledge, extensive counsel from a range of global sources and just a touch of soothsaying,” SportsPro explained.