Scuderia Toro Rosso took the wraps off a new sponsor at last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, even as a former partner turned up adorning the cars of rival Sauber.
Toro Rosso had been backed by Liechtenstein-based finance company Money Service Group for just a year when its logos 'went missing' from the cars in Turkey. However, despite suggestions that the matter was now in the hands of the team's lawyers, the two Sauber C30's appeared in Barcelona with Money Service Group decals, the two having entered into a 'long-term agreement'.
As an official partner, Money Service Group will receive branding opportunities on Sauber's team trucks, pit lane apparatus, team gear and other equipment. Although no official word of a value has been given, the initial season-long deal is likely to have cost Money Service Group somewhere between US$200,000 and US$300,000. The company is just one of a growing list of sponsors attracted by Sauber, which spent 2010 running largely unbranded cars, with Mexican companies Telmex, Cuervo Tequila and Interproteccion all signing up along with rookie driver Sergio Perez. The Toro Rosso deal was believed to be worth US$1m but, according to Sports Pro Media
, also included on-car branding.
“We have already gleaned a year of positive experience in F1 and have now entered a new partnership with the Sauber F1 Team, not least on account of our regional proximity," owner and founder Michael Seidl confirmed, "I am impressed by Peter Sauber's courage and single-mindedness and have no doubt that we make a good match as partners.”
Perez re-opened his F1 points account with ninth place in Spain - having been disqualified from the top ten on his debut in Australia - while team-mate Kamui Kobayashi also added to the team's tally in tenth.
Toro Rosso, meanwhile, announced a new sponsorship deal with, ironically, Swiss financial company Falcon Private Bank, whose logo will appear on the overalls worn by drivers Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, and on the nose and front wing endplates of the STR6. The backer joins Red Bull, Volkswagen Italy, Advanti Racing and Siemens among the team's supporters, and replaces Red Bull Mobile on the endplates - a deal worth a reported US$200,000 last season and rumoured to be more this year.
Both Toro Rosso drivers missed out on a points finish, with Buemi 14th and Alguersuari 16th in Barcelona.