The Renault team’s title sponsor ING Group announced on Monday that it was pulling out of Formula One at the end of the 2009 season.
“In light of the recently announced cost reduction programme, ING confirmed today not to renew the three year sponsorship (2007-2009) contract with Renault F1 and to end its presence in F1 beyond the 2009 season,” ING said in a statement.
As well as backing the former world champions, who have Spain’s 2005 and 2006 world champion Fernando Alonso as their main driver, ING have been heavily involved in trackside advertising.
They are the official sponsors of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 29 as well as those in Belgium, Hungary and Turkey.
In addition, the Dutch financial group had on-track branding at 13 of last season’s 18 races.
The group announced last month that they would cut operating expenses by $1.29 billion in 2009 as well as scrapping 7,000 jobs worldwide out of a total 130,000.
ING were by far the largest sponsor on Renault’s books and, according to estimated figures published in a Formula Money report last year, the second largest in the sport.
The report estimated that ING were paying some $86 million annually into the sport, with around $65 million of that going to Renault.
US F1 Team with Patrick from 2010?
Madrid: An American team will be racing in Formula One from 2010, and IndyCar driver Danica Patrick is a candidate to fill one of its seats.
USF1, which will be officially unveiled on February 24, will have a staff of at least 100, a working budget of euro50 million (USD 64 million) and an aim to put two American drivers on the starting grid. The team is looking at testing out a number of candidates, especially the 26-year-old Patrick.
“She’s great. She gets a lot of press,” USF1 technical director Ken Anderson said.