Sponsor Watch: The cars of 2016

2016 F1 season

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Are F1 teams still struggling to find sponsors? Find out who’s added new names in time for the start of the 2016 season.


Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Mercedes, 2016
Mercedes begin the new season looking to extend a crushing run of success, yet this seems not to have made them an attractive sponsorship opportunity.

The most significant change to the team’s livery over the winter break is the disappearance of mobile phone brand Blackberry whose logos had been on the car for the last three years.

One potentially significant partnership does not feature any branding on the car. Pure Storage (second image) supplies the team’s data retrieval systems which allows them to retrieve information from their cars more quickly when in the garage – a useful advantage in testing when the team was able to cover significantly greater mileage than its rivals.

Mercedes claim the technology has cut “typical back-end SQL query processing times by 95%, while engineers calling up race data will enjoy a 36% faster load speed, enabling sharper and faster decision-making”.


Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

There have only been minor changes to the sponsor roster at Ferrari. The discrete Haas branding which appeared in 2014 has inevitably gone as its team has arrived in F1.

On addition to the SF16-H is the logo of Singha Beer on the sidepod wing. The Alfa Romeo branding which appeared last year remains on the engine cover, but president Sergio Marchionne continues to make noises about having an Alfa-branded team in the future.


Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Williams announced an extended one-year deal with Finnish trading conglomerate Wihuri during the off season, and their logo takes its new place on the front wing endplate. Menswear retailer Hackett has been given an increased presence on the side of the car, whilst Kemppi and Genworth logos have both disappeared.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

The fracturing of Red Bull’s relationship with Renault has had consequences for the team’s livery. The exchange of Renault logos for TAG-Heuer – the Swiss watch Manufacturer lending its name to the team’s engines this year – is just the start. Title sponsor Infiniti, whose parent company Nissan is 43.5% owned by Renault, has also gone.

Telecommunications company AT&T have an extended presence on the rear wing endplate this year, whilst the logo of race-gear supplier Puma appears on the sidepod wing. The arrival of TAG also means the Casio branding has gone from the car – it has been transferred to sister outfit Toro Rosso.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Force India’s livery has always had a high alcohol content but it has reduced slightly this year with the disappearances of with Mexican wine brand Cavall and vodka makers Smirnoff.

Technology company Channel IT and infrastructure firm Consorcio Aristos have all disappeared from the car. However energy drink makers Hype have increased their backing and now have bigger logos on the rear wing as well as on the drivers’ overalls.


Kevin Magnussen, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Renault is yet to reveal its final livery for 2016 however an image which appeared on social media yesterday suggests the team plans to swap black for yellow.

Many names from the Lotus sponsor roster have remained including Microsoft, Total, EMC2 and minority shareholder Genii. Among those no longer present are Bidvest, Richard Mille (now with McLaren), Saxo Bank and Yotaphone.

Most significantly, Venezuela’s crisis-hit state petroleum manufacturer PDVSA has pulled its backing and with it has gone former driver Pastor Maldonado. His replacement Kevin Magnussen brings long-time sponsor menswear brand Jack and Jones with him, but its much smaller presence indicates less money has exchanged hands.

Renault now carries the logos of its related brand Infiniti instead of Red Bull, and audio systems company Devialet has also joined the team.

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Spanish oil company CEPSA bought the naming rights to the Real Madrid football stadium last year but evidently felt its Toro Rosso sponsorship was no longer worth the expense. Red Bull has filled the gap on Toro Rosso’s rear wings with its Cola brand – a product it only sells in a small number of countries.

Toro Rosso has also lost backing from Nova Chemicals, but has at least picked up Casio from Red Bull’s main team.


Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Marcus Ericsson recently remarked that Sauber could do with “a couple of good sponsors”, and recent reports that the team’s staff were paid late last month raised fresh concerns over their finances.

The team has added several new names to the C35 but they do not appear to be high-value deals. The car’s rear wing end plate now features global enterprise solutions company IFS, snack brand Malbuner Power Slice and finance and business broadcaster CNBC, which previously sponsored Marussia in 2011.

Swiss watch manufacturer Edox makes an appearance on the bargeboards in place of former sponsor Oerlikon.


Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

McLaren’s cars have become increasingly blank in recent seasons but that trend appears to be reversing. The team announced its deal with Chandon for 2016 late last year and has also added the logos of Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille, formerly a Lotus sponsor, whose logo appears just in front of the wing mirror.

The team has also renewed its deal with Johnnie Walker, a partnership which appeared to be in jeopardy when the whiskey brand signed up with FOM as F1’s official whiskey brand in 2014.

However the vacant sidepods and in-house McLaren branding on the rear wing indicate Ron Dennis is sticking to his guns about not cutting the team’s rate card prices despite its lack of success in recent years and the difficult sponsorship market.


Rio Haryanto, Manor, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Flex-Box and Airbnb, who arrived as Manor sponsors last year, have not stayed for this season. The team has added backing from music identification app Shazam on the rear wing endplate.

The main plane of the rear wing and the car’s nose bears the logo of Indonesian energy company Pertamina, which is paying for Rio Haryanto’s seat at the team. The colouring of the rear wing logo was tweaked during pre-season testing.


Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

F1’s new team was rumoured to be considering a yellow colour scheme for 2016 before Renault’s return as a factory outfit was announced. Instead the VF-16 is kitted out in the colours of Haas Automation, which means another mostly colourless car on the grid, albeit with some red highlights.

“Connecting Haas Automation with F1 in name and in practice is the best way to grow our business and elevate Haas Automation to a premium, global brand,” said Gene Haas when the car was unveiled in Spain.

