Regional Influences Among Many Qualities Considered By F1 Sponsors
The drivers of F1 teams McLaren and Ferrari "are from the four most-important countries" for sponsor Santander, a fact that is "sheer coincidence," according to Rencken & Haidinger of MOTORSPORT TOTAL. How big is the influence of sponsors in F1? This question is "as current as ever as many teams are financially struggling and depend on drivers," who have money and sponsorship deals for certain regions. An example of such a driver is Pastor Maldonado, who has, in addition to his talent, €30M ($37.8M) from Venezuela's government-owned oil company PDVSA. Fernando Alonso is the highest-paid driver in F1 because Spanish bank Santander "puts a tremendous amount of money in the coffers of Ferrari." Just recently, the bank "adjusted the duration of its sponsorship contract with the team to match the duration of Alonso's contract." If you take a closer look at the two teams sponsored by Santander, Ferrari and McLaren, "one thing is pretty obvious." Alonso, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez "are all from the bank's most-important markets, which are Spain, Brazil, the U.K. and Mexico." Santander's sponsorship deals with the teams "seem to be linked to Alonso." Santander became a McLaren partner in '07 and a Ferrari sponsor in '10, in both cases it was the same year Alonso joined the respective teams. Santander Sponsorship Manager Pablo de Villota denies the allegations the company would follow Alonso and said, "We agreed to a deal with McLaren before we knew that he would join the team. The reason was that McLaren was the best available team for our sponsorship package and goals at that time." Santander's sponsorship deal with Ferrari also had nothing to do with Alonso joining the Scuderia ahead of the '10 season. Villota: "It went down in similar fashion. We started negotiations [with Ferrari] two years earlier." Villota added, "As strange as it may seem form the outside, we have had no voting right regarding drivers. It's the team's decision" (MOTORSPORT TOTAL, 12/18).