20 November 2013
Brazilian Grand Prix: End of an era for McLaren in Brazil
McLaren readies for the end of an era in Brazil in its final race in Vodafone colours
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh admits that the Brazilian Grand Prix will be the 'end of an era' for McLaren as it brings the curtain down on its long-time partnership with Vodafone at Interlagos.
The mobile communications company has been title sponsor of the Woking-based team since 2007 but will bow out following the Brazilian race, with the team set to unveil a replacement early next year when it launches its 2014 challenger.
The current partnership will end at the venue where McLaren took the title in dramatic fashion with Lewis Hamilton back in 2008 – the only championship crown won under Vodafone's sponsorship deal.
“For everyone in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, the Brazilian Grand Prix marks the end of another era – it will be the last grand prix of Vodafone's title partnership with us,” Whitmarsh admitted. “Vodafone will step away from that title partnership after having spent seven fantastic seasons with us – during which time we won one world championship and 34 grands prix together, and also took 30 pole positions and 24 fastest laps.
“We also take home a lot of wonderful shared memories, some of which we'll cherish for the rest of our lives. Speaking for myself, I'll certainly never forget the emotional rollercoaster that I found myself on, sitting on the pitwall here at Interlagos, five years ago, as we won the world championship on the very last corner of the very last lap of the very last race.
“Thank you, Vodafone. Power to you!”
Having taken more than half of his F1 wins in a Vodafone-backed car, Jenson Button admitted he was sad to see the relationship now coming to an end – ironically at the circuit where he took his last victory in the 2012 season finale.
“Obviously, I have some extremely happy memories of racing in Brazil – it's where I won my world championship, back in 2009, and it's where I took my most recent grand prix win, last year for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,” he said. “This year has been a tricky one, though, and it'll be tough heading back to Sao Paulo knowing that the team hasn't taken a victory since race day last year, but to be honest that only makes me more determined to end the season on a positive note
“Finally, Brazil will be my final race in Vodafone overalls. I've won eight grands prix in our title partner's famous rocket-red colours, I've driven some of the best cars of my F1 career during my association with them, and I've done some incredible things with them too – like driving an F1 car around Mount Panorama, one of my lifelong ambitions. Vodafone has played such a major part in the success of our team over the last seven seasons, and, while I'll be sad to see them leave, I'll always be proud of the successes we enjoyed together.”
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