Strange F1 Sponsors that Graced the Sport

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December 9, 2017 8:45 pm

So the 2017 F1 cars looked rad and unfortunately they will be the last of the breed. For next year onwards we are going to have Halo equipped cars. Also, the sharkfins will go away. Apparently, there was much fuss about the Shark Fins as all the teams wanted to retain it bar McLaren. The reason? Well, elimination of the Shark Fin will decrease the surface area to be used for Sponsorship advertisement.

Force India was quite vocal against this elimination. For they were hurt the most by this move. In an age where juggernauts like McLaren has suffered from attracting Sponsors, Force India, on the other hand, has their hands full. Agreed that those sponsors do not bring in a huge amount of money, but hey it’s the drops that make up the ocean.

Talking about Force India and sponsors, one cannot rule out the pink livery the Silverstone based team donned this year. Affectionately called the pink panthers, the pink livery was the result of BWT becoming a major sponsor of Force India. BWT or Best Water Technology is a manufacturer of water treatment systems.

But if you think that BWT’s pink sponsorship is strange, then you’re in for a treat. Let’s head inside to read about some Strange F1 Sponsors.

  1. Penthouse Magazine

Penthouse got into bed with Hesketh Racing after they got out of bed with James Hunt in 1975. Along with Rizla rolling papers, the magazine remained in F1 until 1981. when the Hesketh team folded in 1978, it resulted in Penthouse moving their sponsorship to Arrows.

The first ever result of this sponsorship was the Hesketh 308E. The 308E gained particular notoriety owing to Hesketh’s team sponsors in 1977 – Penthouse and Rizla – and the resultant livery which incorporated a large rendering of a scantily-clad Penthouse Pet embracing a Rizla packet.

F1 is a glamorous world. Penthouse portrayed it literally to kick off the Strange F1 Sponsors list.

2. Samson Tobacco

The Shadow DN9 by the Shadow team is famous for two things. It’s famous for Elio de Angelis’s surprise 4th place in ’79 US Grand Prix. It’s also famous for having being copied by the Arrows team.

The car is not famous for a reason I believe it should have been famous for. And that one thing is it’s livery.

The 1979 DN9 featured a striking Lion head featuring from the front to the mid of the car. The Lion looked like painted by a Graffiti artist. Sadly, the car wasn’t as fiery as Lion so as to say.

Samson Tobacco Company, shadow’s new sponsor, required their Logo to be put up on the car. 

This Holland-based company had the face of a Lion as its logo. And hence required the team to put it on the car as well. And the result was that Samson earned a place in the Strange F1 Sponsors list.

3. Honda 

In 2007, the Honda Group came up with its Earth Dream plan to stress upon Environmental awareness. The plan involved a new range of engines which would be more efficient than their previous versions. The plan also involved developing new engines.

The Group took a bold step and showed a completely new take on the look of its Formula One car. The car’s livery depicts the planet Earth against the black background of space, with the only logos on the car being the Type R Honda ‘H’, and the Bridgestone logo, all at the very front of the car. This is the first time in 30 years that a Grand Prix car has gone to the grid without a sponsored permanent livery.

Honda’s 2007 car features prominently in F1 Livery lists and therefore Honda too made it to our Strange F1 Sponsors list.

4. HRT 

The perennial backmarker team of F1, the Hispania Racing team struggled to get sponsors onboard. So how do they lure sponsors?

There’s space on the car for Sponsor’s advertisement. So why not use that space to advertise yourself?

You have to admit there’s a little bit of smart thinking happening over here. In 2011 the HRT did exactly that. The prominent spaces on the car were used like a billboard advertisement stating that space was available for advertisement.

Did it work? Well not exactly. Was it strange? Enough to make it to our Strange F1 Sponsors list.

5. T-Minus 

The team was short of funds with the lack of a major sponsor and the chassis was a development of the A19, which had not been too competitive itself.

At the start of the year a colourful Nigerian prince, Malik Ado Ibrahim, bought a 25% shareholding in the team, and his T-Minus brand appeared on the cars for most of the year. However, he too could not provide sufficient funding.

The idea behind the T-Minus brand was that companies and corporations would purchase the rights to use the name. The Companies then would be permitted to use the brand to promote their products. Malik stated that he had intentions to use the brand correspondingly with Lamborghini but a deal never pulled through. An Arrows employee of the time stated ‘The T-Minus brand has brought in absolutely no money over the year’ and carried on stating ‘It was simply a dream in the Prince’s head and nothing materialized.’

By late in the season, with the reality of the situation dawning on the team, Malik disappeared. When he failed to complete the purchase of his shares by a pre-arranged September deadline, Tom Walkinshaw effectively retook control of the team and the T-Minus branding vanished from the car. Consecutively, the Prince had left the paddock.

So it seems no one is safe from strange Nigerian Price hoax schemes and F1 is one of them.

And it’s worthy that this entry caps of the Strange F1 Sponsors list.

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