It’s no secret that McLaren has lost some (if not all) of its winning form over the past few years, and that’s had an unfortunate effect on its sponsors. Now the team has reportedly lost another longtime partner as ExxonMobil is said to be departing for Red Bull.
McLaren started using Mobil1 petroleum products in its F1 cars 21 years ago. Since then, the British team and its fuel/oil partner have won four world championships and 78 grand prix victories, but those mostly came earlier in their partnership. The team hasn’t so much as scored a podium finish in the past two seasons, hasn’t won a race since 2012, a drivers’ championship since 2008 and a constructors’ title since 1998.
That drop in form has apparently made it easier for Red Bull to lure ExxonMobil away. And it wouldn’t be the first time, either: Red Bull recently poached McLaren’s longtime timekeeper TAG Heuer with a more prominent partnership that has the Swiss watchmaker rebranding Renault engines for use in the energy drink team’s cars.
This latest development will see McLaren-Honda lose the Mobil1 and Esso logos off its increasingly blank black cars, but Motorsport.com reports that it could already have a replacement lined up. Though still unconfirmed, BP is tipped to return to the series as McLaren’s new petro partner.
The British giant was last present in F1 back in 1994, and could use its new deal with McLaren to help repair its image in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010. The arrangement could see McLaren running BP fuel and Castrol lubricants in its Honda engines. Word has it that Renault could make the switch as well, as its longtime partner Total withdraws from the sport.