After the flurry of news regarding the first Formula One pre-season test in Jerez and the Sepang MotoGP test, the current absence of news seems rather dull. However, if you’ve been following closely you will have noticed a few intriguing stories.
The sponsor situation in Formula One has been pretty dire in recent years but recent news could be optimistically taken to mean that last year, when Williams, Sauber and Marussia all ran with almost bare liveries, thankfully may have been the nadir.
Williams recently announced a new sponsorship deal with Martini, meaning the legendary and iconic red, white and blue stripes of the 1970s should again be present in the new turbocharged era.
This, alongside further deals with Genworth Insurance and Petrobras, a Brazilian oil company surely attracted to the team by the team’s new Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, combined with the team’s new technical structure under Pat Symonds’ leadership and the promising pace shown at the Jerez test, all builds to a very positive vibe around the Grove team.
If the team delivers during the season then maybe the sleeping giant of Formula One can defy the doubters and once again compete to win races. If so, the sport will be all the healthier for it.
The arrival of any new sponsor into Formula One is a big story nowadays. Whereas in the early noughties even midfield teams had the logos of huge, blue chip companies painted onto their cars, things are much harder now.
The financial crash of 2008 led to the exits of many companies who had been supporting teams and five years later, for some reason, there hasn’t yet been a renaissance of corporate interest.
Even the mighty McLaren was trundling around Jerez without a title sponsor, after Vodafone decided to end their involvement at the end of 2013, reportedly due to the negative publicity furore surrounding the controversial Bahrain grand prix.
Former team principal Martin Whitmarsh had announced a sponsor unveiling for last December but worryingly, that was cancelled. This was one of the reasons why Ron Dennis took back control of the Formula One team, after becoming concerned about the team’s commercial business.
Rumours have grown that all will be well by the time of the Australian grand prix and that their car, now under the leadership of racing director Eric Boullier, will be adorned with a new, major sponsor. We shall see.
Another recent story is the successful first outing of the new Lotus E22. With the team having endured delays and their engine manufacturer, Renault, having serious problems at the Jerez test with their other teams, the fact that they ran a trouble-free 100km was a surprise to many.
In the past few years the Lotus team have shown to be one of the finest teams on the grid, and despite their huge financial troubles and loss of top-level engineers, could be on course for a stronger season than many suggested.
However, it seems highly unlikely that the team will replicate their recent race winning form of the past two years and a strong midfield campaign seems much more probable. But that’s just speculation, more evidence of where each team stands will be provided next week when the second Formula One test starts in Bahrain.