Martini is not moving to one of Williams’s rivals, deputy team principal Claire Williams said, following the announcement their title sponsor is leaving the team.
According to Williams the alcohol brand is pulling out of F1 completely and will not move to a rival team this year or in the foreseeable future.
“It’s the end of their contract,” Williams confirmed. “We have been in discussion with them for many months now about an extension beyond 2018 as you’d expect.”
Williams said Martini have chosen to leave now because they have “achieved their objectives” in the sport.
“I think every brand is entitled to evolve their marketing objectives over time and that’s what Martini are doing. So they’re withdrawing not just from Williams but the whole of Formula One. You won’t see them on another team.”
Williams said the team was “incredibly lucky” to attract Martini as a sponsor five years ago. “We were ninth in the championship back in 2013 so to be able to attract a brand like Martini as a title partner in our position was pretty impressive and I think showed a lot of faith on their part.”
“We thank them for the support they’ve given us and the faith that they showed in us, we hope that they felt the same about us,” she added. “We’ve delivered them two thirds in the championship in ’14 and ’15. And we wish them well.”
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Driver choice unrelated to Martini exit
Wiliams denied the team’s decision to appoint Sergey Sirotkin in place of Felipe Massa had motivated Martini’s decision to leave. As an alcohol sponsor, Martini preferred one of the team’s drivers to be at least 25 years old for marketing reasons due to minimum age limits on alcohol consumption. Sirotkin is 22 and his team mate Lance Stroll is 19. The latter wore non-Martini-branded team kit at races in areas where he was below the legal age limit for drinking last season.
“I talked quite a lot last year about making sure that we had drivers we were able to activate from a marketing perspective because of Martini’s 25 years age limit,” she said. “We talked about them going into this year about drivers because it’s quite hard to find drivers that are over 25.”
“They were fully supportive of us bringing Sergey on board so that played no part in our decision making process. They were fully aware of our plans and they were supportive of it. And I suppose next year it gives us the freedom to do what we need to do without having to worry about any age limit.”
The team is actively seeking new sponsors but is not necessarily looking for a like-for-like replacement now Martini is leaving, Williams added.
“As you would expect with us being an independent team we have a very active commercial department, we’re always looking for new partners,”she said. “We brought in new partners over this winter and we have a very good partner community at the moment.”
“I don’t want to sit there going ‘now we’re looking for a title partner’ because it’s not about looking for a title partner, it’s ensuring we have the budget we need to go racing. Whether that comes from a new title partner coming on board or a group of partners then we’ll have to wait and see how the situation evolves over the course of this year.”
“Everybody can see our results, being a listed company. We’re financially stable at the moment, I can’t talk too much about it because we’re in a closed period. But we’re not unduly concerned about them leaving at the end of this year.”
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2018 F1 season
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