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How Williams' Gulf deal is papering over the sponsor cracks

The recent Williams/Gulf sponsor tie up looks good on paper, but the FW45 itself, tells a different story.

As Williams pat themselves on the back for a launch well-done, all must be content at the Grove HQ as a big-name Formula 1 sponsor has come aboard. Gulf International has signed a deal with the squad with the logo being plastered on the FW45 - the 2023 livery of which was revealed on Monday for drivers Alexander Albon and Logan Sargeant. Indeed, chairman Matthew Savage said that he felt in drawing the sponsor away from McLaren - as readers may recall RacingNews365.com revealed back in January - the team showed it still had "strength" to operate commercially. Be that as it may, but RacingNews365.com's sources indicate that the deal is not worth more than $4 million and that McLaren did not exactly pull out the stops to prevent Gulf heading out the Woking exit door. When the likes of Petronas or Mobil 1 are paying sums that require an extra '0' on the end, it makes the Gulf deal rather small in comparison. It's not only this, but Savage's perceived "strength" of the Williams brand has only lured one other new sponsor in - while some pretty major ones have been lost. It paints a picture of a team that also needs to focus on the commercial operation as well as the technical arm - which will be the remit of incoming Team Principal James Vowles.

Williams show strength

RacingNews365.com previously reported that in their 2021 accounts, Williams had revenues of £96 million in the first year of the F1 cost cap regulations. Prize money equalled around the £48 million mark, with a further £16 million or so coming through the drivers - then George Russell and Nicholas Latifi. A further £14 million was an exceptional payment after debt deduction after the IP rights to Williams were transferred to an Dorilton Capital subsidiary. This meant about £16 million or so was derived from sponsors - largely those linked to Latifi, including Sofina, a food brand owned by his father Michael, to ease his passage in the second car. Other included Acronis, Versa and Ponos, but these were relatively small deals, certainly no-where near like what Oracle pay to be stuck on the side of the Red Bull. To compensate for this, Duracell and Bang and Olufsen were also brought aboard - both being given prominent space on the FW44 machine - with the airbox of the car being turned into a Duracell battery during races in the Americas. But while Duracell and the bunny are still around for 2023, B&O are not. A check on the morning of February 6th showed the audio company still listed as one of Williams sponsors, but by the time of the launch in the afternoon, it had been removed, as what was planned to be a multi-year deal ended after just a single campaign with the bags of Danish Krone disappearing.

Sargeant linked sponsor?

Along with Gulf, the other big brand to join Williams in 2023 is that of Stephens as the "Official Investment Banking Partner." RacingNews365.com's sources indicate that Stephens are linked to Sargeant, who like predecessor Latifi is effectively paying for his seat. There are a further assortment of brands joining the team for the new season as deals with Acronis, the Financial Times, Bremont and Umbro all roll over. But are Michelob ULTRA, and PureStream going to be bringing the financial firepower Williams need to work up to the cost cap limit in 2023? Although Gulf do have a rich history in motorsport and the deal with Williams is certainly a good PR move, the deal is not quite what is appears on paper with the team seemingly shuffling its cards around just to end up with the same hand. And if you're not going forwards in Formula 1, you are going backwards. RacingNews365.com has approached Williams for comment over the departure of Bang and Olufsen.

RESULTS 2024 F1 Chinese Grand Prix - Sprint Shootout