McLaren-Honda has signed a new 10-year deal with luxury watchmaking brand Richard Mille, after losing its TAG-Heuer partnership who switches to Red Bull.
The Swiss brand, which began making watches in 2001, has agreed a sponsorship deal with McLaren which will run until 2026.
Drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will wear the Richard Mille timepieces and its branding appearing on the new MP4-31 car which is set to be launched this weekend before the opening F1 pre-season test at Circuit de Catalunya (22-26 February).
At the end of last season McLaren lost its long term partnership with watchmakers TAG-Heuer who switched alliances to Red Bull as it puts its name to the team's power unit for 2016.
Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of McLaren technology group, says he gladly welcomes Richard Mille to the Woking-based team with the new 10-year deal and feels the two share a common bond.
“I've watched with quiet admiration as Richard and his team have built up the Richard Mille brand over the past 15 years,” Dennis said. “To have established himself at the vanguard of the watchmaking world in such a short space of time is an incredible achievement, and a testament to his vision and determination.
“For him to commit Richard Mille to a 10-year partnership with McLaren underlines our shared belief in the value of long-term agreements, and the benefits that can be derived from growing and developing together.”
Richard Mille, chairman and CEO of the company, says the opportunity to partner McLaren came at an ideal time and looks forward to working closely with the British squad.
“The chance to partner with McLaren is particularly timely, we've been evaluating Formula 1 on a restricted basis for several years, but this opportunity has enabled us to engage in a deeper, more meaningful way, with proper focus and effort directed on a major team,” Mille said. “For me, the association with McLaren is so striking, because I still vividly remember, back in 1981, when McLaren was the first constructor to introduce an all-carbonfibre monocoque to Formula 1. It was a technology that would revolutionise the sport – and still does to this day.
“Years later, I was able to adopt the same technical solution – a carbonfibre structure – for the baseplates of our watch movements and cases.”
Richard Mille had previously backed the former Lotus F1 squad as well as supporting the late Jules Bianchi as a personal sponsor.