Mercedes GP announced this morning that Petronas, the Malaysian oil giant, will take title sponsorship of the team from 2010 onwards.
Team principal Ross Brawn said:
Everyone at Mercedes GP is delighted to confirm our long-term agreement with Petronas and we look forward to working closely with our new partner in the future. The collaboration of the premium automotive brand Mercedes-Benz and a company as prestigious as Petronas gives our team a fantastic base from which to achieve our ambitions of competing at the top level of Formula One and building on the success of 2009 which saw the team achieve the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships. Our plans for the new season are progressing well, as is the development of our 2010 challenger, and we look forward to seeing the car run in the new Silver Arrows and Petronas livery at the Valencia test in February.
There had been much speculation in recent weeks that Mobil 1 would either leave McLaren or split its involvement between the two, but it appears that Mercedes were looking for more than just a technical partner. Mobil 1′s financial input into McLaren is relatively modest but the arrangement has been mutually beneficial, so it saw no need to spend more on a title sponsorship. Neither did it wish to transfer its allegiance from a team with which it has enjoyed considerable success.
When synthetic oil was introduced to the market in the 1970s, in the wake of the first oil shock, it was viewed with suspicion by many customers. Mobil 1 conquered this and established itself as a market leader by getting involved in motor sports and demonstrating its product there. It has been involved in over 100 Formula 1 wins, over half of which have come through its relationship with McLaren.
In recent years oil has become an increasingly important development path. The freeze on R&D, and the move to multi-race engines, has increased the demands on the lubricant in two ways: it must protect the engine over a longer duty cycle, but it can also liberate more power if blended to exactly the right viscocity.
It will be interesting to see what effect the move has on Mobil 1′s relationship with Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth.