McLaren to lose Vodafone title sponsorship

2013 F1 season

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McLaren have confirmed their title sponsorship arrangement with Vodafone will conclude at the end of this year.

The team said Vodafone “has decided to focus on business priorities away from Formula One sponsorship”.

McLaren added it would not confirm the identity of its new title sponsor but “will make an exciting announcement on 2nd December 2013, following the last Grand Prix of the season”.

“We’re immensely proud that, having been set a number of ambitious challenges by Vodafone back in 2007, together we’ve met or exceeded each and every one,” said team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

“Our focus is on continuing to drive results for all our partners throughout the 2013 season and we look forward to making a major title partnership announcement towards the end of the year.”

Vodafone has been McLaren’s title sponsor since 2007 (pictured). Prior to that it was a sponsor of Ferrari.

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Image © McLaren

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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123 comments on “McLaren to lose Vodafone title sponsorship”

  1. So, with Honda presumably being the engine supplier for McLaren in 2015, it seems we’ll see a radically different looking car that year, and a mostly different one next year.

    1. @goodyear92 I wonder if we might get a glimpse of McLaren orange as an interim livery again, as we had in 1997 (when West replaced Marlboro) and 2005 (after West departed).

      They painted one of their recent cars in a metallic version of their classic orange last year.

      1. I hope they do. Although with winter testing only happening in the new year (after the sponsors are announced) there is little need for it.

        1. sanrio (the owners of hello kitty) are rumoured to be considering sponsorship, I kid you not!

      2. Honestly, I think the yellow-orange is over-rated, really rather ugly, and almost impossible to match with a sponsor colour. Maybe it would workas a secondary or tertiary color, but not as the main colour.

        1. These photos look a bit off because of excessive HDR, but the colour of this MP4-12C Spider is very nice. No offence PM, but how can you comment on whether colours are ugly or not, if you can’t actually see them?

          I saw it through the colour-blind web page filter and sure, it’s not pretty. I also saw the latest Catheram using the same filter, and their green doesn’t look good either, but guess what: this isn’t how these colours appear to most of us. It’s not how they actually look like.

          By the way, it’s possible to incorporate sponsor logos without using their colours. Just look at Lotus. All of their sponsors, except for Total, are gold on black, and they seem to be fine with that.

          I think that the return of orange McLarens is possible regardless of their title sponsor. I also suspect that this change would be welcomed by fans.

          1. @maroonjack – My colour-blindness only works with certain combinations of colours. Green has to be involved. Individual colours are no problem.

          2. @prisoner-monkeys Just out of curiosity: which kind is it? Protanopia, deuteranopia, tritanopia, or something else?

            As far as I know it doesn’t actually matter which cones are affected, it distorts your perception of the whole colour range. This is especially true when we talk about the M cones (aka “green cones”), because their responsivity spectrum lies in the middle and significantly overlaps the spectra of S and L cones. At least that’s what I remember from my graphic design classes dealing with human visual perception.

          3. @maroonjack

            Lets keep on the topic of F1, and off the topic of posters personal life.

          4. That is a point with these colors though. When I first saw a McLaren car in real life I was amazed at how weird the color looked. They picked some oddly fluorescent red (pink almost) so the color would look like Marlboro red on TV. Same with Ferrari (to a lesser degree).

            Orange would probably have the same problem as shown in this photo. It looks almost red.

            Looking ofor “orange tinted” sponsors, they could try to go with ING again. They have a big campaign about being orange and their orange always clashed with the yellow and blue of Renault.

            ING was really happy sponsoring F1. They made back their money already in deals done during race weekends. Unfortunately the general public doesn’t understand sponsoring and therefore assumes it’s just a waste of money. I doubt ING will be allowed to make money off of sponsoring F1 again.

          5. @mike We’re discussing car liveries, so it’s definitely F1 related. PM brought up his colour-blindness a couple of times in similar discussions. He seems to be open about it, I find it quite interesting and I’d still like to know more about it. I often use colour-blindness simulators when I design websites, brochures, posters etc. I definitely meant no offence with my questions and I hope that no one was offended.

          6. They’re still horrible colours, and difficult to match to any sponsor colours.

        1. My 1st exposure to the team was with their CanAm cars of the late 60’s, early 70’s, and for me, that color IS McLaren!

  2. I won’t sleep until 2nd December with all this excitment coming from announcement in 10 months time. Thank you Martin for ruining my life.

