23 September 2015
McLaren ‘working hard’ to address financial shortfall
Eric Boullier says he is '99.9 per cent' certain that an announcement is imminent regarding McLaren's F1 sponsorship portfolio.
McLaren says it is hopeful of being able to announce some positive news regarding potential sponsors before the end of the 2015 F1 season.
The beleaguered Woking outfit is set to take a big hit in income derived from its results on track this year and, with few noticeable backers on the MP4-30, openly admits that it is facing a financial shortfall compared to previous campaigns.
Having finished an uncharacteristic fifth in the 2014 constructors' standings, McLaren is on course to do even worse this year, currently sitting ninth of ten teams after a disastrous first season back in the arms of Honda. With only the scoreless Manor team beneath it, the fallen giant admits that it is in an unenviable situation, with the expected drop in FOM money going hand-in-hand with results that aren't exactly attractive to potential sponsors.
Although Johnnie Walker and SAP remain on board, the past two seasons have seen largely barren McLarens taking to the track, with assorted ExxonMobil brand 'liveries' revolving in 2014 and a change from the familiar chrome paint scheme to a more dour black the main talking point for the current campaign.
Although it is only nine points behind nearest rival Sauber after last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, McLaren has not scored since Hungary and posted its fourth double DNF of the season on the streets of Marina Bay, leading racing director Eric Boullier to acknowledge the difficult times that could lay ahead.
“As a partner, obviously we have to address this scenario next year,” the Frenchman conceded, “If we are not finishing in the right ranking in the championship, we will lose some direct FOM monies and we will have to find a way to replace it. We are working hard and, obviously, we have to find sponsors.”
With no immediate improvement in Honda's performance on the horizon, and with veteran Jenson Button expected to announce his retirement as an F1 driver, possibly at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, the off-season will be a crucial one for McLaren, but Boullier is confident that there will be good news to report before too long.
“As a team, we are working hard to improve our sponsorship folio and, [while] I cannot guarantee you 100 per cent, [I would say] 99.9% that there will be some announcement soon,” he claimed as the F1 circus prepared to decamp from Singapore to Suzuka.”
Heading to Honda's home race this weekend ties in with Boullier's suggestion that an announcement is imminent, although team owner Ron Dennis played dumb when asked about potential Chinese investment at the Singapore race last Sunday. Boullier would also not confirm suggestions that McLaren's engine partner was preparing to step up its involvement.
“I'm not saying it's going to be Honda, we have to do it,” he said, “There are other mechanisms, but we are going to address this if it happens.”
Current McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen or GP2 Series champion-elect Stoffel Vandoorne are expected to replace Button should the Briton announce his expected exit from F1.
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