MP Motorsport cashing in on success: 'More sponsorship requests than ever'

MP Motorsport cashing in on success: 'More sponsorship requests than ever'

22 January - 16:22

It seems time for a new trophy cabinet. Right after the entrance to MP Motorsport's accommodation are three large showcases, all filled to the brim with cups and trophies. Central in the leftmost cabinet is the most important prize that the Dutch team from Westmaas - not far from Rotterdam - managed to capture in its now rich history: the cup belonging to the Formula 2 title.

For years, all the hard work yielded nothing more than a spot somewhere in the middle of the league. In 2021, everything was finally different. MP Motorsport, founded in 1995 and also active in Formula 2 since 2017, took both top prizes in the class just below F1: in the teams and with Felipe Drugovich in the drivers. " It was a great season, but we are already in full swing with the new season," said Henk de Jong, MP Motorsport's owner, in conversation with GPblog.

MP Motorsport the prey

Even on this Saturday, when MP Motorsport is holding an open day for the staff of the De Jong Group (the owner's company), mechanics are tinkering with the F2, F3 and F4 cars in the workshop. Even though the start of the season is still a month and a half away, the stakes are high for MP Motorsport. The team is no longer the hunter, it is the prey that others are now hunting. "Now we are the favourite. It's harder to defend, but fun. We are definitely going to battle again. How? We are all going to do our stinkin' best and of course it is important which poppets you have behind the wheel next year. It's not just the car, it's a combination of," De Jong believes.

Next year Dennis Hauger will be in one of the F2 cars, the other driver is still unknown. Last year, MP Motorsport had Felipe Drugovich as its lead driver. The Brazilian and the Dutch team proved to be a golden combination. " We all really wanted Felipe back, after he had done a very good rookie season with us in 2020," team manager Sander Dorsman looks back. "That year we won a lot of races, so we knew there was a good click. Then, of course, you hope to become champion. That would be a scenario..."

Qualities Drugovich

The film script was indeed written: Drugovich - in his third season in F2 - did what he was brought in for. Meanwhile, the Brazilian has been appointed Aston Martin's test and reserve driver. The next few years should show whether Drugovich has the qualities to grow into a full-fledged F1 driver. " I understand why you say that, because he is no popiejopie," De Jong responds. "Felipe is a very quiet guy, unobtrusive. Maybe he doesn't have the right look of a playboy, so to speak."

"But as a driver he is definitely a good guy. Especially technically, he is very good with his tyres. Look at Max (Verstappen), in Formula 1 tyre management is hugely important." Dorsman adds: "He became champion with 100 points ahead of the number two. One hundred points!"

Drugovich is the hope of Brazil. The country that breathes motorsport has been waiting for a new Ayrton Senna for some time. Or even just a new Felipe Massa. " They are yearning for a Formula One driver" says Dorsman. "Brazilians are running away with him. On social media, they react with enormous enthusiasm. Felipe has a huge fanbase there. Nice to see." Henk de Jong says: "Brazil is a big country, with big sponsors. I think he should be happy to have a Brazilian passport."

F2 is not cheap

In no other sport are sponsors as vital as in motorsport. With success come friends, it is said. MP Motorsport too has noticed that last year's titles have sparked interest from potential backers. "It (bringing in sponsors) is easier, but it's not like they're standing at the door asking, 'Can I please sponsor?' If you want to sponsor the football club in the village, 5,000 euros will make that club happy. It may sound a bit arrogant, but 5,000 euros is not enough for us. So you need big companies. We have now had many more applications than ever. We are still talking to two big sponsors. If that succeeds, that will be nice," De Jong says.

Extra budgets are necessary now that the junior classes are starting in Australia, for example. Liberty Media, owner of F1, F2 and F3, is offering a helping hand. " They take good care of the logistical costs, otherwise our budgets would really have to go through the roof," says Dorsman. "There will be more F2 races, more often outside Europe. So then they are also helping financially. It's a compliment how Liberty handles it, that they see the value of F2 and F3. And so it's also allowed to cost something."

Whereas the supporting racing classes had to race at the most inconvenient times in Grand Prix weekends, they are increasingly getting a prominent place. As a result, fan interest is increasing. "F2 and F3 always offer exciting races, you never know who will win." De Jong hooks in: "I even hear people saying more and more: 'Actually, the F2 and F3 races on television are much nicer than F1.' They never thought about that before, because all those races were at 9 o'clock in the morning, while they didn't sit down for Formula 1 until 2 o'clock."

Video player

More videos