Petrobras returns to F1 with McLaren as Sauber unveils new sponsors
McLaren, the UK-based Formula 1 motor racing team, has signed a technical partnership with Petrobras for the Brazilian fuel giant to develop high-performance fuel and lubricants.
McLaren added that “the partnership may be extended to other strategic areas, such as the sharing of technologies between the parties. The Petrobras brand will be displayed on the team’s cars, uniforms and physical facilities.”
Petrobras was previously a sponsor of the rival Williams Formula 1 team, but departed from the series in 2016. The company has a long heritage in the sport, supporting Brazilian star Ayrton Senna when he won three world drivers' titles for McLaren between 1988 and 1991.
McLaren, which previously used fuel and lubricants from Castrol, has struggled for both results and sponsorship in recent seasons, finishing a lowly ninth, out of 10, in the constructors' championship in 2017.
However, it begins the 2018 campaign with a new engine supplier, Renault, after four difficult years with Honda.
Earlier this month, the team announced a sponsorship deal with Dell Technologies, the US-based computer technology company.
Under the terms of the ‘long-term’ agreement, Dell will supply both hardware and software to the team and its ‘Applied Technologies’ division, while it will also support the World Fastest Gamer, McLaren’s eSports programme, with technological expertise.
Zak Brown, executive director, McLaren Technology Group (pictured), said of the Petrobras deal: “Brazil’s passion for Formula 1 is legendary and the country has produced some of the most iconic names in Formula 1 history. We are delighted to deepen our relationship with Brazilian F1 fans through our partnership with Petrobras, a flagship brand for the nation. Petrobras is an ambitious organisation and we look forward to McLaren being an accelerator and enhancer in their brand-building efforts.”
Pedro Parente, Petrobras’s chief executive, added: “Partnerships are strategic for Petrobras. The technologies developed for Formula 1 will be transferred to the products we offer our customers, and being at the forefront of fuel and lubricant development is of value to our company, its shareholders and customers.”
In the last week, Brown has reiterated that McLaren does not expect to sign up a title sponsor in 2018, albeit there would be "another one or two" new partners before the start of the season in Australia next month.
The team has not had a title sponsor since telecoms giant Vodafone pulled out at the end of the 2013 season, and it was initially acknowledged that the vacancy needed to be filled.
Brown told motorsport.com: "I don't think we will have a principal partner going into this season. We definitely want one. Our business ramp-up is one where we want to get back to where we were in sponsorship over a three-to-four-year period.
"We are on target for our financial goals for sponsorship revenue for this year, and I think again that will just build momentum."
An in-depth Sportcal Insight interview with Zak Brown can be found here.
Meanwhile, the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team has announced four new sponsors for the 2018 season.
Switzerland-based Sauber, which unveiled its new C37 car on Tuesday, has signed up Richard Mille, the Swiss luxury watchmaker, Claro, the subsidiary of Latin American telecoms giant America Movil, and Carrera, the Italy-based eyewear brand, as second-tier premium partners, and Kappa, the Italian sportswear firm, as a third-tier official partner.
Alfa Romeo, the Italian automotive company, has returned to Formula 1 this year as the title sponsor of Sauber, which finished last in the world championship in 2017.