Aramco banner, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2020

F1 signs long-term sponsorship deal with ‘world’s biggest polluter’ Saudi Aramco

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 has announced a new long-term sponsorship deal with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company.

Known as Saudi Aramco, the the petroleum and gas producer is one of the world’s largest companies. It joins DHL, Emirates, Heineken, Pirelli and Rolex as one of F1’s six global partners.

F1 said the deal “will connect Aramco to an engaged audience of 500 million fans and allow it to better communicate its success stories to the world”. Aramco will be the title sponsor for this year’s United States, Spanish and Hungarian Grands Prix and have trackside branding at most other rounds.

Aramco has also been tipped to brand a future F1 race in Saudi Arabia.

However Aramco has recently been named the ‘world’s biggest polluter’, which puts it at odds with F1’s strategic goal of becoming a net zero producer of carbon by 2030.

F1 cars testing, 2020
Why F1’s pursuit of sustainability will inevitably clash with some of its sponsors
A recent study indicated Aramco has produced 59.26 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide since 1965, over 15 billion more than any other company. A 2017 study of carbon dioxide emissions between 1988 and 2015* suggested only China’s coal-fired power stations had contributed more than Aramco.

F1 stressed the Aramco deal will allow it to “identify opportunities for the advancement of sustainable fuels, enhanced engine efficiencies and emerging mobility technology”.

Aramco president Amin Nasser said: “As the world’s largest energy supplier and an innovation leader, we have the ambition to find game-changing solutions for better-performing engines and cleaner energy. Partnerships like these are important to help us to deliver on our ambitions.”

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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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  • 65 comments on “F1 signs long-term sponsorship deal with ‘world’s biggest polluter’ Saudi Aramco”

    1. Applause!

      Worst polluter from one of the worst countries. Great success!

      Suggest, let’s start promote stoning of women and killing journalists during races. In a couple of years, the whole world will join!

      1. It’s OK, maybe that settlement with Ferrari was for them to acquire sponsorship from Philip Morris:)

        That will almost complete a great set. They just need a sports betting company and they’ll have all the best ones.

        1. In 2018 F1 signed a contract with Interregional Sports Group to “…produce an F1 betting offering” that “will work with data taken directly from the track on race weekends”. The deal will enable an expansion of in-play betting markets – popular in many other major sports…”

          I’ve not heard it mentioned since. With one team allowed to shape and bend the rules, maybe they’ve decided to keep the deal quiet in case the FBI take an interest.

    2. The clock is ticking: some countries will ban oil companies ads/sponsorships.

      1. No they won’t. What a ridiculous comment. Oil isn’t just a fuel… It’s present in everything we touch each day. Without oil we’re back to sticks and rocks. Even a green economy will require oil…. probably forever.

        1. @drone There’s extracting and using oil and then there’s burning oil, which is the majority of the pollution bit. Humanity will never stop being able to consume the planets resources, but it can limit & centralise consumption, to contain the effects.

          1. @optimaximal is not saying banning the companies but advertisement campaigns. We mighty not be there just yet, but I’m not surprise to start seeing something like that. Lots of similar examples like Tobacco, alcoholic beverages.

            1. he is…

        2. There are many other ways to make complex hydrocarbons.

          1. Not as easily or cheaply as they are obtained from oil and certainly not at the volume required to support our current consumption. Oil is staying… Get over it.

            1. Oil is staying? I thought it was a finite resource, but hey, I’m no expert.

        3. Oil isn’t just a fuel… It’s present in everything we touch each day

          It’s not like any of the other stuff (plastic) that they make from oil makes it’s way into the oceans.

          1. One of the reasons it ends up in the oceans is that people are lazy and dispose of it in irresponsible ways. Disposed of correctly and recycled, it wouldn’t be a problem. Thrown on the ground and washed into the ocean, it’s a problem.
            Plus, plastic was hailed as the panacea and glass as the villan a few decades ago, as glass was pollution intensive in production and was easier to recycle. Funny how times change…

        4. You forgot to mention using bullocks, horses, elephants, etc.

    3. Huge backwards step.

      F1’s identity is in crisis – as much as us fans don’t want to admit it, it’s just long for this world anymore.

      By time F1 is forced to switch to electric power (which will HAVE to happen), FE would have such a big head-start that it would just have to be absorbed/rebranded as one joint series.

      1. @joeypropane I came down to the comments here to add some anger to my lunch break. To my surprise and disappointment everybody seems to agree that this is a bad move.

      2. This is no different than shell, Mobil, esso, elf, total, BP, sinopec, Petrobras, Petronas or any other oil company buying ad space.

        1. It is worse than most of those because of the connection to a horrific state. But it is also not just “buying some ad space”. They are going to be a big part of the F1 branding.

    4. What with all the complaints?

      Petronas, Shell, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, PDV… Aren’t they all?

