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Renault adds to Russian flavour with Lada sponsorship
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Renault adds to Russian flavour with Lada sponsorship
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Mar 2010   |  12:51 pm GMT  |  66 comments

The Renault team’s strategy of pushing into Russia in search of commercial opportunity has yielded fruit with the signing of Lada as a sponsor for the team. This leads to the highly unusual situation of an F1 team displaying two car brands.

The deal was done with the blessing of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin and is more than anything else symbolic of Russian support for Vitaly Petrov and Renault F1′s programme. Renault has a 25% stake in Avtovaz, Lada’s parent company. Lada uses Renault platforms and transmissions.

Both cars will run with Lada branding and Petrov will carry the branding on his overalls. It is an important deal for the team as they rebuild after the commercial havoc wreaked by the Singapore crash scandal last year, which caused two sponsors, including title sponsor ING, to terminate their backing ahead of schedule. And let’s face it, there has been little significant new sponsorship coming into the sport over the winter.


Renault, now majority owned by Gerard Lopez, is looking to form strategic partnerships with automotive and tech companies in Russia and use F1 as the platform to grow partnerships together. Lopez going into Russia helps Bernie Ecclestone, with whom he has become close in recent months, as the F1 commercial guru has been looking for years to find a way into the Russian market and to establish the sport there.

“Through Mangrove Capital (Lopez’s investment arm) we have been actively investing in Russia over the last years, ” said Lopez. “We know the country well, we have a high degree of appreciation for it and, as such, it is an honour for our F1 team to spearhead Russia’s entry into the sport and to carry the Lada brand at the highest level of world motorsport. We look forward to an exciting and successful season together.”

Renault go into the new season unsure of where they stand in the pecking order, but satisfied that the car is a good base to work from, unlike last year’s model, which was tricky to set up and drive. Testing had gone okay up to Barcelona, but the team struggled there and it looked as though the Renault was around 7/10ths of a second off the pace.

However the team believes that it is closer than it appears to the front runners – the target for Bahrain is for Robert Kubica to get among the weaker drivers from the top four teams, but much will depend on the size of the upgrade packages each team brings. Williams and Force India looked faster in the final test and seem to be heading the group chasing the top four.

The team is being brought back up to speed on the aerodynamics side after staff cuts made by Flavio Briatore, which played a part in the difficulties of the last year’s car.

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66 Comments
  1. Jeremy says:

    Didn’t Williams have Leyland on the sidepods while running Ford Cosworth engines? Thats the only similar situation I can think of.

  2. Scott says:

    “This leads to the highly unusual situation of an F1 team displaying two car brands.”

    I know it’s a little bit different as they’re owned by the same firm but but Ferrari have had Fiat on their car for as long as I can remember. Also, Jaguar had Ford badges on them too didn’t they? (though, again, same firm).

    Renault have a stake in Lada’s parent company so maybe it’s not all that different.

    1. rpaco says:

      Nowadays I suppose a Jaguar team would have
      Tata sponsorship!

      1. Phil C says:

        Actually Tata Sponsored Ferrari in 2008 and 2009 i think. I know they’ve been on the sidepods of those red cars recently

  3. Myself says:

    …the car looks like it was made by Eddie Jordan.

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2433/3747033985_126675e4d4.jpg

    1. rpaco says:

      What car is this??? It has cigarette sponsorship on it (Balkan Sobranie, the choice of hippies, artists and goths and those “up themselves”)
      Also Tata, the Indian mega everything corp.
      Ahh yes I see its in a museum, panic over.

    2. Wish Bone says:

      What car is that?

    3. Phil C says:

      That’s the 2005 Jordan, Driven by Karthikeyan and Monteiro – probably why it has Tata branding

  4. monktonnik says:

    See, F1 is still a place where the motor manufacturers are welcome.

    Luca Di M’ must be thrilled to see Lada in the sport rather than a low grade privateer team.

    1. Laurence H says:

      That made me laugh out loud! I believe the kids say ‘lol’…

  5. Pawel says:

    Well I believe Renault are not showing their real speed: according to autosportlive Kubica has been lapping in mid-1m25s in a 17 lap mid-race-simulation stint (hopeful full-loaded) while other drivers weren’t much quicker – pls look at that chart below (produced by adam as of March 1st) http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y29/m444uk/f12010testbarcelona.png

    1. James Allen says:

      What are you doing looking at Autosport Live when you could have been following JA on F1 Tweets live feed?

