This article is from the Formula One Motor Racing FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (Mitchell McCann) with numerous contributions by others.
F1 teams could not continue to spend at current levels without
sponsors, among which the cigarette companies are major players.
Advertising regulations in Britain, France and Germany mean that
Williams appear there with 'Racing' rather than 'Rothmans'
written on them, and for McLaren it was 'McLaren' rather than
'Marlboro'. (Will they now use East instead of West as Zakspeed
use to do?) Sponsors can also rent out space on drivers as well
as cars, and all spaces are available right down to the back of
the mirrors. A six-inch wide patch on the front wing of a
Williams will cost you about 2 million dollars for the season.
Oh, and you won't be able to see it on the telly, but they'll do
you a nice package of sponsored events for the price. (!)
The best advert I saw was in 1993 when Sega sponsored Williams.
The Sega character, Sonic the Hedgehog, appeared at most of the
races, and the side of the car was painted so it appeared as a
cutout showing Sonic's legs doing the driving. McLaren responded
by sticking a squashed hedgehog logo to the side of their car
each time they won a race at the expense of a Williams. Senna's
incredible victory in the wet Donington GP of Europe was
headlined in Autosport as 'Senna's mega-drive'.