Official: Renault announces HP sponsorship

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In an age of economic depression and the nation of Greece teetering on financial collapse, it is an encouraging sign to know that F1 has not lost its luster completely. There is no question that sponsorship dollars are hard to come by in F1 and the prevailing winds carrying stories of good teams and drivers sitting on the couch this season for lack of sponsor dollars.

The concern was echoed last year when former FIA president Max Mosley suggested a financial crisis could drastically affect F1 and in many ways, he was correct. Honda, BMW, Toyota and 75% of Renault left the series under financial duress although they claimed it was their penchant for saving the planet through “green” technology that prompted their departure.

The good news? Sponsors are coming back to F1. With billions of viewers each year, it is hard to underestimate the reach, frequency and power of an F1 marketing campaign. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is certainly correct when he states that F1 is one of the best marketing vehicles in the world.

Today Renault F1 announced a new partnership with HP bringing much needed sponsor dollars to the team. You will recall the team sold 75% of it’s control to Genii Capital this year leaving Renualt F1 in somewhat concerned territory. Some suggestions had them leaving the sport in 2011.

Here is the presser:

Renault F1 Team today announced a major sponsorship agreement with HP, the global technology leader, for 2010 and 2011. This new agreement will see significant HP branding appear on the Renault F1 R30 race cars from the 2010 Bahrain GP onwards.

Building from a successful technology relationship initiated in 2009, the new sponsorship agreement has three goals: to strengthen technology cooperation between the two companies; to promote their shared values of innovation, excellence and competition; and to increase HP brand awareness and customer engagement in developing markets.

As part of the agreement, Renault F1 Team will gain access to HP technology in order to further boost on-track performance, develop more powerful digital simulation technologies using HP High Performance Computing servers, and gain access to innovative market-leading tools such as the High Definition HP SkyRoom videoconferencing system.

HP will also work with the team to reduce its carbon footprint through the use of ‘green’ data centres, and 90% recyclable, low-energy-consumption workstations.

“We are delighted to welcome a global leader of the stature of HP to our partner network,” commented Renault F1 Team Chairman Gérard Lopez. “F1 has a proven ability to boost brand awareness around the world, and we are proud that Renault F1 Team will be HP’s partner of choice in achieving this goal.

“Genii Capital believes that F1 can also be used as a very powerful business development platform. We hope that HP can develop new business opportunities through Genii Capital’s B2B platform and Mangrove Capital’s access to exciting technology opportunities.”

Eric Cador, Senior Vice President, Personal Systems Group HP EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), commented: “We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with the Renault Nissan Group and to provide the Renault F1 Team the best of our technology to support them in their quest for victory.”

I have a particular view of this as a real positive. The reason? I feel that the Genii Capital investment had some major question marks as to their ability to fund and run an F1 team. What was their long-term commitment? how much cash were they prepared to put in?

Today’s announcement is a very good sign that not only is Genii Capital willing to invest, but they also have the brand equity to lure big sponsors and not just technical partners.

I am very encouraged by the news as I am sure Renault F1 is as well and I think this could be a good sign for seeing the team in F1 for several years to come. I also see this as a sign of F1 returning to it’s obvious position as a terrific vehicle for marketing dollars in the business world. A win-win? I think so.

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