There was a very serious development this evening in the Renault cheating story. Two of Renault’s key sponsors have today pulled out of their relationships with the team with immediate effect. Title sponsor ING, which was due to end its $65 million a year deal at the end of this season and Spanish insurance company Mutua Madrilena is also calling time on its $5 million a year deal with the team.
The statement from ING reads as follows;
“ING announced today that in light of the verdict of the World Motor Sport Council of 21 September 2009 concerning the events that occurred at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, ING will terminate the contract with Renault Formula 1 with immediate effect.”
“ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship. As announced on 16 February of this year, ING decided not to renew the three year sponsorship (2007-2009) contract with Renault F1 and to end its presence in Formula 1 after the 2009 season.”
Both companies are able to exit because of breach of contract. But the timing is interesting, coming right at the start of the Grand Prix weekend. An announcement of this kind is bound to create headlines, but especially so in the hotbed atmosphere of a race weekend. It’s a serious blow to Renault and begs the question as to what sponsors it may be able to find for 2010.
Total oil was said to be stepping up its spend on the team for next year. So far the French oil giant is still on board, but if it too goes, then it will be hard for any company to associate itself with the team and Renault’s continued participation in F1 must be open to doubt.