London: Formula One signed up Swiss bank UBS as a global partner on Monday in a deal the sport will hope marks a turnaround after the exit of several other financial institutions due to the economic crisis.
No financial details were given for a deal that will be presented formally at next month’s Singapore Grand Prix.
However Williams chairman Adam Parr, whose own team are losing Britain’s bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as a major sponsor at the end of the year, said the real importance of the deal was the message it sent.
“This is a very significant announcement, regardless of the size of the sponsorship,” he told Reuters. “The fact that another major bank is looking to Formula One as its primary global marketing platform is very positive.
“The signal that this will send is that other global players need to be looking at the fundamentals that F1 offers and not being influenced by ‘political correctness´,” he added.
“The bottom line is that Formula One sells products and services and intelligent companies can see the opportunities it offers.”
UBS was bailed out by the Swiss government during the financial crisis after massive investments in risky US assets forced it to make more writedowns than any other European bank.
The bank said last week it was launching an advertising campaign to woo back clients after posting strong results earlier this year.
“UBS has been searching for a global sponsorship platform that has appeal to our clients, promotes our brand globally and makes good commercial sense,” chief executive Oswald Gruebel said in a statement.
“Our new partnership with one of the largest and most popular sporting organisations in the world will fulfil all these criteria, and it constitutes a key element of our newly launched branding activities.”
RBS, now majority-owned by the British government after a multi-billion pound rescue, announced last year it would pull out of the sport when its deal with Williams expired at the end of 2010.
Dutch-based financial group ING, who had been Renault’s title sponsor, quit last year while Credit Suisse decided before the start of the 2009 season not to continue as a backer of BMW-Sauber.
In contrast, Spain’s Santander has increased its involvement by switching its main backing from McLaren to Ferrari while still sponsoring McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
The euro zone’s largest bank is also title sponsor of the Italian, British and German Grands Prix.
Formula One has 19 races in 18 countries across four continents this season. The Singapore Grand Prix on 26 September will be the 15th round of the championship.