Despite being linked with both Sauber and the Malaysian backed Lotus team, Malaysian oil company Petronas has signed as title sponsor for Mercedes for 2010.
Malaysia’s first – and so far only – Formula One driver Alex Yoong, who is now head of driver development for Lotus, has expressed his despair at the deal on Twitter.
“Petronas signs with Mercedes GP,” he wrote. “Words fail me. Mercedes is a good team, no doubt, but what Lotus is doing is completely ground-breaking and brave and Petronas not seeing that fills me with shame.”
The exact length and value of the Petronas deal has not been announced, but team principal Ross Brawn welcomed the news.
“Everyone at Mercedes GP is delighted to confirm our long-term agreement with Petronas and we look forward to working closely with our new partner in the future,” he said. “Our plans for the new season are progressing well, as is the development of our 2010 challenger, and we look forward to seeing the car run in the new Silver Arrows and Petronas livery at the Valencia test in February.”
The sponsorship is good news for Mercedes, after German consumer goods company Henkel announced it would not be honouring a deal with the team as it was brokered by an unauthorised member of staff. However, Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug said the contract with Petronas would ensure the team’s competitiveness in 2010.
“Within the limits of the new Formula One resource restrictions, the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team will be well positioned to achieve our goals. We will all strive to present efficient success in the future knowing at the same time that the new season, with some fundamental rule changes, will be a particularly challenging one.”