McLaren-Mercedes has announced an extension to its 'corporate partnership' with Santander, even though the Spanish banking giant confirmed a deal with arch rivals Ferrari last week, on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix.

The agreement will see Santander branding present on all four McLaren Mercedes drivers in 2010. It was not confirmed how long the deal is for - although the Scuderia's is for a five-year period, and a spokesperson told Crash.net that this is also a 'multi-year arrangement'.

"We are extremely pleased to have extended our hugely successful global partnership with Santander," said McLaren team boss, Martin Whitmarsh. "As one of the world's leading banks with a significant presence in Europe, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and the United States and other countries, Santander is a great 'fit' with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and our triumphs on the global stage of F1.

"The year 2009 marks Santander's third season of association with our sport, and during this time they have successfully title-sponsored three of the most prestigious and historic races: the British, German and Italian Grands Prix.

"We are very proud of our relationship with Santander and to be part of their ever-expanding F1 involvement. We welcome, and wish them well with, their other activities - including, but not limited to, the afore-mentioned race sponsorships."

The deal coincides with the Santander Group's move to bring together Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley to operate under the single Santander brand.

"Since its inauguration in 2007, our corporate partnership with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been extremely successful, especially in the UK, which is why we are delighted that we will continue to develop our alliance with the UK's number-one F1 team for the benefit of our 20 million UK clients," continued Ant?nio Horta-Os?rio, Abbey's chief executive.

"The year 2010 will create a newly-refreshed scenario for Santander in terms of F1 sponsorship," added Juan Manuel Cendoya, senior vice president of communications, corporate marketing and research.

"Our continuing partnership with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes - and especially with Lewis Hamilton - will fit very well with our ongoing development of the Santander brand, not only in the UK but globally too."

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile is enthusiastic about continuing to fly the flag for Santander: "Some of the most enjoyable activities I have ever done off track during my F1 career have been with Santander. Everything we do together is always thinking outside of the box, and I am looking forward to continuing that work together with them and the team," he stated.

"Over the past couple of years we have filmed some great TV ads - one of them turned me into an Airfix kit and then in the other I got to play on a life-sized Scalextric set!

"The Santander people are very cool and push home the value and strength of teamwork. With Santander I have also had the opportunity to attend some events in Spain. I love racing in Spain, too - Spanish motorsport fans are always so enthusiastic."

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