Reports in Spain are suggesting Spanish sponsor Mutua Madrilena will follow former double Formula 1
World Champion Fernando Alonso
away from McLaren-Mercedes and back to Renault.
The Madrid-based insurance company joined the top flight with Renault
in early 2005, electing to move with Alonso to Renault
at the end of the following year. According to Paddock Talk<.I>, it has now once more decided to track the 26-year-old's footsteps by returning to its erstwhile team after negotiating a premature end to its multi-year contract with McLaren, though in a statement Mutua Madrilena insisted the latest move had not been pre-empted by that of Alonso last month.
Mutua Madrilena's sponsorship value has been estimated at $5 million USD per season, and in 2007 that included branding on the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-22's front wing endplates, drivers' sleeves and helmets. The new deal is believed to include terms for the company to be represented on the livery of the 2008-spec Renault R28.
For the first time in over a decade in 2008, Spain will host two F1 races, with the traditional Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona in May being joined by the European Grand Prix around a new street circuit in Valencia in late August. The country previously hosted two races back in 1997, at Barcelona and Jerez.