McLaren Racing, the motor racing arm of the British car manufacturer, has announced a strategic partnership with Neom that will see the Saudi eco-city project serve as the title sponsor of its electric racing teams.
McLaren is due to make its debut in Formula E, the all-electric racing series, later this year after announcing its acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ outfit in May. The team first struck an agreement with Formula E to join the championship for the Gen3 era in January 2021.
Earlier this year, McLaren also debuted in Extreme E for the 2022 season.
Neom, a new sustainable city in northwest Saudi Arabia currently under construction, is funded by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 program. It has previously been a partner with the Mercedes Formula E team.
The partnership will see the teams officially named Neom McLaren Formula E Team and Neom McLaren Extreme E, which will operate under the combined banner of Neom McLaren Electric Racing. Prominent Neom branding will also feature on both cars throughout the partnership.
As part of the agreement, around 20 candidates from Saudi Arabia will be given a one-year placement at McLaren Racing as part of Neom’s ‘graduate opportunities in work’ scheme.
Zak Brown, McLaren Racing chief executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Neom to the McLaren Racing family. This is an incredible way to kick off our entry into Formula E and to unify our electric racing series.
“We are thrilled to introduce Neom McLaren Electric Racing and to work with Neom to nurture talent and drive innovation.”
The new partnership marks the latest move by Saudi Arabia to increase its foothold in motorsport after securing a long-term deal with Formula 1 to host a grand prix, the first of which was staged last year.
PIF already has ties to the McLaren Group, contributing to a £550 million ($750 million) equity raise last year. The deal included £400 million of new capital from PIF and global investment firm Ares Management, with £150 million being injected into the company by McLaren’s existing shareholders, which includes Mumtalakat, the sovereign investment fund of Bahrain.
The kingdom also has significant sponsorship deals in the sport through state-owned oil company Aramco, which is a title partner of Formula 1. The company also holds naming rights to the Aston Martin Formula 1 motor racing team in a deal struck in February.
Nadhmi Al-Nasr, the chief executive of Neom, said: “Our partnership with McLaren Racing complements Neom’s commitment to driving sustainable solutions and tackling some of society’s most pressing challenges.
“The partnership will allow us to share our collective resources and experience to yield exciting results, not only for our own organizations but also for the broader automotive and sports industries.”
The new season will be the ninth for Formula E and the first of the new Gen3 era, which will see faster, more powerful cars introduced.
The McLaren Formula E Team is being led by Ian James, the former team principal of Mercedes-EQ Formula E. It sits alongside the prestigious Formula 1 series, the US-basted IndyCar series, and the Extreme E electric SUV series in the team’s portfolio.
On Friday, McLaren announced a partnership with Nissan that will see the Japanese car manufacturer supply the electric drive system for McLaren’s Gen3-era Formula E car. Nissan also competes in Formula E under its own name after acquiring the e.dam racing team.