SINGAPORE - McLaren has reportedly suffered yet another sponsorship blow.
‘CRIPPLING BLOW’ TO MCLAREN: McLaren’s loss of potential sponsor Johnnie Walker to Bernie Ecclstone, could be a "crippling blow" for the team. Image: AP/ Luca Bruno
On the eve of the 2014 Singapore GP, Bernie Ecclestone unveiled whisky brand Johnnie Walker as a new official sponsor for the sport.
Speed Week asked the F1 chief executive how he always manages to collect top backers, while the teams themselves are struggling commercially.
LOSING JOHNNIE WALKER
Ecclestone commented: "The teams also have great sponsors. Johnnie Walker has sponsored one of the teams."
He was, of course, referring to McLaren, the team that in the wake of Vodafone's departure has failed to sign a new title sponsor in 2014.
Not only that, amid McLaren's performance slump, long-time sponsor Hugo Boss jumped ship to Mercedes. According to the Mirror newspaper, McLaren is losing Johnnie Walker as well.
F1 correspondent Byron Young said that as the drink brand's parent Diageo signs up with Ecclestone, its withdrawal of the McLaren deal is a "crippling blow" for the team.
Young said: "The decision will come as another embarrassment for boss Ron Dennis who has refused to cut his rate card despite the recession."
'I'M NOT SCARED'
Ironically for McLaren veteran Jenson Button, however, the financial struggles in F1 could now be his best chance to stay on the grid beyond 2014.
If the pitslane drops below ten teams, Ecclestone will ask the richer teams to bolster numbers by running third cars.
Button said he would prefer if his talks with Dennis result in a new deal on its own merit.
Button said: "I talk to Ron a lot. It's all moving along fine. I'm not scared of anything.
"I would rather not have to think about the only way I have a career next year is with a three car team. I like F1 the way it is."