Thursday, 24 September 2009

Renault loses backing of two major sponsors with immediate effect

Dutch financial group ING announced on Thursday evening that they are ending their title sponsorship deal with the Renault F1 team with immediate effect. Earlier in the day, Spanish insurance firm Mutua Madrilena also announced that they are terminating their sponsorship deal with the Formula 1 team effective immediately. Both the firms have confirmed that this sudden termination in their sponsorship agreement comes on the back of a disastrous race-fixing scandal engulfing the Renault F1 team in the last few weeks.

Although Mutua Madrilena will continue to sponsor Renault's double World Champion Fernando Alonso, they and ING have both asked Renault to remove their logos from the cars and other team areas. The sudden loss of ING will come as a big blow to the Enstone based outfit, because as the title sponsor, ING provided Renault with more than half their total sponsorship revenues.

"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 One with immediate effect," the company said.

"ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship."

Although ING was in line to end its Renault deal at the end of the current season, a sudden termination of contract during the season with four more races to go will surely catch Renault off-guard. Even without the sponsorship worries, Renault's future in Formula 1 had been in doubt ever since the race-fixing conspiracy came to light. The former World Champions have had almost three seasons in a row with dismal performances, including this season when they are yet to score even a podium finish. On top of that, the huge damage that has been caused to Renault's reputation by the race-fixing saga plus the possible financial worries that may arise now due to the loss of two major sponsors, the French team's Formula 1 future is in serious jeopardy.

The race weekend for the Singapore Grand Prix is almost upon us, and over the course of the weekend we will surely find out more details regarding Renault and their future in the sport. For viewers in the UK, first Free Practice for the Singapore Grand Prix starts at 1100 BST live on the BBC Red Button service and the BBC Sport website. Radio listeners can tune into BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra for live commentary from the Marina Bay street circuit.

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