By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Williams title sponsor Martini will end its association with the team and Formula One at the end of the 2018 season according to a Team Principal Claire Williams, who confirmed the news today from the pit lane in Barcelona.
Martini made its much celebrated return to Formula One with the British team in 2014 and since then they have enjoyed massive returns on their investment, and helped create one of the best liveries in recent history. It was the first time Martini’s iconic stripes had been seen in the sport since they ended their sponsorship with Brabham in 1975.
According to Williams, Martini will not just leave Williams at the end of the year, but F1 as a whole, having achieved their strategic objectives in their five year relationship with the Grove based outfit.
“Martini are leaving us at the end of this year. It’s the end of their contract and we have been in discussion for many months now about an extension beyond 2018 as you would expect,” said Williams.
“They have been a really important partner of ours for the last five years and we were incredibly lucky that they chose to join the team back in 2013, 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 is pretty impressive and showed a lot of faith on their part.
“They have had a very successful time with us and achieved their objectives and I think every brand is entitled to evolve their marketing objectives over time, as you would expect, and that’s what Martini are doing. They are withdrawing not just from Williams but the whole of Formula 1 and you won’t see them on another team in 2019.”
The silver lining for Williams is that they have the whole of the 2018 season to hunt for a new title sponsor while still enjoying the high profile backing of Martini.
The loss of a title sponsor can be a major blow for an independent team, but if they can achieve good results on track this year, finding new sponsors will come more easily.
With the new FW41 featuring the full influence of Paddy Lowe, new money in the coffers from Sergey Sirotkin’s backers, the Stroll family, and the buzz of Robert Kubica in the team, Williams is better placed to weather the storm than they have been for some time.
They are a team in transition, but that is the way of life for independent teams in modern day Formula One.