- Gulf will also sponsor driver academy and esports team
- Stephens joins as official investment banking partner
- Michelob Ultra and PureStream sign on as partners
The Williams Formula One team have unveiled a multi-year partnership with Gulf Oil.
Revealed at the team's headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire, the US-based brand joins the British team as an official partner, sponsoring Williams' driver academy and esports operation.
Gulf Oil branding will be visible on the new car, driver overalls, pitstop gantry, and some of the team's key pitstop personnel. There will be a number of yet-to-be-revealed activations throughout the season, with a focus on digitally-enabled fan engagement opportunities.
The new partnership brings much needed funds to a team that have struggled to bring in investment in recent years, especially considering the departure of Sofina Foods who were linked to former driver Nicholas Latifi.
Replacing a driver who brought substantial investment with Logan Sargeant, a graduate from the Williams' driver academy, compounds this loss of cashflow.
“You can't get around the fact that [the lack of] investment has been a problem,” said James Bower, commercial director of Williams Racing, at the official launch of the car. Although, he claimed that the “perception about lost revenue” are not necessarily the reality.
He continued: “I think we're in a more robust position than the team's been in for a number of years, and we are ambitious and aggressive in terms of how we are in the market as well and how we're investing in building the Williams brand.”
On 22nd December, Williams received UK£36 million (US$43.3 million) worth of investment, although at this point it is unknown whether this was made by the immediate parent company, Dorilton Capital, or if a third party has been brought in to help.
Gulf Oil was previously partnered with the McLaren Formula One team, a relationship that dated back to 1968. This partnership was most recently renewed in 2020, but it was confirmed at the end of last season that the partnership would not be extended any further.
Mike Jones, chief executive of Gulf Oil, commented: “We had a great partnership with McLaren, some real highlights – the Monaco livery being the pinnacle of that. Our arrangement with McLaren came to a natural end, we'd achieved everything we probably could with [the team], so we started looking at what was next for us in Formula One.
“We talked a lot to Williams around their plans, not just for 2023, but for the future. We really believed that Williams are going in the right direction, but it's very attractive for us to have sponsorship across the academy and esports.
“Gulf is known as the iconic brand, iconic is sometimes misinterpreted as old, and esports was very attractive to us because it attracts the younger generation.”
In addition to the unveiling of Gulf Oil, Williams Racing have also partnered with Stephens, Michelob Ultra and PureStream.
Stephens becomes the British team's official investment banking partner, while Michelob Ultra and PureStream sign on as official partners. Michelob Ultra is part of the Anheuser-Busch portfoilio, the brewer that was last partnered with Williams Racing back in 2006.
PureStream is also slated to co-host thought leadership events at select races throughout the 2023 season as part of its agreement.
There has been turbulence behind the scenes, with Jost Capito stepping down as team principal coming as a surprise, especially after carrying out an interview with Forbes looking ahead to the 2023 season.
Sources have indicated to The BlackBook that Capito's decision was not part of his planned retirement as has been reported, rather a reaction to certain behind-the-scenes decisions being made at Williams at the moment.
In his place, former Mercedes' chief strategist James Vowles has taken the reins, officially starting as the new team principal on 20th February. Notably, it is almost unheard of for a key member of personnel to leave a team like Mercedes without any form of gardening leave.
While this suggests an arrangement between Mercedes and Williams, potentially around the supply of engines, the scale of the job that Vowles has waiting for him can not be understated.