    1. That’s what is F1 all about mate ;-)

  3. Honda. Nuff said…

    1. I doubt Honda will be title sponsor of McLaren in 2014 while they’re still running Mercedes engines.

      1. maybe they won’t!?

        1. They are. Honda won’t have an engine ready for 2014.

          1. I bet the Honda Advanced Research arm keeps abreast of F1 Regs. There is also the rumour that Honda have employed ex Ferrari engine guy Gilles Simon to take over the Pure Racing engine programme which was already at an advanced stage when Pollock had to call time on it due to funding. Also, I find it more than coincidental that when the Honda rumour first surfaced over a year ago Martin Whitmarsh denied it vehemently and then promptly visited the Pure factory to see how their engine was coming along.

          2. promptly visited the Pure factory to see how their engine was coming along.

            Citation needed! :D

          3. Honda Mclaren Mercedes xD

  4. So… they will announce their sponsor in December, which implies they’ve already made the deal… that’s just mean. I get that they made the deal with some company, whose name isn’t revealed because of the current Vodafone deal, but why would you make public that you will announce something in 10 months time?

    1. @andae23

      why would you make public that you will announce something in 10 months time?

      I would say it’s to take the edge of the ‘doom and gloom’ stories. This is their third big loss in six months: Lewis Hamilton, Paddy Lowe, Vodafone.

      1. @keithcollantine But why just not announce the loss of Vodafone in the first place? For instance: in November they announce “No more Vodafone, but we will announce the new sponsor soon!” and then in December”After the loss of Vodafone, tadaaa – this is our new sponsor!” – makes a lot more sense.

        1. Because by announcing the loss of V-fone while revealing that they’ve already got a replacement sorted, it might also open additional sponsorship opportunities w/ firms that for some reason might’ve been averse or unable to join w/ V-fone still around?

          1. that is probably it. Or maybe just to avoid speculation, as there were already people doom-saying about it last season.

        2. @andae23 Stability. McLaren announcing today was their plan IMO. The Financial Times broke the story, and when that came out, McLaren had no choice but to confirm it.

      2. What @journeyer writes makes a lot of sense. To stop further rumours they confirm that Vodafone indeed stops all its sponsorship of motorsport.

        The delay in announcing the new partner might also have to do with that partner currently already supporting a team on the grid and not wanting to upset that relationship by an early announcement of them leaving (to give Sauber time to find a replacement for Telmex?)

        1. @bascb I meant to say “NOT their plan”. Glad to see you still got the point though!

          Yes, I’d agree with your Sauber hypothesis. Dimi Papadopoulos (aka f1enigma) has also tweeted that Sauber might be up for sale again after a couple of possible investors pulled back. I would be surprised if those two stories were not connected in some form.

          1. Lets hope Sauber gets a win and finishes at least 6th to have buyers taking an interest then! If F1enigma thinks that, its likely based on his normally very reliable sources, so likely to be only too true.

    2. @andae23, my first thought about the early deal was: it must be something from Mexico, then. But maybe I’m wrong/too cynical.

    3. David not Coulthard (@)
      14th March 2013, 6:42


      why would you make public that you will announce something in 10 months time?

      Wait until you see a restaurant ads more than 50 kilometres from the restaurant – I’ve seen one before. You’l probably ask something like “Why would you advertise it 76 kilometres away?”, but that’s just how the earth spins, I guess.

      1. haha.. love that answer

    4. Thanks for the replies guys, makes a lot more sense now.

      1. @andae23 – McLaren have announced a date for the announcement of their new sponsor. That suggests they already have a replacement sponsor (but given their commitment to Vodafone, they can’t say anything more).

    5. Why does everyone assume that it was ever up to McLaren what the timing for this announcement would be? As pointed out above by @journeyer, the FT already broke this story, probably because it involves Vodafone cutting out a massive expenditure during the next 12 months, and it’s end of financial year time in the business world.

      McLaren are a big deal in f1 circles but in this relationship they’re very much the junior partner. If the FT hadn’t forced their hand, the timing of the announcement would have been up to Vodafone anyway.

  5. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    14th March 2013, 4:56

    “We’re immensely proud that, having been set a number of ambitious challenges by Vodafone back in 2007, together we’ve met or exceeded each and every one,” said team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

    Was one of the challenges to win only 1 WDC in 6 years?