        1. Has anyone checked what Mercedes sponsor Ineos does for a leaving?
          Yes, you can had that one to that long list of major polluters. I would like to ask Lewis where he stands on “fracking”. I was amazed no one picked up on the irony .
          Ineos is also the major sponsor of the very patriotic British America’s cup sailing team. Sailing, the image of clean and green… cough…cough…
          These guys have no shame putting their name in front of eye balls and these teams have no shame taking the $.

          1. If you people check out that recent article from Dieter Rencken (referenced in the current article), you might see that he did mention all of them – and as this article mentioned, of the oil companies, this particular one is by some measures the worst of them when it comes to pollution; not so much a case of why this one a problem and those not, but a matter of gradation, or escalation if you wish, which is moving counter to the direction F1 has said they want to go.

            1. Thanks for the sanity check…Cant believe ppl miss these points.

      1. Exactly – Why not partner with a 100% renewable energy company? Or the likes of Siemens (biggest offshore windfarm producer)? Just because you’re already in bed with all the other big global polluters, doesn’t mean you should be adding more to your CO2 orgy.

        Or is it that those companies just don’t want to be associated with F1 now?

        1. Given the choice Siemens would probably prefer to be associated with FE.

        2. Because those companies cannot “afford” to sponsor F1 I imagine. These bigger multi-nationals are the only ones with the commercial nouse, funding and desire to sponsor a global sport like F1. Multi-national “green” companies are a few years away from having the same presence.

    5. Smart move i would say. It can only help both sides do better for the environment.

      1. Totally agree with this positive comment. The only company that can make a change is the biggest polluter. If they are put in the spot light at every race and forced to improve even by 1% it will be a bigger impact than what most companies can achieve.

        1. @ Evans:

          If they are put in the spot light at every race and forced to improve…

          That is an Aramco sized ‘If’ there !! I am fine with 0.001% for starters.

      2. I agree, but honestly I don’t have a problem with the company Aramco sponsoring F1, but I do have a problem with the Saudi regime.

        And why is Aramco=Bad but Heineken=Good? On a scale of human misery alcohol has a pretty bad record but a positive to the oil industry is that at least it powers the world economy for the good of everyone.

    6. Initial reaction: what a horrible decision. Why not bring back tobacco sponsorship as well?

      On the other hand, if these kind of partnerships help develop greener fuel and energy solutions, great!

      1. @kaiie some might argue that the sport is effectively reintroducing a form of tobacco sponsorship by the back door from companies using the sport to promote e-cigarette brands.

    7. I’m shocked that a sport that uses 150 tires and 8000 liters of fuel per event is partnering with a major polluter!

      1. More like 260 sets of tires or 1040 tires per race weekend.

    8. Just you wait until they rebrand to Mission OilYeah, a brand for driving change by constantly searching for better ways of doing things.

      1. @eljueta

        Mission OilYeah

        That made me laugh. Thanks :-)

    9. clickbait from Keith again, biased article. Why don’t you just stop writing about F1 if you don’t like oil.

      1. @TurboBT

        Keith & Co have to earn money to actually attend the races, to write articles that appear here.

      2. A completely legitimate story as far as I can see.

    10. “it’s alright, we don’t morally censor you, we just want the money.” – Monty Python

    11. Am I the only one who thinks this deal is a good thing – it means more cash will go into the pot to be shared amongst the teams.

      Who actually cares about the companies that align themselves with F1? Heikenen is a vile excuse for a beer, no number of ads at F1 tracks will make me spend my hard earned cash on their product. Emirates and DHL would be well known and well used brands even if they didn’t partner with F1. Most of our decisions re the tyres we fit on our daily runarounds are based on cost, which rules out Pirelli for most of us. And Rolexes may be seen to be symbols of success, but compared to Audemars Piguet, Brietling and even Richard Mille’s monstrosities they are cheap.

      1. “it means more cash will go into the pot to be shared amongst the teams.”
        I doubt it, Liberty will just make more from F1 for the shareholders.
        Just in time for the cost cap to be fully appreciated next year, to do this deal then, would cause some criticism.

        Possibly Aramco will incur the world’s biggest ever loss over the course of this week as the oil price drops off a cliff.

        must have learned something from Bernie

        1. Possibly Aramco will incur the world’s biggest ever loss over the course of this week as the oil price drops off a cliff.

          They won’t I assure you. Aramco’s break even cost per barrel of oil produced is incredibly low…around $26 per barrel (and Brent is currently trading at $37.16 pb according to the Beeb) and they have strategic oil stockpiles around the world in places like Rotterdam and Okinawa to boost supplies at very short notice if needs be. They’ll be just fine.

          1. Very insightful, I’ll take your word @geemac

            The low breakeven cost is also a good testament of their efficiency too

            1. Ipsom it is not really a testament to their efficiency, so much as they are lucky that they have easy access to the largest single oilfield on the plant (Ghawar) and have been able to tap into that oilfield for the better part of 70 years now.

