McLaren will not announce a new title sponsor when their 2014 car is launched
Woking team stress biggest-ever operational budget, however
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 22/01/14 7:59am
McLaren: No sponsor announcement on Friday
McLaren have confirmed that they will not announce a new title sponsor when their 2014 car is launched on Friday, although they have claimed to possess their biggest-ever budget.
Speaking in an interview, McLaren Managing Director Jonathan Neale said that the unveiling of the MP4-29 chassis will not be accompanied by any new major backing as had been expected.
Instead, Neale stressed that the team are in a strong financial position owing to a string of long-term sponsors, including Hugo Boss, Tag Heuer and Hilton, as well as the desire of McLaren shareholders to re-invest profits rather than take dividends.
He also claimed that McLaren's budget for the 2014 season, when F1 undergoes a major technical shake-up, will be the largest in their history.
The Woking team announced in March last year that they would part ways with Vodafone, their title sponsor since 2007, at the end of the 2013 season.
At the time, they promised an "exciting announcement" in December but none was forthcoming - the anticipation being that a replacement would instead be revealed along with the new car on January 24.
Yet with that not now being the case, the obvious conclusion to draw is that McLaren will be without a title sponsor for the first time since the 2006 season.
Sky Sports understands that a new logo could yet appear on the cars to be raced this season by Jenson Button and rookie Kevin Magnussen. It's more likely, however, that the team will go without a title sponsor until 2015.
With McLaren re-forging their links with Honda in 2015, speculation has suggested a tie-up with Sony.
The news comes just a few days after Ron Dennis was re-appointed as the McLaren Group's CEO. The long-time Team Principal has promised to "write an exciting new chapter in the story of McLaren, beginning by improving our on-track and off-track performance" and sponsorship procurement will form part of his review.
Dennis's return comes after one of the most difficult seasons in McLaren's history and has also thrown into doubt the future of current team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
However, amid concerns that their new car might not be ready in time for pre-season testing, McLaren confirmed on Tuesday that their car has passed the FIA's series of mandatory crash tests ahead of next week's anticipated debut at Jerez.
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, starting in Jerez on Tuesday January 28, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.