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McLaren deny to start season
Alan Baldwin |
December 15, 2004 13:14 IST
McLaren denied on Tuesday that they could start the Formula One season in March without tobacco sponsor West.
"West continue to be the team's title partners and they will be on our car for the Australian Grand Prix," a team spokesperson said.
Scotland's Sunday Herald newspaper quoted a 'company insider' last weekend as saying that drinks giant Diageo had agreed a 36 million pound ($69.40 million) deal for its Johnnie Walker whisky brand to sponsor McLaren.
It said the title sponsorship deal could be in place as early as March but was understood to take effect no later than July 31.
Neither Diageo nor Imperial Tobacco, who in 2002 took over the German Reemtsma group that owns the West brand, had any comment.
Diageo are involved in the U.S. NASCAR championship, becoming the first spirits brand to enter that series since sponsorship rules were relaxed for 2005.
New European Union laws governing tobacco advertising come into force at the end of July next year. West are Mercedes-powered McLaren's title sponsors.
Imperial, in results published last month, listed under exceptional items costs relating to "agreed renegotiation of the Formula One contract due to legislative constraints, effective during the second half of 2005".McLaren said also that they were always looking for new sponsorship and would be announcing some new partners "in due course".