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Formula 1

F1's craziest and most unusual sponsors

Over the years, some downright bizarre sponsorship deals have been signed in F1. Here's a few of the strangest we've seen..

Article
To news overview © "Surtees TS19, Goodwood, Festival of Speed 2014" by Hammerhead27 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While Formula 1 is usually quite a stuffy, corporate world with sponsorships signed by blue-chip companies and high-end brands, there's been a few glaring exceptions over the years. Exceptions that have made headlines for the wrong reasons, or have just been wildly out of place with F1's image.

Here's just a few of those crazy sponsors seen over the years..

Durex

Back in 1976, at the height of the Niki Lauda & James Hunt era, the BBC opted not to show the Brands Hatch Race of Champions on television.

That was because the Surtees team, run by 1964 World Champion John Surtees, had signed a deal with the London Rubber Company to run with Durex condom branding plastered all over their cars.

In a much more conservative age, it led to uproar with Murray Walker describing the situation in his autobiography.

"As far as the BBC was concerned a visible Durex logo was totally unacceptable for family viewing.

"I arrived at Brands Hatch to be greeted by producer Ricky Tilling with
the words: 'Hi Murray, we'll know by 11am whether we're going to be on
air or not.'

"'What are you talking about, Ricky?'

"'Durex. We're not going to transmit the race unless Surtees agree to take it off their cars.'"

They did not, so the BBC packed up their cameras and left.

			© Haas F1
	© Haas F1

Rich Energy

A much more modern story, one with which most readers will be familiar but has already become legendary for all the wrong reasons.

The Haas F1 team announced a new title sponsor for 2019, a little-known energy drinks company from the UK called Rich Energy. Run by William Storey, a businessman with a bombastic approach to social media, the company was unusual in that it didn't appear to have any money according to its own accounts with the British government.

All appeared normal to start, but things turned nasty later in the summer. Rich Energy, plagued by court actions from other companies as their logo breached copyright law, started openly mocking Haas' underperformance on social media.

This very public mockery, quickly followed by Rich Energy 'terminating the contract' via a Twitter post just a few months into the deal, led to Haas agreeing to terminate the deal. As quickly as the drinks company came into the sport, they were gone again.

Penthouse

Penthouse were a regular F1 sponsor between 1975 and 1981, with the lad's mag partnering the cavalier Hesketh entry with James Hunt.

The sponsorship became famous in 1978, with Hesketh embracing a caddish image with Penthouse and Rizla deals, with a 'Penthouse Pet' lying down on the side of the car.

Hard to imagine nowadays, isn't it?

Xena: Warrior Princess

Yep, seriously.

The iconic kickass character, played by Lucy Lawless, was emblazoned on the side of the 1997 Tyrrell driven by Mika Salo and Jos Verstappen.

This deal was to promote the newly launched Channel 5 in the UK, and featured Xena on one side, and sidekick Gabrielle on the other side.

ABBA

Everyone's favourite Swedish pop band, ABBA briefly were on the side of an F1 car when Slim Borgudd entered the sport in 1981.

Having drummed for the band on his way to F1, Borgudd struck a deal with ABBA to help him raise his profile and try to attract more sponsors when he raced for ATS that year.

However, it didn't work, and his career ended as quickly as it started.

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