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Why Is F1 Merch So Expensive? (Costs Explained)

As a Formula 1 fan, one thing that might be on your mind is buying merchandise from your favorite team – that is until you see the prices at least! Oftentimes teams can charge up to $70 for a t-shirt and almost $50 for a cap, leaving many fans wondering why F1 merchandise is so expensive.

F1 merch is expensive mainly because of supply and demand. There aren’t many places that sell official F1 merch, which means that teams can push up their prices but fans will still buy the merch. Teams also use merch as an income stream to help them cover costs and generate ROI for their sponsors.

On top of the standard merch such as polo shirts and hoodies, teams sometimes even sell parts of their cars as collector’s items too. Luckily though, there are some ways that you can get F1 merch for better prices, and we discuss this in more detail below.

Why Is F1 Merchandise So Expensive?

Formula 1 merchandise is always desirable if you’re an F1 fan, and it’s always available at a Grand Prix where you would want to be representing your favorite team or driver. However, when you see the prices you’ll most likely be having second thoughts about whether or not you should be buying merchandise from your favorite Formula 1 team.

Grand Prix admission tickets might be expensive, but oftentimes the merchandise being sold by the teams is more expensive than the admission tickets that will get you into the race. If you’re buying F1 merch at the track during a Grand Prix weekend you can expect to pay around $50 for a cap and over $70 just for a t-shirt.

It’s Not Just An F1 Thing

We all know that sports teams can charge a lot of money to sell their official merch, but when compared to other sports, the kind of merchandise F1 teams have can seem a bit over the top when it comes to pricing. These prices have raised the question as to why exactly F1 merch has become so expensive.

There are a few different reasons Formula 1 merch is so expensive, and it mostly comes down to supply and demand. Finding real F1 merch is difficult and there’s a lot of demand for F1 merch with the sport’s popularity growing massively over the past few years. The supply and demand concept means that teams can charge outrageous prices, but fans will still buy their products.

Income Stream For Teams

Running a Formula 1 team is extremely expensive. Even though the budget cap is $140 million, there are a lot of other costs behind the scenes that many people are not aware of. The salaries for the staff and drivers for example are not covered in the budget cap, and this can add a few extra millions (or many extra millions) to the running costs of Formula 1 teams.

Formula 1 teams need to generate a lot of money just to survive, and since they rely mostly on sponsorships, they need to ensure that they have other ways to generate money. Selling their merchandise is simply another income stream for them to take advantage of.

You might be thinking that selling a couple of shirts here and there won’t produce millions of dollars, but in the world of sports, merchandise is a huge moneymaker. For example, in Premier League soccer a team can generate millions of dollars in shirt sales if they buy a popular player, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, who went back to Manchester United in 2021.

When Manchester United signed Ronaldo in 2021 the team generated $237 million simply by selling Ronaldo shirts. It cost the team just $27 million to sign the Portuguese superstar, which means that they had already covered their costs and made a massive profit just by selling merchandise. The same goes for Formula 1 teams, especially when they perform well.

Sponsors ROI

Formula 1 sponsorship deals involve millions of dollars. For example, the recent deal between Oracle and Red bull Racing is reportedly worth $500 million over five years. There must be an incentive for sponsors to be willing to pay that much money to Formula 1 teams.

With sponsors paying millions of dollars to fund Formula 1 teams, it’s essential that they get that value back in return. If they don’t get value back, there’s practically no point in paying millions of dollars to sponsor a Formula 1 team. Selling merchandise provides ROI to sponsors in two main ways.

Walking Billboards

The first is that the sponsors’ logos will be put on the merch that the team sells. This essentially makes you a walking billboard if you buy F1 merch and wear it out in public. 

Oracle, for example, have massive logos on the Red Bull shirts because they have become their title sponsor, so whenever someone wears a Red Bull shirt, Oracle (and Red Bull’s other sponsors) will get free marketing from millions of people all around the world

Where To Buy Real F1 Merch

With Formula 1 merchandise being so expensive and more in demand than ever before, you may come across a ton of websites that sell fake F1 merchandise. Oftentimes these can be cheaper, but they can sometimes be just as expensive, and if you’re paying a lot of money you may as well get the real thing.

If you follow a bunch of Formula 1 teams, drivers, and community pages on your social media accounts, you’re bound to have seen some ads selling Formula 1 merchandise. Unless it’s from an official store such as a Formula 1 team, or a Puma retailer, it’s most likely going to be fake merchandise.

There are a few different places where you can find genuine Formula 1 merchandise. You’ll likely have to pay a bit more than the knockoffs, but if you’re an F1 fanatic it’s worth the money, especially if you’re looking for collector’s items. The real deal is usually also much better quality than the fake stuff.

F1 Website

The most reliable place you can go to if you want to find general Formula 1 merchandise and a selection of merchandise from all the teams is the official Formula 1 website. The F1 website’s store has a wide range of products that you can choose from, including merchandise from teams and drivers.

You won’t find all of the merchandise sold by the F1 teams on the official F1 store, but you can find some of the most popular products such as hoodies, t-shirts, and caps. You can also find individual driver merchandise, but only for their current teams.

