The McLaren Formula One team and Petrobras have ended their technical partnership ‘by mutual consent’ less than two years into a five-year deal.
It was first reported in May that the state-owned Brazilian oil firm, which served as McLaren’s fuel supplier, was set to cut the deal short under pressure from Brazil’s government, which owns 64 per cent of the company.
McLaren have now confirmed the early termination of the agreement just weeks after Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, tweeted his intention to end the sponsorship deal, which he described as ‘an absurdity committed on the taxpayer by the previous government’.
“We would like to thank Petrobras for their partnership and support,” McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown said in a statement. “We have great respect for their technical and scientific capabilities, and there is no doubt the company’s technicians have made substantial progress in the time we have been working together. We wish everyone at Petrobras every success and hope to see them back in the sport again in the future.”
The financial terms of the contract had not previously been made public, but Bolsonaro’s thread of tweets cited the value of the agreement, which had been due to run until 2023, to be worth R$872 million (US$217 million).
Both McLaren and Petrobras said that the collaboration had produced ‘clear technological advances in fuels and lubricants’, adding that the partnership had ‘identified opportunities for future collaborations’ between the two companies.
“We recognise the importance of McLaren in global motorsport and we are very satisfied with the results delivered during the two years of our partnership,” added Roberto Castello Branco, Petrobras chief executive.
“The project allowed Petrobras to develop high-technology gasoline and lubricants through research with new raw materials and tests performed in extreme conditions. The technological development will be used in lubricant and fuel products. We see in McLaren a commitment to innovation and also the possibility of future partnerships.”
The announcement comes less than two weeks before the Brazilian Grand Prix, which takes place on 17th November.