Friday, July 31, 2020

Reunited Partners Gulf and McLaren Set to Make New History

Photo Credit: McLaren North America

In auto racing, an ongoing adage exists that states “money buys speed”. Recognized as the top echelon in motorsport, Formula 1 has been a spot of widespread investment for decades. Though having the largest bank account has not always guaranteed success, teams with greater finances tend to find effective avenues to apply money. It has been incredibly evident in recent years for all teams to secure a sponsor willing to spend millions in exchange for having their name on even a small part of the vehicle or team equipment is precious. Unlike in NASCAR or IndyCar, Formula 1 teams retain the same team colours throughout a season leaving sponsor brands in relatively the same position throughout an annual tour.

As an 8-time constructors’ champion and with nearly 55 years in Formula 1, McLaren has been involved with a number of companies. McLaren’s heyday in grand prix racing is connected to tobacco company Marlboro with another cigarette brand West taking over through the 1990s into the mid-2000s. With Mercedes-Benz divesting from the organization in order to support their own factory team (now the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team), McLaren has looked to the future by looking at the past adopting a blue and orange colour scheme. Coming prior to the Tobacco money, one of the earliest sponsors was the Gulf Oil brand. Starting with the 2020 British Grand Prix race weekend, McLaren and Gulf rekindles their relationship in a major agreement.

For what is described as a multi-year deal, the petroleum brand has entered into a multiple level arrangement positioned with the McLaren Group. The most visible component of the partnership is found on the Renault-powered McLaren MCL35 race cars driven by Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris. Through the rest of the 2020 Formula 1 season, the Gulf Oil International's branding will now be involved with McLaren on track with logos placed on the engine covers and the wing mirrors. The British Grand Prix will be the first time since 1973 that the pairing will be seen together in a Formula 1 race. Gulf’s branding most recently appeared in mid-1990s on the McLaren F1 GTR that competed in sports car racing that included the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Beyond on-track activities in Formula, Gulf and McLaren will be partnered with their road cars. Starting in 2021, Gulf products will be promoted as the preferred lubricant by McLaren Automotive. Customers of vehicles including the McLaren GT and the McLaren 765LT will find Gulf brand lubricants inside their new supercar purchases. “Every supercar will have Gulf fuel and lubricants when it leaves the McLaren Production Centre and I know our customers will be thrilled to be able to work with our in-house bespoke team on the option of being one of the few to be able to personalize their McLaren supercar in the iconic Gulf livery.” said Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Automotive Mike Flewitt. Available through the McLaren Special Operations, a limited number of McLaren customers can acquire a supercar featuring a hand-painted Gulf colour scheme resembling the McLaren F1 GTR car. The Gulf name will also be affiliated with McLaren’s customer events.
A rebirth of an old partnership, both McLaren and Gulf Oil have undergone major changes since 1973. The original deal with the oil company came while the motorsport car builder’s founder Bruce McLaren was still alive. After McLaren’s passing, the Formula 1 team was managed by American Teddy Mayer through the 1970s. After being under Ron Dennis’ control through the early 1980s to the 2010s, the McLaren organization now operates through an ownership group headed by the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company. Gulf merged Standard Oil of California (now called Chevron Corporation) in 1984 but the familiar name has continued to be found across the world. Gulf Oil International is owned by the Hinduja Group and currently operates the brand outside of the United States. Despite the journey by both companies, their appearance together again looks to recount good old times.

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