The F1 store often updates its merchandise to include any new arrivals and to refresh its collection of items from time to time. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for any limited edition items that the F1 store might release.

If you’re a fan of a legendary driver such as Michael Schumacher or Ayrton Senna you can sometimes find some of their merchandise on the official F1 store as well. It might not be real vintage merchandise from back in the day, but rather a modern take using the drivers as inspiration.

F1 Teams 

If you’re a supporter of a specific team or driver the best place you can go to is the team’s official website. You can buy F1 teams’ merchandise directly from the F1 store, but visiting the team’s website and their store will give you a much wider range of options to choose from.

Visiting the official F1 team store will allow you to buy merch that you can’t find anywhere else. From mugs to sunglasses and lanyards, this is the place to go if you want to show your full support to your favorite F1 team while picking up just about any kind of merch imaginable.

The F1 team stores also often have more driver-based merchandise if you’re looking at supporting a specific driver rather than just a team. If you want even more driver-specific merchandise, you should visit the driver’s website if they have one, as they often bring out their own personal merchandise as well.

The majority of Formula 1 teams have newsletters and social media pages you can subscribe to. If you’re a member of these pages you can sometimes be notified of discounts, sales, giveaways, and other competitions.

F1 Authentics

The F1 Authentics website is relatively new, but don’t expect to find anything cheap on here either. It’s not strictly the standard “F1 merchandise” that you would expect to find in the F1 store such as t-shirts and baseball caps.

Instead, these are true collector’s items, of which there are very few. You can find real, race-used car parts, race suits, and helmets for sale on this website. Many of the parts have been repurposed, such as wheel rims being turned into coffee tables and pieces of bodywork reworked as art that you can hang up on your wall for example.

Of course, none of these items are cheap as Formula 1 teams did spend a lot of money to develop and manufacture these parts, so there’s no way that they will be sold at a cheap price just because teams can’t use them anymore.

It’s always a great website to check out, even if you’re just browsing and not buying anything, as some of the things they sell are super interesting and creative. F1 Authentics even has real Formula 1 cars for sale from time to time, if that’s something that might interest you and you’ve got a spare couple of hundred thousand dollars to spend on some artwork!

Retail Stores

Retail stores are also a good place to look for some F1 merch. However, don’t expect to find a massive selection of merchandise to choose from when you walk into your local shopping mall’s Puma store.

In the majority of cases, you’ll only find some of the most popular teams such as Ferrari and Mercedes, and on top of that, you usually won’t find much variety either. The majority of retail stores simply offer team t-shirts and caps, and you’re unlikely to find individual driver merchandise in these stores.

However, the F1 merchandise in retail stores can sometimes be a little bit cheaper, especially if they are not the official merchandise items. It’s also more convenient if you want to try on the merchandise before buying it.

If you’re looking for merch from other teams such as Aston Martin or Haas though, you likely won’t ever find any of their merchandise in retail stores, so you’ll have no choice but to buy from the official F1 store or the team’s official stores.

How Does The Cost Of F1 Merch Compare To Other Motorsports?

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport with millions of followers worldwide. As such, it’s fair to assume that they will have the most expensive merchandise compared to other forms of motorsport. With world famous brands such as Ferrari and Mercedes, it’s easy to see why the merch can become pricey.

Compared to MotoGP, Formula 1 merch is only slightly more expensive though. The average F1 t-shirt costs around $70, whereas in MotoGP it’s around $60 for a t-shirt. Caps on the other hand are much cheaper than you would find in Formula 1, with MotoGP only charging around $30 compared to the $50 charged at the F1 store.

IndyCar merch is usually much more affordable than both Formula 1 and MotoGP and you can expect to find t-shirts for around $30. Caps are also priced at around $30, which is similar to MotoGP but still much more affordable than Formula 1 caps.

Finally, let’s take a look at another international racing series: WEC. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most famous races in the world, so you would expect to pay quite a bit for WEC merch too. T-shirts are priced at around $45, and caps can be found at around $30 as well. Overall, F1 is quite expensive compared to other motorsports in the merch department.

How To Get Cheaper F1 Merch

With the prices of Formula 1 merchandise shooting through the roof it’s always a good idea to try and get some discounts wherever possible so you can rep your favorite team. As we mentioned earlier, a good way to get discounts on F1 merch is to sign up for newsletters and follow the teams on social media.

You can also find some incredible discounts at the end of the season. When the season is over, the teams often have clearance sales as they need to bring out new merchandise, so you can often find items being discounted by 50% or more during December, January, and February.

Another good place to look for good quality F1 merchandise is eBay and some other unofficial stores or online marketplaces. You can often find great vintage F1 merchandise for good prices. Vintage could be a 1980 Ferrari t-shirt for $20, or it could even be a 2014 Red Bull Racing rain jacket at $50, as it all depends on what vintage means to you.

Final Thoughts

F1 merchandise is expensive because of supply and demand, and the prices are only increasing as the years go by. The demand for F1 merch is increasing as the sport becomes more popular, but there aren’t many places you can find it. Plus, teams know they can charge high prices and still get sales.