      1. Jonathan says:

        ahaaaa!!!!

        You were linking Autosport Live too!!!!

      2. James, I think you meant “…SHOULD have been…”

      3. Pawel says:

        Honestly I found that commentary on Your Tweets clicking Kubica :)

      4. Martin P says:

        Funny you should say that… I went through JA on Tweets to follow the testing but I couldn’t find a feed from you… so I ended up on Autosport too.

        Clearly I was missing something obvious… but I have no idea what. There’s too much data for me to assimilate so I just click on the closest match I find and get off it quick!

      5. James Allen says:

        I will be doing a feed during race weekends if you follow the “Live from Bahrain” tab, including a live race commentary

  6. cube says:

    Williams and Force India are slower than the Renault. In long stints they were always far from Renault. But Renault never did quali simulations in Barcelona. And kubica said that Renault never ran low on fuel since Valencia.

    1. bill says:

      I wouldn’t get so excited about their form, first, lets see what they bring to bahrain

  7. Jake says:

    What about the constructor ‘BMW Sauber Ferrari’ on the FIA entry list, James? Two car brands in one team’s name! Unrelated I know, but any thoughts on why the BMW name is still there, given that Campos managed to turn into HRT at much less notice?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s got to do with the exit deal they struck with Sauber. Look at the car, the branding is still BMW like.

      1. Jonathan says:

        I don’t think it’s gonna hurt them, in fact it just makes commentators talk more about BMW, even though they are no longer in F1. That’s Value for money!

      2. Marcus says:

        I believe Renault did a market research study around 1998 to 2000 that showed that, even though they had left F1 a few years earlier, most people not only thought they were still in, but were doing well!

      3. monktonnik says:

        This is a pragmatic marketing approach from BMW that I don’t understand.

        I would have thought that they would be embaressed to have their name on there.

        If the Sauber does badly, they are associated with a bad car, if it does well you have to wonder why they weren’t so good with all they money, or question their approach.

        I just don’t get it.

      4. Paul says:

        A comment by Jake? Then a reply by Jonathan? Is this Humphries & Legard looking to this site for updates?

  8. Peter Jones says:

    Lada F1? So many jokes, so little time… ;-)

    1. rpaco says:

      Now watch it! Lada used to be a customer of mine; up in Carnaby in the same road as Mr Kipling. They tried, but the new EC3 regs put paid to their carburettor fed engines.
      Internationally what a huge ego boost for many less well off inhabitants of Balkan/Russian areas that can get F1 on telly.

      This reminds me of when I worked for Philips (millions of years ago) and went to an introductory meeting of the ICE (In car entertainment) committee of British Leyland or was it Rover group by then? Anyway they said “Tell us how big is Philips then because we don’t rate you as having sufficient resources even to talk to us” looking down their noses, “Well” we said, “We spend £1M per day on research, how does that compare with your budget?” They shut up then. Thus we perceive Lada and Tata only by our local impression, which can be very misleading.

      1. Martin P says:

        In car entertainment in a Leyland?

        Wasn’t that the hole in the floor so you could watch the tarmac go by?

  9. P Byrne says:

    “..the target for Bahrain is for Robert Kubica to get among the weaker drivers from the top four teams”

    Presuming by top teams you mean Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren & Red Bull? Arart from (maybe) Rosberg who in fairness is unproven in a top car I don’t think any of these teams have a weak driver – which is why the new season is so tantilising!

    BTW I can’t see an association with Lada being particularly good for Renault’s brand image outside of Russia. It’s a bit of marketing mish-mash…

    1. matt nz says:

      fully agree p byrne.

      ‘weaker driver in top 4′. Apart from Rosberg…who have you got. webber multiple race winner and very experienced. Vettel the new wunderkind and also a multiple race winner. Massa multiple race winner and near world champion…

      and then who are the other four?…oh that’s right, 4 world champions that between them have one every season for the past decade. Good luck kubica!

