The title sponsorship deal between Martini and Williams will conclude at the end of the 2018 season, deputy team principal Claire Williams has confirmed.
Martini returned to Formula 1 at the start of the 2014 season as title sponsor to Williams, in turn reviving an iconic livery featuring the Martini stripes. The first two years of the deal saw Williams finish third in the constructors’ championship, but it dropped to fifth in 2016 and failed to improve on that result last year.
“Martini are leaving us at the end of this year,” Williams said during testing in Barcelona on Tuesday. “It’s the end of their contract and we have been in discussion for many months now about an extension beyond 2018 as you would expect.
“They have been a really important partner of ours for the last five years and we were incredibly lucky that they chose to join the team back in 2013 – we were ninth in the championship back in 2013, so to be able to attract a brand like Martini as a title partner in our position is pretty impressive and showed a lot of faith on their part.
“They have had a very successful time with us and achieved their objectives and I think every brand is entitled to evolve their marketing objectives over time, as you would expect, and that’s what Martini are doing. They are withdrawing not just from Williams but the whole of Formula 1 and you won’t see them on another team in 2019.
“Really for us now it’s about enjoying the next 12 months we have them. As I’ve said we’ve had a great time with them, they have been a great partner to have on board and we have done some great things and they have achieved the results they wanted to. This year is their 50th year as well so they will be looking forward to celebrating that with them, like we enjoyed celebrating our 40th anniversary last year.
“So we’ve got some good plans and we just thank them for the support they’ve given us and the faith that they’ve shown us. We feel that they felt the same about us and we delivered them two thirds in the championship in 2014 and 2015 and we wish them well.”
Losing its title sponsor will have a knock-on impact on the Williams budget, but the deputy team principal is optimistic it will be able to make up the difference with new deals.
“As you would expect with us being an independent team we have a very active commercial department who are always looking for new partners. We brought in new partners over the winter and we have a very good partner community at the moment.
“I don’t want to sit here and say we are now looking for a title partner because it’s not about looking for a title partner, it’s about ensuring we have the budget to go racing, whether that comes from a new title partner coming on board or a new group of partners we will have to wait and see how the situation evolves over the course of the year.
“Being a listed company, everyone can see our results and we are financially stable at the moment. I can’t talk too much about it because we are in a closed period, but we are not unduly concerned about them moving at the end of the year.”