    1. jimscreechy (@)
      14th March 2013, 6:43


    2. Haha! That was my immediate thought. McLaren have severely underperformed in their time with Vodafone.

      Spygate wasn’t a good way to start the relationship, but they’ve had plenty of exposure I guess.

    3. Haha, Zing!

    4. The other challange was for McLaren to find the time to roll out a cartoon series but fail to ensure

      either of its drivers was even in the running for the championship at the final race of erm, every

      season for 5 straight seasons from 2008 to 2012.

      1. I would definitely describe Hamilton as in the running for the championship at the final race of 2008 (and 2010).

        1. Typo – i meant 4 straight seasons from 2009.

          As for 2010, while mathetically alive, Lewis needed to win while hoping the trio of Alonso, Webber and Vettel finish no higher than 11st, 6th and 3rd respectively: a chain of events that was likely to happen as Joey Barton being appointed the Pope.

  6. Probably off to Mercedes. Also, I hope their new title sponsor isn’t Lotus – Lotus-Mclaren-Honda would be fun though.

    Realistically though, Telmex?

    1. Aditya (@adityafakhri)
      14th March 2013, 7:45

      I personally doubt that since Telmex isn’t a global branding (only exist in Mexico and Latin America) but nothing impossible for Slim and family.

    2. Head and Shoulders? LOL!

    3. I would say GlaxoSmithKline so lots of lucozade etc. More fizzy drink companies!

  7. I guess we now get to see Carlos Slim’s face on the cars.

  8. After the arrival of Perez I can’t help thinking that it will be Telmex…but that seems to obvious a choice to be true.

    1. @geemac Either that or GSK (who already have rear wing placement) will be upgraded to title sponsor.

      1. Maximuscle-McLaren-Mercedes in 2014

  9. C’mon, it’s Telmex, which is excellent news for the team, hence they are ‘excited’ for the December announcement already in March.

    1. @zimzamka If it IS Telmex, I wonder what will happen to their current sponsorship of Sauber. The Swiss team will have to find a replacement for them too.

      1. Slim probably has enough money to be a title sponsor for every team on the grid. :)

        It’s funny how the richest man in the world is called Slim! XD

        1. In dutch that means smart. fitting really, isn’t it @brace :-)

          1. I was thinking the very same thing BasCB :P

      2. @journeyer – Telmex is one is one of several brands owned by America Movil. They also have Claro and Embratel.

  10. but “will make an exciting announcement on 2nd December 2013, following the last Grand Prix of the season”.

    What are the odds that we’ll come to know of it far before that time?

    1. @wsrgo Don’t we already know it? ;) But seriously, with the likes of Benson around, I like the odds of us knowing way earlier IMO.

  11. I think the most exciting thing about this announcement is…New Livery!!

    1. @Silverkeg Couldn’t agree more. I hope they change it radically as I’m tired of the chrome!

      1. I think Vodafone brought the red to the party, not the chrome.

        1. Yeah, the chrome was there to make the sponsor stand out even more. So for all we know, they could keep it next year and beyond…

          1. Although I’d like the chrome to go away, the ‘rocket red’ is my biggest problem with it. I imagine the Chrome would actually look quite nice with Telmex blue ;)

            Also I just like it when liveries change

      2. @girts

        Couldn’t agree more. I hope they change it radically as I’m tired of the chrome!

        I actually really like the Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes livery from 2008. Keith has some stunning hi-res images of testing from 2008 (not just of McLaren but other teams, too). The link is:

        or just click on the “Pictures” sub menu and manually enter the page # “66” and choose the link at the bottom of the list… category/pictures/page/66/

  12. So Telmex McLaren-Honda for 2014?

    1. @paulk
      You beat me to my comment!..haha

      Wasnt Honda set to enter in 2015 only?

  13. So in 2015 it we will have Telmex Mclaren Honda

  14. It’s possible that it will be Telmex. But a few weeks ago some arabs said they wanted to sponsor a team as well. So I’m thinking about Emirates McLaren-Honda.

  15. Will McLaren’s reliability improve once Vodafone leaves?

    1. If their sponsorship is anything like their telecoms service..!

    2. They will get a better reception at least.

    3. Not if it’s EE-McLaren…

  16. Good bye Silver, we will miss you…I guess we should have seen this coming once Vodafone-holden team switched over to RB-Holden…

    I must go man cry this one out.