      1. wiseman says:

        well, i think its not like they’re necessarily weaker than kubica but weaker from the teams duo. also, many things can happen at the front.

        all in all, even in 2009 there were moments when Kubica batteled Vettel or Webber, doing quite succesful moves, though he was pushed out of track or corner, in the end :)

      2. bill says:

        If any of the top four team drivers has a bad day, makes a mistake, can not set the car up to his likings, gets grid penalty, not qualifies well, then kubica will have a chance to take advantage of the situation. There are no week drivers in the top teams but they are still human beings and they can be beat

  10. Alexis says:

    Lada.

    Oh dear.

    1. Henry says:

      Exactly. You know you are desperate when you put that badge on your car!

  11. Freespeech says:

    What a come down for a once great team, Renault carrying the Lada, sorry but I fail to see what good this does for Renault the motorcar manufacturer, maybe they intend to go down market (in jest)?

    1. bill says:

      Its sponsorship money to run the team and a bussines platform for lopez and renault, what is wrong with that? This will help keep rf1 competetive and fans entertained, I dont mind

    2. Alexis says:

      I don’t think Renault have a say on sponsorship, probably just that they have their branding on certain dominant areas of the car. Renault don’t even own the team and are a minority shareholder.

  12. Rons best mate! says:

    James, whats this about the slot in the back wing of the mclaren protest? Oh please let it be so that mclaren have another secret weapon to unleash this year and for hamilton / button to dominate!! :-) I still hanker for that feeling in 1998 when they had the raer brake, and melbourne was a total and utter demolition! I sat there just amazed – totally wished DC had not let MH through….Damn it! It still hurts!!

    1. Alex says:

      I assure you, most fans don’t share your wish of a dominating team this season, much less so if it’s done through exploiting a loophole in the regulations.

      1. rpaco says:

        On the contrary, the regs are written to be used up to the letter and the full stop and always have been. When people protest at a new interpretation of the regs it is because they didn’t think of it first.
        Next year if the FIA feel it unfair they will ban it, maybe even this year the scrutineers will chuck it out, however you may put a sizable sum down on the fact that McLaren have already checked and re-checked with the FIA as to it’s legality before spending megabucks developing it.
        Lets get it quite clear, there are the regs and that is it, there is no “Spirit of the regs”

      2. Rons best mate! says:

        Absolutely, as for the comment above by Alex “Alex Reply:
        March 4th, 2010 at 4:29 pm

        I assure you, most fans don’t share your wish of a dominating team this season, much less so if it’s done through exploiting a loophole in the regulations.”

        That is very strange, as “most” of the very best seasons in F1 have been loopholers!! ’92 Mansell? Active Suspension – ’98 Mclaren rear brake – Ferrari ( icant remember the year) alleged traction control ’09 brawn diffuser!!

        How can anyone say that pushing the envelope is not what F1 is ALL about, this isnt drug cheating its brain power!! Get over it… I am a tru die hard F1 fan and i totally love the way a clever engineer pushes th boundary. I have to say additionally that last year could have been all about Red Bull if Brawn hadnt done their bit, as Newey had a brilliant car, or it could have been Mclarens awesome KERS…. thats just the way the cookie crumbles!

      3. Rich C says:

        Regs is regs. Exactly.
        And all the complaining is from ppl that didn’t think of whatever it is. Thats pretty much traditional in F1.

      4. Zobra Wambleska says:

        You may be right, but who did that survey?

      5. rpaco says:

        Well as we happy ex-owners know you had to listen hard to make out which part was breaking or falling off at any particular time.

  13. Andy C says:

    Excellent, I have a load of old Lada jokes that I can dust off again.

    I imagine it is a get a link into F1 for Russia. No doubt Bernie is working on a Moscow GP with skis on the front and studded tyres on the back.

    Andy

    1. James Allen says:

      Let’s have them then..

      1. FletcherB says:

        A man walks into the auto-parts shop and says “I’d like a windscreen wiper for my Lada”.

        “Seems lika fair trade” says the assistant.

        Q. Why do lada’s have defrosters on the rear glass?
        A. To keep your hands warm while you push it.

        Q. Why do Lada’s have twin exhausts?
        A. So you can push them like a wheelbarrow.

        There’s heaps more…

      2. Rons best mate! says:

        Hey James EXCUSE ME !!! CAN WE HAVE THIS CHECKED PLEASE
        on careful examination the above jokes were Skoda ones, however they no longer apply.

        There must be some better ones!

