Splash from Singapore ’08
Insurance company pulls premium and bank loses interest
By Nasir Hameed
From the “why am I not surprised?” folder comes the hard drive that both Spanish insurance giant Mutua Madrilena and Dutch banking behemoth ING are pulling the plug on their sponsorship of UK-based French Formula 1 Renault team.
Destroying the careers of team principal Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds-not to mention hardly winning any friends in the F1 paddock by his actions or driving performance-may not be the only casualties of Nelson Piquet Junior’s rage against his own former racing team.
Both Mutua Madrilena and ING have decided to end their association with immediate effect, ironically, on the eve of the same race where the “deliberate crash” took place last season, the night time Singapore Grand Prix.
The Spanish insurance company came as a package deal with the return of Fernando Alonso to Renault last year. Statement from the company as quoted by the Spanish media said, according to the contract, “Renault must comply with all the FIA rules and regulations at all times as a competitor in the world championship.”
Renault’s “substantial breach” has resulted in immediate termination of the contract.
Mutua Madrilena will continue to stand by its home boy Alonso.
ING, the banking company had already announced they were bailing out of Formula 1 at the end of the 2009 season following the global financial meltdown. The orange lion will no longer be roaming the streets of Singapore as the company has cancelled its sponsorship agreement with immediate effect also.
A statement from the company, issued hours after Mutua Madrilena’s announcement, said, “ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship. As announced on 16 February of this year, ING decided not to renew the three year sponsorship (2007-’09) contract with Renault F1 and to end its presence in Formula 1 after the 2009 season.”
ING trackside signage will continue to be seen till the end of the season.
Renault. Will they go?
Amid global recession and slump in car sales, bad publicity from the Crash-gate saga, CEO, Carlos Ghosn, Brazilian of Lebanese heritage but no lover of Formula 1, departing high-paying sponsors, and almost departed star driver, it will come as no surprise if Regie calls for a total recall from the Formula 1 landscape. History has shown them the exit door twice before.
Third time could be Formula 1’s harm.
Renault removing ING and Mutua Madrilena decals overnight.
Hamilton on top in the final free practice session.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:47.632 15
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:47.909 + 0.277 17
3. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:48.332 + 0.700 18
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:48.420 + 0.788 14
5. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:48.501 + 0.869 16
6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:48.526 + 0.894 13
7. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:48.551 + 0.919 16
8. Glock Toyota (B) 1:48.673 + 1.041 17
9. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:48.754 + 1.122 17
10. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:48.757 + 1.125 12
11. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:48.831 + 1.199 17
12. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:48.864 + 1.232 16
13. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:48.876 + 1.244 15
14. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:48.921 + 1.289 17
15. Alonso Renault (B) 1:49.032 + 1.400 15
16. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:49.055 + 1.423 16
17. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:49.122 + 1.490 17
18. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:49.399 + 1.767 17
19. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:49.641 + 2.009 16
20. Fisichella Ferrari (B) 1:50.039 + 2.407 21