F1 merchandise that fans can’t afford

I read on GrandPrix.com that FOA has signed a deal with a firm called Kitbag to operate the merchandise section of the Formula 1 website. I’m not sure what it means for the current F1 store. But I certainly hope it means that it will start selling much better products.

Whenever I take a look at the F1 store, I am flabbergasted. This is surely the biggest mistake Bernie Ecclestone has ever made. I can’t imagine many sales are made at all.

I remember a few years back filling in a survey for Formula1.com. One of the questions asked if I would buy official Formula 1 baseball caps and the like. I said no and it asked back, why not? All I could write was, “Why would I?” I mean, why would you?

To the extent that people want merchandise, it is usually to express their support for a team or driver. The same goes for any sport. It’s not too often you see anyone walking down the street wearing an official FA Barclays Premier League t-shirt or any other generic football merchandise.

So quite what possessed Bernie Ecclestone to think that people would be prepared to pay astronomical prices for Formula 1 merchandise is beyond me. T-shirts, for instance, are £30. But that’s just the start of it.

How about £250 for a mousemat? Hell, throw caution to the wind and buy the premium version (!) — £260 for one made out of leather.

How about a £50 keyring? A £24 poster? An £85 photo frame? A £250 ringbinder (“Comes with complimentary Formula 1™ pad” — how generous!)?

A chavvy but expensive F1 baseball cap The worst product, which I have featured on this blog before, is this baseball cap which features an F1 logo made out of Swarovski crystals. It looks rather chav-tastic to me. The pink one really is the sort of thing an eight year old girl would wear, rather than anyone who’d like to be taken seriously. But it will take a long time to accumulate £125 out of pocket money.

Credit where it’s due though. While the most expensive wallets are £120, Bernie does offer a reduced-price wallet… at £50.

I understand that Formula 1 likes to be seen as a cut above. And this approach does avoid the tackier Nascar products such as Nascar meat snacks (more at Boing Boing). But by asking for £250 for a ringbinder and £260 for a mousemat (not to mention the £390 watches, although they actually look rather nice), it just makes F1 look like it has its collective head up its arse.


  1. The other thing they could do is “event” merchandise – the WRC merchandise is much better (IMO) – I have a pin-badge from each year I managed to attend the “Wales Rally GB” event, and a “Wales Rally GB” polo shirt – rather than supporting a particular team or driver, I just want something to say “I was there” – so I can see a market for similar “event” merchandise too – but none of the F1 merchandise falls into that category either.

    I suppose it’s up to the teams to provide “team specific” merchandise – to be honest, if I wanted to buy a Ferarri shirt, I’d be starting my hunt on Ferrari websites (both official, and “fan” sites) – I wouldn’t go looking on the main F1 site.

    The main F1 site, if it wants to sell stuff at all should be selling stuff like books, dvd’s etc – I’d be thinking along the lines of a book of profiles of the great drivers of the past, or other “non-team-specific” stuff.

    Just my thoughts…

  2. To clarify – when I said “non-team specific” stuff – I meant *affordable* non-team specific stuff…

    How about a “What penalty will the stewards award” dice set?

  3. Is there a need for F1 merchandise at all? As you say, it’s rare that anyone would want to show their support for F1 and even less likely they would want to support the FIA themselves.

    F1 is meant to be at the forefront of technology so I can understand why they would want their range of products to reflect this – but who actually buys it is another matter.

    Hopefully kitbag will manage things a little better – by all means have a “premium” range, but don’t leave out the other 99.999999% of the population who can’t afford them (and probably wouldn’t want them anyway).

    I bet most fans with that kind of cash to spare (waste?) would probably prefer to buy an actual carpart or something similar – a rearwing endpanel or something similar.

    As for event merchandise, Silverstone do quite a fine range of products at the British GP, from t-shirts and fleeces to teddies and radios – opening these up to a wider audience via the F1 website may be one way ahead.

  4. I can see the appeal of F1 merch in general. Grand Prix Legends, for instance, sells a lot of good team and driver merchandise. Not necessarily stuff I’d buy (although I did get some Jordan stuff when I was younger), but a whole lot better than anything the F1 site sells.

  5. I didn’t explain myself very well – I can see the appeal of merchandise for the teams and drivers, but not F1 itself. Someone somewhere must buy it though!

    On the football theme, although I don’t think you can buy stuff with the Barlcays Premiership logos all over it, I’m sure the FA and the SFA do have various items for sale so again someone must buy them!

  6. Hmm think I’ll save my money to buy yet more Fernando merchandise next season lol.

    BTW nice site I take it you don’t like Lewis then lol! I don’t and I’m from England as well!

    But yes F1 stuff is crap and would a carbon mouse mat really work?

  7. Hi SupaFly. Thanks for your comments! Hope you stick around.

    I’d have thought the carbon mousemats would be rubbish. Surely the mouse would just slide all over the place. This possibly explains why there is a ‘premium’ one with a leather panel!

  8. As an addendum to the earlier comments on the carbon mousemat: does anyone still willingly use the balled-mouse? Bah, I thought the days of digging out belly fluff from the innards was long over.

  9. I still have a ball mouse on my computer, and I intend to keep that style of mouse for as long as possible. For one thing, I find that they last me a decent length of time (my current mouse has lasted me two years so far and the previous one lasted about five), whereas the only time I had an optical mouse, it lasted me two frustrating weeks. Also, I find I have a lot more control over a ball mouse than an optical one. Ball mice can’t use hard surfaces (such as carbon) and you’d probably be better off with something less reflective for optical ones. This sort of thing is designed for people like my older brother who used a mousemat with his first optical mouse (back when optical mice were fashion statements more than they were functional devices). They’re for posers rather than computer users

    As for the main point of this blog, anyone with half a brain cell could have told Bernie that this price structure was ridiculous. I remember Grand Prix Legends criticising several teams for over-priced gear in the middle of 2005, and said that virtually all of their sales were for items below $185. Bernie obviously never asked them for their opinion!