From F1 To Ligue 1, Sir Jim Ratcliffe And Team INEOS' Sporting Influence Grows

A £25m-a-year partnership has been announced between Ineos and the Mercedes F1 team
13:55, 11 Feb 2020

In 2019, Sir Jim Ratcliffe was announced by The Sunday Times Rich List as the third wealthiest person in the UK, with a net worth of just over £18 billion.

That’s rich enough for him to purchase any of the 72 world’s poorest countries. Or in other words he’s got just under 40% of the globe to choose from if he felt like splurging.     

Born in Failsworth, northeast of the city of Manchester towards Oldham, Ratcliffe is the founder of the international petrochemicals behemoth INEOS,  a company most will be familiar with through their sponsorship of the celebrated British cycling team (having taken over from Sky), and their recent unveiling as the partner of Mercedes Formula One - the winners of the past six F1 seasons - for the next five years, worth £25million per annum.

The collaboration is through Mercedes’ new Applied Science division, with the partnership announced at the tailend of 2019. Team principal Toto Wolff shared footage alongside Ratcliffe as the new vehicle for the 2020 season was unveiled at the Royal Automobile Club in London on February 10.

The motorsport venture is just the latest foray for Ratcliffe and INEOS into the world of sport.

Broadcast to more than 200 territories in October 2019, the planet watched in awe as Eliud Kipchoge became the first person in recorded human history to complete a full marathon in under two hours. Records were smashed as the Kenyan long-distance runner crossed the finish line in Vienna, Austria in 1:59:40.2, an incredible achievement backed as part of the Ineos 1:59 Challenge: "INEOS believes in supporting and challenging individuals, working with experts and creating brilliantly effective teams. We have also always believed that being physically active is an essential ingredient to a happy and healthy life," reads the accompanying statement.

The America’s Cup - the oldest international sporting trophy - is on the horizon, with INEOS Team UK formed by the Englishman to challenge for the 36th’s edition in 2021. In October 2019, after 90,000 design and 50,000 construction hours, INEOS’ Launch Race Boat 1 ‘Britannia’ was christened by Jim’s daughter Julia.

The ever growing sports empire is turning into a bit of a family affair.

In 2017, INEOS bought Swiss Super League football team FC Lausanne-Sport, with his brother Bob appointed President in March 2019. The club now has youth training academies in Africa. Their first signing was Enzo Zidane on a three-year-deal, and yes, if that name rings a bell, we are talking about the son of World Cup winner Zinedine. Unfortunately, the first season under the INEOS umbrella ended in relegation to the second-division Challenge League. 

Though a purported Manchester United supporter, in 2019 it was reported that Ratcliffe was interested in purchasing the Red Devils’ Premier League rivals Chelsea from Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, a man Ratcliffe is worth more than double than. Though that didn’t come into fruition, with suggestions that a proposed move from Stamford Bridge as well as Abramovich’s reluctance proved detrimental, another high-profile club in the INEOS roster soon followed: Ligue 1 outfit OFC Nice. 

“Our ambition is to compete for the top four places in Ligue 1,” Bob Ratcliffe outlined upon the takeover in August 2019 “Our target will to be in the Champions League in between three to five seasons...We’re very excited about the project ahead of us.”

Sir Jim Ratcliffe himself is not a backseat driver when it comes to sports. He has endured gruelling marathons including the 90k Comrades in South Africa, and motorcycle through the continent of Africa. Ratcliffe has also ventured on expeditions to the North and South Pole and is the founder of charity Go Run for Fun and The Daily Mile, both of which encourage children to be more active through running events.

INEOS, formed over two decades ago, is in the top 50 biggest companies in the world: starting with 200 million in revenues and working its way up to 60 billion by 2019. 

And you’ll be using it more than you like, albeit unintentionally. The petrochemicals INEOS manufactures can be found in plastics for food packaging, with the majority of its produce in fuels and lubricants.It owns 171 manufacturing facilities, across 24 countries which supply to markets all over the world, producing around 60 tonnes of assorted product a year.

Its name ‘INEOS’ itself has dual meaning: the company’s previous name was Inspec Ethylene Oxide Specialities. However, it is also a combination of ‘Ineo’, Latin for new beginning and ‘Eos’, the Greek goddess of dawn. 

‘Neos’ ultimately is appropriated to ‘the dawn of something new and innovative’.

With these continuous expansions into sport, that’s surely Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s intention.