    1. It lives on on the Delta Wing, in action at Sebring this weekend…now that thing looks cool.

    2. The decision to stop sponsoring Triple Eight Race Engineering – the V8 Supercar team – was made by Vodafone Australia. It had nothing to do with the decision to stop sponsoring McLaren, which was made by an entirely different branch of the company.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        14th March 2013, 11:12

        “the decision to stop sponsoring McLaren”
        Was it Vodafone’s decision? If Carlos Slim is getting involved, it’s very possible that he’s simply outbid Vodafone hence McLaren announcing this now. Why else would they announce that they’ve lost their title sponsor the day before first practice for the new season begins?

        1. That’s not the point I’m trying to make. I’m saying that the decision to stop sponsoring V8 Supercars had nothing to do with the decision to stop sponsoring McLaren.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            14th March 2013, 14:49

            Yeah fair enough. I wasn’t really disagreeing with what you said – more pointing out that the general assumption is that Vodafone have left McLaren (referencing lots of comments here saying they’ve lost Hamilton, Mercedes and now Vodafone!) when in reality, it’s very possible that the only decision that wasn’t McLaren’s was Hamilton leaving.

  17. Wasn’t Mclaren wanting to build some kind of identity with the current colour scheme?

    1. I though it was the brand identity of Mercedes that prompted the silver and later chrome.

  18. I must be too cynical because on reading this article I assumed that they didn’t have anyone lined up to replace Vodafone and are buying themselves the time until December 2nd to get a new sponsor.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      14th March 2013, 11:13

      Why announce it now then?

  19. Must be the easiest time anyone’s ever had parting company with Vodafone.

    Either that or Martin Whitmarsh is just bluffing, hoping they’ll offer him more free minutes.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      14th March 2013, 11:08

      haha :D

  20. The Times claims that Vodafone’s decision was reached due to the protests in Bahrain

    1. That story is at least a year old.

      1. That story is from today’s edition of The Times

        Bahrain violence convinces Vodafone to end its F1 deal
        Nic Fildes
        Last updated at 12:01AM, March 14 2013

        1. It’s a rehash of a story froma year ago.

          1. I believe this story is the one that triggered rumours of Coca-Cola joining the sport through the Relentless brand.

  21. petebaldwin (@)
    14th March 2013, 11:08

    I’d bet my house on it being Telmex. It doesn’t matter if they operate mainly in Mexico – Slim isn’t exactly short of money!
    I imagine Slim would have liked Telmex on the car this year but due to McLaren’s Vodafone sponsorship, it wasn’t possible so they’ve stuck with Sauber (and Guiterrez) for another year.
    Slim has been pushing for a Mexican GP for a while so in theory, you could have Sergio Perez winning the Telmex Mexican Grand Prix in the Telmex McLaren Honda.

    1. @petebaldwin

      I really like the sound of that. May I be so bold as to add the Constructors World Championship to that as we’ve been missing one for a while now

    2. So does that mean that Perez’s seat is safe at McLaren in 2014 no matter how he performs this season?

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        14th March 2013, 12:58

        It’s all speculation and guesswork but if Telmex are to be the title sponsor, Perez’s seat is undoubtably safe.
        Personally, I think he’ll prove over the course of the year to be faster than Button so his seat will be safe regardless of sponsorship.

        On a side note, if only this picture of his ex-teammate came about through better circumstances:

        1. Anthony Bosley (@)
          14th March 2013, 13:39

          Also it’s worth pointing out that Perez is on a multi-year contract so he’d be there in 2014 regardless unless something spectacular happens.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            14th March 2013, 14:51

            Well yeah that too although in F1, contracts don’t seem to be worth the paper they’re written on!

  22. Well if I was Luca di Montezemolo and heard that one of their biggest rivals needed a new engine…

  23. I wanted them to keep that livery, but if the have found a better offer then it’s obviously best to take that.

    Will it be Mexican money or a “big, American company” that was sort of rumoured last season. Whatever happened to Lotus’ Honeywell deal… or maybe it’s Coca-Cola!

    1. dodge5847 (@)
      14th March 2013, 17:24

      coca-cola would look great

      1. They already sponsoring Lotus through the Burn brand.

  24. I would like them to get someone like Verizon in and go back to black on chrome with tiny bits of rocket red, and though it would look a bit like the Penske cars, they’re used to that anyway!

    1. Verizon = Vodafone. Not going to happen.

    2. McLaren MP4-27 @ 2012 US Grand Prix

      This is as close as we are going to get to Verizon sponsorship on a McLaren. But as Snobeck said, they are part of the same group so it won’t happen.

