22 January 2014
No title sponsor but bigger F1 budget for McLaren in 2014
McLaren is unlikely to reveal a replacement for Vodafone when it unveils its 2014 F1 contender on Friday.
McLaren will launch its 2014 F1 contender without a replacement for out-going title sponsor Vodafone, but will head into the new season with more money with which to take on Red Bull and Ferrari.
The Woking team has become synonymous with telecoms giant Vodafone over the past seven seasons, but is likely to start the new campaign without a title sponsor despite talks with several potential replacements. The MP4-29, which has now passed the mandatory FIA crash tests, will be the first car built to the new 2014 regulations when the covers come off on an online launch this Friday [24 January], but may debut in traditional McLaren orange rather than the colours of a commercial partner.
"We won't be announcing a new title partner when we launch our new MP4-29," managing director Jonathan Neale told pitpass.com, “but our roster of sponsors remains the envy of the pit-lane. For example, Hugo Boss has been with us for 33 years, Tag Heuer has been with us for 29 years, Mobil 1 has been with us for 20 years and SAP has been with us for 16 years. More recently, we've added equally important blue-chip partners such as Santander, GSK, Johnnie Walker and Hilton.”
Despite confirming that Vodafone - which was understood to provide as much as $75m a season to the fighting fund - had decided to 'focus their energies on non-F1 avenues of marketing spend having achieved all their objectives with their partnership with us', Neale insisted that McLaren was in good shape for 2014, when it will attempt to erase memories of a 2013 season in which it failed to reach the podium.
“Our shareholders don't take dividends,” he continued, “Instead, they're motivated by the desire to make the McLaren Group an even greater and even more successful powerhouse of technical innovation than it is already. [As a result,] I'm pleased to say that McLaren Racing will have a larger operational budget available to it in 2014 than it's had in any previous season in McLaren's history.”
McLaren struggled to overcome the similarly-powered Force India team in the early part of 2013, trailing the midfield regular in the battle for fifth place in the constructors' championship before Pirelli's mid-season change of thinking on tyres appeared to hamper the Silverstone-based outfit. McLaren proved unable to turn its own fortunes around, however, with the MP4-28 uncompetitive in comparison to the offerings from Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus.
The Woking team, which has not won a world title since Lewis Hamilton triumphed in 2008, heads into the new season with Jenson Button joined by rookie Kevin Magnussen on the driving strength.
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