F1 Sponsorship: McLaren to end Vodafone Deal at the end of the year
Earlier in the year it was announced that Vodafone will be terminating their deal as title sponsor of McLaren, and taking with it the £40 million in sponsorship the telecoms giant paid to the team every year.
The pull out hasn’t been fully explained, but the main justification was said to be Vodafone’s attempts to scale back their involvement in sport, and given that they also pulled their contracts with the England cricket team, the Champions League and Manchester United, it’s clear they weren’t lying; though you have to suspect that the performance of the team over recent years may have made the decision easier.
While not quite as long standing a relationship as MotoGP Repsol Honda (Vodafone’s seven years to Respol’s nineteen), the red and silver car, and red and white overalls have become an iconic livery, and one of the most well known in motorsport.
At the start of the partnership in 2007, things couldn’t have looked better. McLaren had secured both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. One, a two time World Champion, the other an extremely exciting young hopeful.
In that first season, Vodafone must have been rubbing their hands together with glee. A season long battle of highs and lows (on and off track) between the two teammates – almost reminiscent of Senna and Prost – saw the pair finish on equal points at the close of the season, and being beaten to the championship by just one point by Kimi Raikkonen.
2008 brought more brand awareness for Vodafone, with Lewis Hamilton picking up right back where he left off in the previous season – winning races. He took the first race win of the year, and after a season of relative consistency and five more wins, he clinched the title by one point after making up one more place on the final corner of the last lap of the last race of the year.
From 2009 though, things weren’t as rosie for Vodafone McLaren, and through a combination of a lack in performance and reliability issues, Lewis was unable to challenge for the title over a whole season, finishing no higher than 4th in the standings since 2009, and only being beaten by his teammate once in 2011 when Jenson Button finished second.
It was more than likely these lacklustre results that made Vodafone’s decision to pull out that much easier, and now McLaren are in a difficult position to find a sponsor to fill the void Vodafone have left.
Let’s hope they fill it and keep one of the most well-known racing teams in the world going.
Editorial Staff RTR Sports Pictures from the web