Edit: Wasn't sure if I shoul post this in Sonic or Sega, whilst it's a Sega thing, the blue one appears... all over this event so... yeah. Feel free to move if you want to. Edit 2: I hit the image limit, so a few appear as just links. So if you guys were not aware yet, I run the Badnik Mechanic YouTube channel and for the last year I've been putting out videos which take an extensive look at specific moments in gaming history (mainly Sega and Sonic related) and for the last two weeks I've been researching the Sega and F1 partnership from 1993, initially I thought this would just end up being a fun retelling of the event, but as the way goes with this, I found a few bits of new information and accounts of the day, along with a few connections between that this event created with other big Sega events that some people are probably not that aware of. So this video is the result of that research, I hope you'll give it a look. So to avoid this just becoming a 'pls watch my video' and not doing anything else, let me explain why I'm making this thread and one of the reasons why I finally decided to join Retro. I've spent the last year researching a lot of Sonic and Sega related events and realised that a lot of even the most dedicated sites that catalogue this material mainly look at things from a surface level, which is fine since really that's the level of detail most people care about. But other times some events actually link to one another in ways which are not obvious (Which is the case with this particular partnership). By that I mean, take the Sega Star Kids challenge, they managed to get a lot of stars from Saved By the Bell and other comedy shows from the early 90's, which allowed Sega to get those same stars to come to the Sonic 2 launch party. The same thing happened with this partnership (I'll explain at the end). So I hope you get something from both the video (which admittedly contains a lot more information) and this thread which contains most of the main best bits. Beginnings A very brief backstory, if you've seen any of my other vids or know about Sega's campaigns during the early 90's they were trying to appeal to a specific demographic of potential customers, and one such tactic was to advertise and appeal to potential customers at events where this demographic typically hung out. Which is why you saw a lot of Sega promotion at popular sporting, theme parks and other big public events which were popular with teenagers and young adults. Which brings us to 1993 and the decision to sponsor F1. The Sponsorship There were two key people behind the sponsorship, Phil Ley & Simon Morris. In 1992-1993, Sega London (Now Sega Europe) were tasked with doing a promotional campaign that would appeal to teenagers and young adults which would be seen across the United Kingdom. But Morris and Ley decided to take it to another level, their thinking was 'what if we could do something that would be shown in the UK, but also potentially shown across Europe and the rest of the world?' So they looked at F1 racing. In the 90's, F1 had a lot more appeal than it does today, it was seen by even non racing fans as being a cool, fast and exciting sport. Sega during this time were also trying to promote themselves as being a cool and exciting company, who also had a fast character mascot, see the connection? Sponsorship's with F1 teams were also really different in the 90's. Most teams were sponsored by Tobacco companies and it was rare for companies outside of the traditional brands who dominated motor racing to try and sponsor a team or race. So this is where there is some discrepancy, but this seems like the most likely scenario as to what happened based on what I've read and researched. Sega approached F1 with their intention to pick a team to sponsor, at this point all interested teams would enter negotiations with Sega and it seemed that a lot of teams were interested because Sega were apparently willing to pay far higher than what even the most lucrative sponsors were willing to pay. The winning team was Williams, a combination of one of their drivers being Damon Hill (UK based) and the fact the Williams team were willing to make a lot of concessions in terms of Sega's branding. Unlike a lot of the other teams, Williams were willing to place Sega's logo all over their car, uniforms and even pit areas, on top of this, they would also be willing to host several Sega related events at their headquarters and book their drivers to appear at a number of Sega themed events (this is one of those links to other events I was talking about). By a coincidence, Williams had a uniform colour scheme which was very similar to that of Sonic the hedgehog, blue uniforms with a patch of Yellow, even their shoes were red with a white stripe on them. The drivers helmets were one of the coolest part of the uniform, they had a great piece of Sonic artwork on the top in a makeshift Sega themed boarder. The positioning of the logos on the sleeves were done deliberately, due to the fact that if the driver won a race or did well, it was common for them to cheer as they did a celebration lap, meaning you could see the sponsors logo in full view of the cameras. Even if the tv crew cut to the drivers view, you could also make out the sponsor logo. In car view of the sponsor logo. The Car Odds are you've seen the 'see through' effect which shows Sonic's legs pressing down on the accelerator, making it appear that Sonic is driving when the car is in motion. But there was another much lesser known design which shows Sonic's hand on the gear stick. It doesn't have quite the same effect as the leg design but it still works. The car also had the Sega logo on the back of the wing mirrors (see above) but another cool aspect of the car was the wing spoiler. So the initial design was just the Sega logo and the Sonic head, but each time Williams achieved pole position, they would add a pirate Sega skull to the spoiler. There are a few variations of this (see my video) one which doesn't have the Sonic head, and as the 1993 season goes on you can see more heads added to the spoiler. Williams Pit Area As part of the deal, Williams would have to decorate their pit area with tons of Sonic and Sega imagery at every race they went to, this usually involved their pit crew wearing Sega branded shirts and hats, but also the walls would be decorated with various images and artwork of Sonic.... Including... This one.... I have not edited that image, that's an actual piece of artwork that was used in the Williams team pit area, right by where they did interviews, yes it's an official image of Sonic that appears to be flipping you off! The Race Along with sponsoring the Williams team, Sega planned to also sponsor one of the actual race events, they chose the European Championship at Donington in the UK, reason for this is... Nobody else wanted to sponsor it. It