Williams Racing’s title sponsor, Martini, will not extend its current contract with the Grove-based squad.
The Italian drinks brand, which will mark its fiftieth anniversary since first becoming a motorsport sponsor, is not moving to another team and will reportedly exit Formula 1 altogether.
Having been the Brabham team’s title sponsor between 1975 and 1977, the company’s iconic stripes returned to Formula 1 as Williams’ title sponsor in 2014.
“Martini are leaving us at the end of this year,” Williams’ Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams confirmed.
“It’s the end of their contract; we have been in discussion with them for many months now about an extension beyond 2018, as you would expect.
“They’ve been a really important partner of ours for the past five years and we were incredibly lucky they chose to join the team in 2013, when we were ninth, so to be able to attract a title partner like Martini in our position was pretty impressive and showed a lot of faith on their part.
“They’ve had a very successful time with us, they achieved their objectives; every brand is entitled to evolve their marketing objectives over time and that’s what Martini is doing.”
While Martini’s logos assumed a prominent position on the Williams cars, the sponsorship deal itself was relatively low-value compared to previous title sponsorship deals the team has secured. That is not a surprise given the team’s poor negotiating position at the time of the contract commencing, when the team was a lowly ninth in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Williams stressed that the team’s finances would not be jeopardised by Martini’s exit – it is known that the team’s current drivers Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin collectively bring over $50 million in funding to the team per year.
“I don’t want to sit there going ‘ooh now we’re looking for a title partner’ as it’s not about looking for a title partner it’s about ensuring we have the budget we need to go racing,” Williams added.
“Whether that comes from a new title partner coming on board or a group of other partners we’ll have to wait and see how the situation evolves.
“Everyone can see our results, being a listed company; we’re financially stable at the moment, I can’t talk too much about it as we’re in a closed period but were not unduly concerned by them leaving at the end of the year.”
Image via Williams Martini Racing (LAT)
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