Much has been made of the 'Hamilton factor' following Lewis Hamilton's eye-opening arrival in Formula One, but among those benefiting from his whirlwind rise to the top are sponsors of his McLaren Mercedes team.

While Silverstone and television stations have both attributed greater interest in Formula One this season to the Briton's instant success - which has seen him win two of the first seven races and not yet finish off the podium en route to topping the points table - McLaren's title backer, Vodafone, is also reporting an upturn in fortunes.

According to BritSport, the telecom company's brand association with F1 was higher after the first four or five races of the 2007 season than at any time last year, despite seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher carrying its logos. The German almost clinched an eighth title in a Vodafone-sponsored Ferrari, but Hamilton's success, and his battle with two-time champion Fernando Alonso - has seen recognition of the company's involvement soar following its switch to the McLaren team.

Analysts have pointed out that this rise will have been due to a combination of increased interest in the sport brought about by Hamilton's arrival and his battle with Alonso and Ferrari, but also by the increased media exposure that the association has provoked.

Interestingly, the same report reveals that, according to Ipsos MORI data, Marlboro still gains one of the highest brand associations with F1 - despite the ban on tobacco sponsorship in many F1 markets.



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