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It will be a little strange to see the McLaren’s take the grid in Australia next week without “Vodafone” on the sidepod. It will be even stranger to see nothing on their sidepod—no sponsor name at all.

The lack of a title sponsor for a team like McLaren has some undertow or message to it and according to Ron Dennis, it may be the team’s lack of performance last year that has soiled the price tag:

“Inevitably when you have a run of poor results, people try and push the rate card down,” he said of the sponsorship negotiations,” said Dennis.

“I won’t accept that. I know what this company is and what it’s grand prix team can achieve. And that requires the correct recognition when it comes to the commercial relationship with a principal sponsor.

“We are negotiating with several partners at the moment and I think it will happen sooner rather than later.”

There must be something going on at the negotiating table because a team like Williams Martini Racing just secured the Italian spirits maker and they had an even worse season than McLaren in 2013.

It would seem that the economic weight of the global financial situation is creating the challenges of big-ticket sponsorship deals for F1 teams. There are other nuances in the McLaren equation as well. One of those is the looming partnership with Honda in 2016.

Finding a title sponsor that is a harmonious party to the McLaren and Honda brand will be important. Dennis said the team avoided trying to din stopgap sponsors for a year and are looking for long-term relationships.

The team will field both cars with no title sponsor but Dennis believe one will appear over the next few races. In the end, it doesn’t really matter much as the F1 team isn’t responsible for making a profit. Dennis said:

“The Formula One team has no responsibilities for income,” he said. “So the new model for our Formula One team is that its completely populated by people who have no other objective but winning in Formula One.

“Effectively the mindset of the Formula One team is they provide to the marketing company a car devoid of branding. They have no responsibility for income…it’s a much more focused model,”

Well that’s good because it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon given the massive costs of the new 2014 regulations and a lack of a main sponsor.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • I’ll kick in $100 towards F1blog sponsoring them.

    • LOL…sweet! I imagine Ron and I would have a lot to talk about if we were the title sponsor. First topic would be to take the duct tape off of Martin Whitmarsh’s mouth and untie his hand and let him out of the broom closet. Second thing would be which football team does he support and why. :)

  • MIE

    Will the cars be orange in Australia?

    • Tom Firth

      I wish :)

    • mini696

      I wish too.

  • Tom Firth

    It’s a shame and very concerning that Mclaren has no title sponsor to me. The question is why ?

    As much as I agree with you that the incoming Honda supply Mclaren having a tough season, I also agree that other factors must be present too in my opinion.

    The cars still gathered alot of exposure last year through television and other outlets despite lacking some performance. so does that really have an effect on acquiring sponsors, with a team of Mclaren’s legacy if the eyeballs are still focused on the teams cars ?

    Is this really the true effect of Mclaren losing Lewis and then Perez ? both of them had a greater attraction to sponsors than Jenson and that’s not aimed to criticize Button.

  • jonnowoody

    Late breaking news – ” We are proud to announce the Dust-Buster Mclaren Mercedes Team for 4014″