Jul.16 (GMM) Almost half of the world's biggest 25 companies have been involved in Formula One in the past five years.

And the new research by F1's industry monitor Formula Money said a third of the world's 100 top companies have in the same period been involved in F1 as sponsors, owners or investors.

They include three of the world's five biggest companies -- Ferrari sponsor Shell, Exxon Mobil (McLaren) and former Chinese Grand Prix backer Sinopec.

Journalist Christian Sylt said oil companies and carmakers are "naturally drawn to F1 due to the obvious affinity between the sport and their businesses".

The banking industry is also attracted to F1 "by the networking opportunities offered by the sport", Sylt added.

The other top-25 companies involved in F1 recently are Toyota (8th), Red Bull and Lotus sponsor Total (11th), Toro Rosso supplier Volkswagen (13th), Caterham backer General Electric (16th), former Renault sponsor ING (17th), Samsung (22nd), ENI (23rd) and Mercedes owner Daimler (24th).

"The involvement of so many major companies is one of the factors that distinguishes F1 from other sports," continued Sylt.

American companies, like former Williams title sponsor AT-T, are also playing a big role, making up 17 per cent of the teams' sponsors -- the highest of any nationality.