was a race that even F1 didn't care too much about, so whilst it was an expensive event to sponsor, it was much cheaper to sponsor for Sega than it would be if it were an event people actually cared about. So Sega really went to town on this one, the big change was the name of the event itself, they managed to get it re-named "The Sega European Grand Prix" which appeared on both TV and promotional material at the event itself. Programme cover for the race. But sega were not just content with the name change, they completely transformed the circuit. I think these photos will illustrate just how much they transformed the course with their branding. The circuit itself was also decorated with both Sega's logo and signs which showed Sonic, unfortunately I couldn't find any good still photography of these signs, so this screengrab of the race will have to do. The Sonic & Sega signs on the track. These signs were all over the track, virtually every few meters there's either a Sega or Sonic sign. A few other fun circuit placements were the giant Game Gears. These things were actually the giant display screens that were normally on the track, but Sega re-decorated them to look like Game Gears. Apparently there were a few of these, but I could only find one example of the giant game gears, if you check out my vid you can see it in 'motion' as it shows some action on the screen. Another cool feature was the sign and ticker display. A giant Sonic accompanied the electronic billboard, the billboard would display various Sega slogans before and during the race, as well as a few fun contextual messages during the race start and end, according to reports from people at the venue, it displayed 'Game on' at the race start and 'Game Over' when Senna won the race. To help entertain the crowd, music from various Sega games were also played before the race started. Before the race started there was a parade of pit girls, all wearing Sonic costumes... and they all look amazingly depressed, every one of them looks like they hate it. There is some very brief video of this parade in my video on the subject, odds are they look so depressed because aside from the outfits, the day was really poor weather wise, lots of wind and rain, they were likely freezing cold and were outside in those outfits for hours. The only time they look happy is when the cameras are directly on them. Now there were also due to be other fun things going on at the race, but they had to be taken down due to the poor weather, but they were up and running during the time trial events the day before, these include, a giant Sonic hot air balloon. And even a giant Sonic 2 themed blimp! Unfortunately I couldn't find any footage of the blimp, but there does exist some video of the hot air balloon at the race site. If you check out my video (around 10:22) there's a brief clip of the balloon at track side during Damon Hill's time trial run. But odds are looking up any time trial for Donington 1993 will net you a glimpse of it. The UK Sonic & Tails mascots were also at the event, but there's not much in terms of footage or video from from this event, Yeah you don't have to say it, I've done a video on just the Sonic mascot costumes and... these are far from the worst ones ever used! That Trophy So this trophy... The trophy was created by Sega specially for the event, but Senna was also awarded with 'the real trophy' shortly after. One fun thing I noticed when looking at the video, is when the BBC realise they're showing the sponsor trophy, they quickly zoom out, then zoom back in when the real trophy is shown. Now this trophy was believed to be lost, but McClaren themselves confirmed it's still around in one of their store rooms. They also confirmed that the arm is adjustable. But it speaks volumes how this is hidden away than on display with their other silverware. Further Promotion As part of the promotion, this new original artwork of Sonic wearing a racing drivers uniform was created to celebrate the partnership. Full Sized Image This artwork was used repeatedly throughout the 90's, it was used on a number of T-Shirts and jumpers/sweaters, but was also used in Sega World London as part of a the Racing Track level. As mentioned earlier, part of the deal with Sega meant that the Williams drivers would be used for various promotional events, these included a number of TV adverts, including one for Sonic Chaos and both the car and drivers were used to launch the Sega On the Road busses for 1993. But another elaborate promotion that the Williams team were involved in were the Sega UK and European Championships, both Damon Hill and Alain Prost were on hand to give prizes to the winners, and the UK championship finals were even held at the Williams HQ. This is what I meant by how some events end up linking to one another. The UK Sega championships would have been held at another venue had this partnership not taken place, and Sega's relationship with popular celebrities of the time like Chris Evans wouldn't have developed which meant he probably wouldn't have taken part in the Sega RLSS life guarding video. The car itself would also be used after it was retired from racing, it spent time as a display piece in Sega World, right under a giant mural of the racing driver Sonic. Pin badges and other merch were also created for the partnership. Pin badge image You can even get official model miniature helmets which actually have the Sonic artwork on them. It's also possible to get full sized replicas but... yeah those are EXPENSIVE! Believe it or not, but you can still buy official merch based on the partnership to this day, the reason being is that fans and collectors of F1 merch want cars from all history to look exactly like they did, this includes the sponsor decals. I've no idea if Sega get a percentage of this or not but it's still cool to see new merch being made for this. Where's The Car Now? After the car left Sega World London, it was returned to William's, it's now part of the Williams HQ's history centre, you can still view it to this day and it still makes appearances at car shows and events, it also still has some functionality to it, the engine still works as does the active suspension. So I hope you enjoyed this thread, please check out the video since there's a lot more detail in there as well as video of some of the things I've talked about here, if anyone has any questions, I'll try to answer as best I can since I suspect I forgot to include one or two things. Further Reading: Eurogamer: Interview with Morris and Ley Pit Pass: First hand account of the partnership and even the race itself. Sega Retro: Basically... all these magazines contain information about how Williams helped Sega with other promotions after the race and season was completed. (There was a bunch more but I unfortunately messed up with the recording of the references this time around).