£150m Heineken boost for Formula One
Formula One last night announced a sponsorship deal with Heineken worth around £150m, which the drinks giant vows will revolutionise the sport, making it as big as the Champions League.
The agreement, due to last for seven years with a break clause at the end of 2020, should mean a sport which has almost no central marketing budget is promoted like never before.
The Dutch company has pledged to transform the way F1 is presented on social media, an area the sport's chief Bernie Ecclestone has been critical of in the past, and take the sport to millions of new fans.
Amid declining television audiences, falling from 600m to 400m over the past decade, and with the increasing switch to pay television, this is welcome news for a sport often mired in its own spiral of negativity.
Three-time world champion Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard, a 13-time grand prix winner, will be brand ambassadors for a partnership that will make Heineken title sponsor for three races a year.
There are no plans for Heineken branding on any cars, but the firm is working on being involved with teams such as Red Bull in other ways.
Gianluca Di Tondo, Heineken senior director, said the company had reached 2.5billion people with its campaigns around this year's UEFA Champions League, and believed the same could be done with Formula One.
Di Tondo said. "Can we make F1 as big as the Champions League? Honestly, I think so. The point is to go beyond the races."