Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

What of Vodafone? // The controversy at McLaren could spell bigger things with their sponsors

Published by Mr. C

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes truck

The one thing that's not been mentioned during the McLaren vs. Ferrari controversy, is how this affair might affect the relationship between the team from Woking and their number one sponsor.

What of it, you may ask? Well, back in 2005, just before Vodafone decided to switch sponsorship partners from the Scuderia Ferrari Marlborough team to the then West McLaren Mercedes team, there was a lot of talk that the telecommunications company could instead choose to sponsor the FIA Formula One Word Championship.

Thus far, there has never been a title sponsor of the Formula One series, but it's not unusual to find something similar in the United States, for example the NASCAR series is sponsored by Nextel and the championship is known as the NASCAR Nextel Cup. It was also back in 2005 that Vodafone decided to split as sponsor of the football team Manchester United and instead take title honours in the UEFA Champions League.

It's therefore very possible that such a move was given heavy consideration, but ultimately the decision was taken to go with McLaren Mercedes.

As it happens, the arrival of Vodafone co-incided rather nicely with the arrival of a certain Lewis Hamilton and a timely resurgence in form for the Woking team. With hindsight then, the move seems to have been the right one.

Of course, that was until 7 days ago.

During the past week almost every single story relating to F1 has some mention of the phrases 'espionage' and 'Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes'. No matter the reason for the current situation, no matter the cause or indeed the final outcome, you have to agree that right now, somewhere behind a tinted glass façade, the machinations that will one day see a telecommunications company sponsoring the FIA Formula One World Championship are already in motion.

Because in the end, whatever crisis rocks the world of Formula 1, the FIA always come out of it whiter than white. And that has to be a factor when you're a multinational company such as Vodafone.