There are few other logos on the car. Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille, a personal sponsor of Romain Grosjean, has transferred from Renault. A deal has also been struck with Alpinestars to supply racegear, and so their logo appears on the sidepod wing structure.

The car bears the Stars and Stripes on both sidepod vanes. On the right-hand-side the ‘reverse side flag’ is used which is consistent with common practice for displaying the American flag.

2016 F1 season

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26 comments on “Sponsor Watch: The cars of 2016”

  1. Oh for the days when major companies like HSBC, Panasonic, Vodafone, Repsol, Compaq, Deutsche Post, Becks, Mastercard and HP were sponsoring even midfield teams.

    I’d love to see a car decked out in Barclays Blue, or a green XBOX car, or a purple and orange FedEx team

  2. I’ve been wondering when the ‘peak’ of F1 occurred, in relation to the cars throughout the field being plastered in sponsor logos. Mid-noughties perhaps? Perhaps this era was the peak of F1 in terms of sponsors, manufacturer involvement, race attendance and TV viewing figures. Then we saw tobacco sponsorship banned, the global economic crisis and the rise of digital and social media. Is F1 based on a model that worked great in the 80s and 90s, but is struggling to adapt to the world in this decade? I guess so. Bernie was fantastic for that era but we need someone in charge who now understands the modern era.

    1. @unicron2002 That’s a great question. I take it a little bit further and let’s not count the team parent company, engine manufacturers, technical partners, and driver’s personal sponsors or backings. I think all cars is basically sponsorless now except minor logos under the sidepods and rear wing plates. Except Williams and Force India, but I doubt FI ask the sponsors normal F1 rate.

      1. @sonicslv That’s a good point about the rate Force India ask. Would it be a better financial model for all teams to charge less and have more? One thing that I always notice about Force India’s sponsors (which if I’m noticing means it is working), is that they are almost all large, taking up all the space. This must keep the sponsors happy and interested, meaning that they are then more likely to invest more money, right?

        1. @strontium I’ve thinked about it before and I honestly can’t come into a conclusion. Some things I consider:
          – Sponsoring an event is not as worth as in old days, with everyone has internet access and their own distractions.
          – On the other hand F1 still has biggest global audience aside from top league soccer, world cup (4year event), Olympics (4 year hype), and WWE!
          – There’s limited space on car and the cost of running a team is not for someone private pocket anymore
          – Too many sponsor with their obligations may be distractions too.

          Also it’s interesting aside from Ferrari, Williams and Force India no other team has title sponsor.

          1. Mercedes has Petronas, and technically, Haas and Red bull are their own title sponsors

          2. True, but I’m more talking about title sponsors that purely there for sponsor and not involving in some kind technical partnership. Like Marlboro, Sahara and Martini. Also until last year Red Bull has somewhat title sponsor called Infiniti :)

    2. In 1995, the Jordan cars(now Force India) had 91 separate sponsors.

  3. maybe we will see “kiky” in manor cars. Brand of stationery manufacturer whose owned by Haryanto’s family.

  4. “Red Bull has filled the gap on Toro Rosso’s rear wings with its Cola brand – a product it only sells in a small number of countries.”

    Such a bummer, they sold RB Cola in the USA for a couple years, and I really liked it.

    1. I guess you were part of too small a niche for them to keep selling it then @thirllerwa09

  5. “Telcel’s logos have also gone”.

    They have just moved. The logo is now on the nose instead of the rear wing. So it actually appears on three teams’ cars this year.

    1. Thanks – I’ve changed that part.

      1. No worries.

  6. If they can’t find sponsors, they should at least pay a graphic designer to come up with beautiful and unique colour schemes. Make some really beautiful cars and show the sponsors what they’re missing out on.
    Not saying that it was beautiful, but the earth dreams Honda cars of 2007 & 2008 did just that.
    And thanks to these cars, my collection of cars look a lot more colourful and beautiful.

  7. It is hard to spot it, unless looking straight to it, but Renault has a new partnership and sponsorship with watchmaker Bell & Ross. Their name appears on top of the sidepod wing:

  8. The HAAS logo is on the Ferrari but it’s hard to spot. It’s printed on the black carbon fiber floor just ahead of the rear wheels.

  9. Is the title of the article ‘Sponsor Watch’ an intended pun for all the watch makers sponsoring F1?

    1. Ahahah that’s a good one that is! Or is it because we are watching them all disappear over time? ;)

  10. @keithcollantine Force India has renewed a 5 year deal with Smirnoff, they were present in the 2nd winter testing. http://www.sportstarlive.com/motorsport/f1/mallya-ensures-funding-for-force-india-for-five-years/article8286031.ece

  11. For Force India, Smirnoff is still part of them. In fact it was part of a deal with Diageo that Vijay Mallya to step down as the chair man of UB group. $15 million Sponsorship for the next five years of a total of $75 million.. Thts why Royal Challenge is out and Smirnoff in from second test.

  12. It seems as though every team is having trouble finding corporations with large pockets. I would have thought F1 teams would have had marketing executives from all the major corporates fighting to have their brand name on the premium places on a car, but it seems not.

  13. I don’t remember seeing the Total brand on the Lotus last year. Someone show me

  14. I remember reading that the Finnish welding company Kemppi continues to sponsor Valtteri Bottas; the logo should be visible somewhere on the helmet.

  15. [blockquote]The car bears the Stars and Stripes on both sidepod vanes. On the right-hand-side the ‘reverse side flag’ is used which is consistent with common practice for displaying the American flag.[/blockquote]
    Somehow I’ve never noticed this.

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