  25. What about Honeywell? heard rumours about it

    1. @um1234 Interesting idea. After all the rumoured Lotus thing didn’t happen…

      1. the lotus rumours have been going on for months and nothings happened. my theory is negotiations between lotus and honeywell fell apart as they couldnt agree on sponsor days…
        however mclaren said interesting new title sponsor. honeywell isnt really an interesting sponsor considering they make fans.

        1. They’re interesting in the sense that they break the trend of energy drink, mobile phone and oil company sponsorship that is the trend in Formula 1 at the moment.

      2. Lotus insist they’re still working on it.

  26. *Earth Dreams*

  27. about time!! im so tired at looking at that same red & chrome livery each year, it was cool at first but soooo tired now

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      14th March 2013, 14:53

      Yeah I agree – Ferrari have shown more variation of their livery than McLaren and they haven’t exactly got a lot of scope to work with!

  28. I doubt it’s Honda if it’s true they’re not planning on supplying engines until 2015.

    But you know what would be an interesting shout? Mugen.

  29. So the 2014 car will be TELMEX McLaren Mercedes and the 2015 car will be TELMEX McLaren ( Mercedes or Honda). I think Lewis departure was a boon in making for Mclaren so that they could grab Perez (read “Telemx”) for the loss of Vodafone. Now it is very clear why Nico Hulkenberg did not get a chance in McLaren.

    Unfortunately for Vodafone this not what they expected when then came into McLaren. Moving from a partnership with Ferrari (which gave them 5 Consecutive world championship) to Mclaren in 2007, Vodafone thought of higher limelight probably with the stud Fernando Alonso in the stable. But what started out there was quite the opposite, first the embarrassment for the logo with the SpyGate scandal. Followed by the loss of Alonso. They “Overachieved” probably ( in the words of Whitmarsh) in 2008 with a WDC albeit losing the constructors championship. 2009 was a Brawn washout. Following 3 years were a tutorial to “How to lose a championship with the best driver line up and the best car”. with 6 years of turbulence, i think they had enough of it.

    @mantresx as discussed last week, this might answer the question about the logos on McLaren :)

    As stated by Martin Whitmarsh they have exceeded expectation with they 1 title which means was the expectation 0 Titles ?

    1. Why are you so certain it is Telmex? They never had a title sponsorship arrangement at Sauber.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys The reason I feel Telmex has more chance to be a McLaren Sponsor is because of these logical interpretations.

        1) Obvious – Perez Move to McLaren even though he is from Ferrari Drivers Academy.
        2) Telmex is not the sponsor for Sauber hence they can be a Primary Sponsor now.
        3) For Telmex Sauber is very less in the Limelight compared to Mclaren to make any marketing impact
        4) Latin America is one of the fastest growing market with Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, mexico et all. F1 has a very good following and growth in these countries. What better place than a McLaren (of course other than Ferrari) to have the logo to enhance their brand in Latin America.
        5) I had a feeling that Perez was backed by Telmex into the Ferrari academy too. But since Alonso is firmly secured there until 2016, Santander would not be willing to give up that space. Hence the reason why Montzemolo did not pick Perez to replace Massa last year. It was not because Perez is not “Ready Yet”. It was business nothing personal as Michael Corleone says.
        6) With Perez, Telmex would have asked for the Top sponsorship at Ferrari who were not ready to give up Santander just yet.
        7) Santander is also equally interested in the LatAm market. They have invested $270 Million in the Campinas Technology center in Brazil. 2 LatAm focused Logos on the same car would not make sense and dilute each other’s value.
        8) It was Telmex through their early plans with Ferrari which brought Perez to Ferrari Academy and subsequently to Sauber which runs on Ferrari power.

  30. dodge5847 (@)
    14th March 2013, 17:23

    Mclaren have invested 800 million pounds into their road car, now the new factory is up and running, is it possible that they may be their own sponsor? ie GT Mclaren Mercedes then GT Mclaren Honda

  31. I like the GlaxoSmithKline option as discussed earlier. I looked up their brands and I think panadol rapid could work nicely, but maybe not as F1 is very noisy and therefore headache inducing. Alternatively they could go for nicorette as a **** you to Ferrari-Marlboro.

  32. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    15th March 2013, 10:41

    I hope Vodafone now put some of that money into paying their damn taxes!!!

  33. Aw, this was a very nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a great article… but what can I say… I
    put things off a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  34. I like reading an article that will make men and women think.
    Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

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