Lotus has ended a long period of speculation by announcing that Coca-Cola is entering F1 as a sponsor.
It had been rumoured that McLaren could secure the deal, but in fact Lotus said Coca-Cola, the iconic soft drinks brand, will place the logo of its Swedish energy drink Burn on its 2013 car.
Like reigning world champion Red Bull’s market-leading drink, Burn is a high sugar, high caffeine energy drink involved in extreme sports marketing including snowboarding, skiing and skateboarding.
“We are proud that The Coca-Cola Company has chosen Lotus as the best vehicle to represent the Burn brand in its most high profile partnership,” said team boss Eric Boullier.
Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that if Coca-Cola enters Formula One as a sponsor, it would do so with one of its ‘energy drink’ brands.
It was reported earlier this year that Coke, arguably the most recognised brand name on earth, could be eyeing F1. Sources had told the business journalist Christian Sylt that McLaren could ultimately win the deal, replacing the British team’s flagging title backer Vodafone.
Asked about the rumours, Ecclestone told Eurosport: “The president of Coca-Cola is a very good friend of mine but the head of marketing has always said he didn’t think Formula One was good for them.”
But the F1 chief executive admitted that “if they do come in I think they will come in with one of their energy drink brands, not Coke itself.”
Sylt said Coca-Cola’s leading energy drink brand is Relentless, which according to Wikipedia “has been compared to energy drinks such as Red Bull”.
Ecclestone, however, warned: “You wouldn’t want to take Red Bull on.”
Rumours continue to swirl over the possibility that Coca-Cola is looking to enter the world of F1 as a sponsor. Journalist Christian Sylt recently suggested that the drinks brand are contemplating sponsoring McLaren.
However McLaren currently have another drinks sponsor, Lucozade, leading some to rubbish the Coca-Cola rumours.
However two well-placed sources insist that the Coke rumours are real. One of the sources said he can prove that Coca-Cola’s global head of sports sponsorship has been obtaining detailed data on the beverage sponsorships sector in F1. He said Coke has “more than a passing interest” in the sport.
The other source, meanwhile, said the Coke/McLaren link is so strong that a potential 2014 McLaren livery has been contemplated that harks back to McLaren’s classic red and white of the 80s and 90s.
McLaren’s current grey/silver livery dates back to 1997, but its engine partner Mercedes’ rival works cars are now also coloured similarly. Moreover, the Woking based team will begin to pay for its Mercedes engines from 2013, as Force India does already.
“If McLaren goes ahead and switches its livery it would make sense to do it for a brand as big as Coke,” said Sylt on Wednesday.
Coca-Cola, arguably the most recognised brand name in the world, could become McLaren’s next title sponsor.
It emerged recently that the famous British team’s current main backer, Vodafone, is reviewing its major sponsorships. According to the German-language website motorsport-total.com, business journalists Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid said Coke would be “an ideal replacement”.
The report said Coca-Cola spends about EUR 80 million on the Olympic Games every four years, according to Street and Smith’s Sport Business Journal.