Formula 1 Racing

How an Austrian vodka with Siberian roots shows F1’s strength in the US

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

The days of rookie drivers and few backers from outside the Red Bull family have long gone.

The team has been relaunched with a new name, new management, an influx of top technical brains and with Netflix star Daniel Ricciardo in the cockpit, inevitably helping to attract attention.

It’s a sign of the changing face of F1 that the team has been chosen by two huge American corporations for their international marketing campaigns.

However, Visa and Cash App were beaten to the track by another much smaller US-owned brand, albeit one with a Russian name and a product made in Austria.

The arrival of NEFT Vodka at the then AlphaTauri outfit in Las Vegas last year represents an interesting case study in why sponsors, and especially those with American links, are flooding into the sport – and indeed why the Italian team in particular is suddenly flush with new backers.

NEFT’s logos may only have a modest presence on the RB car’s headrest and front wheel deflectors, but for billionaire owner Jeff Mahony, it’s an important project and one that he sees as a great investment.

Mahony is a little like one of the wealthy business gurus featured in the TV show Dragons’ Den, always keeping an eye open for interesting investment opportunities.

“My degree is in cognitive science, which today translates into artificial intelligence,” he says. “As a young man, I was recruited into aerospace firms and the Department of Defence.

“Everything really started in 1999. I created some technology that now services a little over 7000 banking operations around the world. So that was my creation.

“I’ve sort of stepped out from there, but I used those income streams to create an ecosystem of a much larger set of companies. We own about 22 companies in our mix, and probably half of them are global in nature. Anything from trucking to dating apps, you name it, we’re participating there.

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

“We’re always looking for a great product, something that doesn’t have to be finished or tweaked, so that we can begin to put our work into that. Our work is really about setting up the logistics and operations worldwide.

“We look to acquire a majority interest, if not the entire company. And we also have a large enough infrastructure and ecosystem that we’re able to help those companies. If they’re smaller in nature, we can kind of help them through an incubator style.

“NEFT is our flagship. There were…

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