The overlap on the Formula 1 and gaming Venn diagram seems to only be getting bigger, from the multitude of F1 racing games to the current drivers who use sim racing to keep their skills sharp even when they’re off the track (looking at you Max Verstappen), and of course the growing number of sponsorships going from each side to the other.

Every Formula 1 team now has their own dedicated esports teams for the different sim racing leagues, and in the post-Netflix 'Drive to Survive' world where F1 owners, Liberty Media, are actively trying to appeal to younger and wider audiences, this is an easy move to make. 

As mentioned, this is a two-way street, and now gaming companies are actively sponsoring F1 teams and events, and at the Hungaroring tech giants like Workday and Salesforce could be seen all over the track. EPOS is a prominent sponsor of Aston Martin, and now Alfa Romeo has revealed a new livery with a new controversial game streaming service, Kick. 

F1 is no stranger to colourful sponsors, with Rich Energy being one that comes to most people's minds first. The seemingly non-existent sponsor of the Haas F1 team and the controversy around them was a prominent part of season two of 'Drive to Survive'. Other than Rich, there have been Ponzi schemes, a fraudulent crypto company, and of course all of the alcohol and tobacco companies from the days of old. 

So, what’s wrong with Kick? Maybe nothing, but many people are worried that it’s being funded by gambling. This is because one of the main investors and co-founders, Ed Craven, is also a co-founder of a crypto-gambling site called Stake. And you might think so what if it is? Well, Kick’s main competitor Twitch, has been taking an ever stronger anti-gambling stance recently due to pressure from the public, so Kick’s timing warrants scrutiny at least. Is it a coincidence that a new streaming site that’s backed by crypto and gambling has sprung into existence when the biggest streaming company has banned gambling? We’ll leave that up to you.

We know that Kick is spending ungodly amounts of money on advertising, both directly and indirectly. They’re creating news stories for themselves by paying streamers hundreds of millions in signing bonuses to use their service instead of Twitch, and offering a much higher percentage of the donations they receive from viewers – Kick offers a 95%/5% revenue split to the creators, where Twitch is 50%/50%.  On top of this, they’re advertising to new, non-gaming, audiences like F1 fans, hence the Alfa Romeo sponsorship. 

In most people’s view, Kick hasn’t done anything wrong, yet, so maybe this sponsorship will just be a footnote in Wikipedia someday. But there’s a non-zero chance that we could be hearing about this on 'Drive to Survive' season 6.