          2. Aramco will not loose much in the next weeks or months. There is a big difference between stock value and on-going profit.
            Saudi oil production costs are down around $3.00 to $5.00 a barrel. Russia is under $20.00 a barrel, but higher than the Saudi’s. The fight is between these two, primarily over market share, with US production taking on collateral damage. Come back in six months and all will seem normal again. Probably back at a $50.00 level.

      2. Absolutely agree @geemac – perfectly pragmatic response.

    12. It’s no coincidence that these companies are increasing their sponsorship. It’s almost like they feel if we’re more familiar with them, they’ll be harder to cast as the enemy.
      Major backwards step for F1, disappointing. I agree that there are already loads of oil companies involved with the sport, but it should be trying to reduce that, particularly with the Net Zero goal announced recently.

      As someone who feels strongly about the environment, I’m already painfully aware that the sport I’ve loved since I was a child is a major contradiction with my stance on climate change. F1 doing things like this just encapsulates the problem for me.

    13. Great news. F1 has been struggling with high caliber sponsors, sometimes ending up “stealing” sponsors from teams.
      I was a tad worried f1 was heading to financial breakdown.
      You can’t be dictated by the sponsor teams, or live of max and Lewis forever.

    14. So this means the Saudi Arabia GP will probably go on then

    15. F1 cars burn gas , and you complain about a fuel sponsor? I think your complaints are pretty silly. Stop watching F1 immediately if you are so “Shocked”.

    16. F1 blog complaining about Oil. Oh the irony

    17. No one should be doing any business with Saudi Arabia for many reasons: treatment of women; violent repressive regime; so man other serious issues. How does this fit in with Liberty’s huge publicity push to be carbon neutral?! More evidence that Liberty are money grubbers with little ethics.

      This is something Bernie would have done but at least he would have been upfront about his intentions.

    18. Sergey Martyn
      10th March 2020, 19:59

      Where are you, Greta?!

      1. I’m across the ocean, back in school.

    19. Let’s face it, F1s credentials are pretty darn shady themselves

      Personally I suggest anyone who has a moral issue with Saudi Aramco would probably be better sticking with Formual E and giving F1 a wide birth… that is unless you think it acceptable to pick & choose your ethics to suit the moment

    20. Well they are also the worlds biggest energy supplier… so it kinda makes sense.
      I think their general efficiency compared with the other companies is the important thing. And I know for a fact it is definitely not the least efficient.

      I see it as a positive for them the recently green initiative by F1 might rub off on them too. I can imagine that also being one of the reasons of this partnership.

      It’s so easy to believe stereotypes and just blast the country, a more sensible view is always best

    21. I like some of the things that Chase carey has done but reading stuff like this confirms F1s addiction to money is as bad if not worse than it was under CVC..

    22. I refuse to watch after this.

    23. Don’t personally care. Though it’s hard to find a real positive… I suppose, if more money is being dumped into F1 coffers (can’t honestly see why Aramco would want greater recognition from the general public, but each to their own), maybe a little more will find its way to struggling teams…

    24. Aramco dropped its price on Saturday to try and force some others out of business.

      Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members sought to cut production to shore up oil prices. But the once-powerful cartel can no longer move markets alone. It needs the support of Russia, which is not an OPEC member but has recently been coordinating with the organization.

      Yet Russia has resisted calls for production cuts. On Friday, the talks ended in failure. OPEC and its allies announced no new reductions and didn’t even commit to extending current cuts.

      So, Saudi Arabia is doing an about-face. If it can’t get the price back up, it’s going to drive the price way down. It’s offering to cut the oil price for the U.S. market by $7 per barrel, to Europe by $8 and Asia by $6. Paired with Saudi Arabia’s ability to rapidly increase production — flooding the market with cheap crude — those unilateral price cuts will push the price of oil down for everyone.

      Full story at: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/08/813439501/saudi-arabia-stuns-world-with-massive-discount-in-oil-sold-to-asia-europe-and-u-

    25. Questionable strategy. On the plus side… the worlds largest polluter has the most opportunity for improvement… sigh.

    26. Calling Aramco the world’s biggest polluter is like calling Heineken the world’s heaviest drinker. They don’t produce pollution, people consuming the oil do that.

    27. F1: Don’t drink and drive! We’re going green!
      Also F1: here’s our list sponsors, including alcoholic beverages and oil producers

      Incredible BS. F1 is a dirty sport for the environment, just face it and embrace it. Don’t hide behind fake claims just because everyone is getting sensible on the matter.

      It’s always what you do that matters, not what you say.

    28. Hi Keith,

      Regarding your tweet linking to this article:

      There’s various angles of note to this, one of them being that the United States Grand Prix in oil-rich Texas will be sponsored by a Saudi oil company

      Do you think the US cares? They add one of their citizens butchered and killed by high ranked Saudi officials. The US doesn’t really matter to be in bed with Saudi Arabia oil interests and showed several times there’s not really a red line.

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