Sponsorship deal up in flames as Petrobras dumps McLaren

Formula 1 racing team McLaren has officially confirmed that its sponsorship deal with Petrobras, the Brazilian fuel and oil company, has been terminated with immediate effect. 

The news, which was reported back in October, comes after Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro announced earlier this year that he wanted the original five year agreement to end, with the sponsorship now being officially terminated mere weeks before the Brazilian Grand Prix. 

McLaren CEO Zak Brown thanked Petrobras for its brief but progressive partnership: “We would like to thank Petrobras for their partnership and support. We have great respect for their technical and scientific capabilities, and there is no doubt the company’s technicians have made substantial progress in the time we have been working together. We wish everyone at Petrobras every success and hope to see them back in the sport again in the future.”

As a result of the announcement the McLaren racing team will be without the Petrobras logo for the race at Interlagos, with the team’s CEO also stating that the team would be adding more sponsors ahead of the 2020 season. 

Roberto Castello Branco, Petrobras CEO, added: “We recognise the importance of McLaren in global motorsport and we are very satisfied with the results delivered during the two years of our partnership. The project allowed Petrobras to develop high-technology gasoline and lubricants through research with new raw materials and tests performed in extreme conditions. The technological development will be used in lubricant and fuel products. We see in McLaren a commitment to innovation and also the possibility of future partnerships.”

Petrobras, which is majority owned by the Brazilian government, has revealed that on-track performances were not taken into consideration when deciding to terminate the partnership with McLaren.

Insider Insight: The announcement of the contract termination now leaves McLaren without a major sponsor for the conclusion of the current F1 season and needing to fill a void ahead of the 2020 season that they wouldn’t have planned for. 

As a result McLaren, who currently sit in fourth place in the constructor’s championship, could see this off-track distraction have a negative effect on its performance and could culminate in its position as ‘best of the rest’ come under serious threat next season as the undistracted Renault racing team look primed and ready to challenge.