      3. James Allen says:

        Repurposed jokes…

  14. Andy C says:

    Actually having owned a Renault from new that was ready for the heap at the end of 3 years I’m being unfair on lada jokes.

    1. Mario says:

      quite right. I had a Renault Clio once and it’s door handles wore down faster than it’s tyres and I switched to BMW about 10 years older than the Renault but the feeling was like it was actually 10 years ahead.

  15. Adam says:

    James, you wrote that both cars would have LADA’s logo, but you singled out Petrov carrying it on his overalls. Does that mean Kubica will not display LADA’s “glory”?
    It would actually make sens – LADA cars are not very much valued in Poland – rather the opposite is true.
    It kind of looks funny to see this branding on F1 cars :-)
    My first reaction to this news was “What, Lada ???”

    1. James Allen says:

      That is what Renault tell me

      1. Andy says:

        I would imagine that is more to do with the fact that Petrov will have a personal sponsorship with Lada, hence the logo’s on his race suit, whereas the logo’s on the car are the team sponsorship. It would appear that given the position of the brand on the car, it’s a big deal, not a very big deal, and this did not extend to logo’s on the suits.

        It may also be because Lada felt there was no need for the logo’s on the suits, given they already had one in place with Petrov. Why pay for two suit logo’s when the main man you are supporting already has one. That’s what I’d have done anyway…

    2. monktonnik says:

      From what my Polish friends tell me they are very loyal to their national brands. Kubica i sno exception

      Expect Kubica to carry the following Polish-centric sponsorship.

      Zywiec
      Tyskie
      Pan Tadeusz
      Zubrowka

      A couple of years ago we (me and at least 10 Polish guys) had a sweepstake for each GP for what position RK would finish the race. If you predicted anything other than a podium, there were serious problems. I said 5th once, not an experience I ever want to repeat. Still, 2008 was one of Button’s worst seasons and I didn’t take too kindly to anyone reminding me of that.

  16. Trent says:

    Definitely there’s a dearth of sponsorship in F1 2010 – so many blank engine covers!

    I’m intrigued to know the nature of Ferrari’s deal with Philip Morris (Marlboro); I understand they still receive funding from the tobacco firm without being able to display the brand name? What is the benefit to them?

    1. rpaco says:

      One could make a very good case for saying that the bar code is now a recognised logo of Marlborough and should be banned.

      I can only assume it was a 20 year deal or something, which both sides are holding to regardless of the ban. The wordmark cannot be used but maybe Ferrari have a smoking tent outside their main hostility suite, complete with Marlborough girls handing out cancer sticks.

  17. Martin P says:

    Oh how I wish Alonso was still there to take delivery of his orange Lada Riva courtesy car.

    1. Martin P says:

      Not to mention Flavio! It’d match his tan.

  18. Rich C says:

    Its just a guess but I think many ppl in Poland and other parts of “eastern” Europe are not especially fond of things Russian. So it might not be something Kubica would wear.

    1. bill says:

      actually, I think Poland lies right in the centre of europe so its not quite eastern europe, but i know what you mean

    2. Adam says:

      You are guessing right – thare are some historical reasons for that, but generally, things made in former USSR (and Lada is something that was developed then)were of very poor quality.
      There were quite some things that were built well in USSR (and later in Russia) – Lada cars were simply not in that category :-)
      On the other hand – I would still prefer to have LADA logo than those “Polish-centric” brands listed above – they are all alcohol beverages. They are something Polish people are fond of, but it is not really funny.

  19. Robert says:

    Hi James,

    It is amazing that there will be two cars with two manufacturers on them this year with Sauber having a BMW name and a Ferrari engine. Is there any reason why Pete Sauber has not got rid of the BMW part of the name? I am surprised Ferrari are happy to have their engines in a car of a team named after another company.

    Thanks

    Robert

  20. Mosq says:

    Come on! You cannot even imagine what a crap Lada as a car is and what a shitty financial situation the company is in. Rumours here in russia say that Lada haven’t gave a rouble to renault f1, but Gazprom (gas monopoly) did it in secret with no logos. Both companies are state owned. My only hope is that this Petrov move will awake autosport somehow…

    1. hispano-suiza says:

      what is russia national sport? and what else do you watch? i imagine football.

      1. Rich C says:

        Russian “nationa sport?” I thought it was pretty much spelled v o d k a ??

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