McLaren’s vastly improved recent form on track is unlikely to have spurred a substantial new deal with Gulf Oil International - but it can't have done it any harm. The Woking-based firm’s road and race divisions have announced a multi-year strategic partnership with Pittsburgh-based Gulf, putting its oils and lubricants into McLaren’s cars – and bringing back a very recognisable colour scheme to Formula 1.
The latter will happen almost immediately - from the British Grand Prix this weekend, in fact - with McLaren Automotive’s range of road car engines – including its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 and the incoming hybrid V6 – to be supplied and recommended for use with Gulf products from 2021. Much like Shell does with Ferrari, Gulf will also use its work with the F1 team to speed up its research and development; the two organisations last partnered in such a way back in the nineties for McLaren’s Le Mans 24 Hours F1 GTR campaigns.
McLaren’s celebrated that partnership in recent years with ‘Gulf coloured’ liveries for MSO-created road cars, including a P1 in 2015, but none wore the brand’s logo. This time round, McLaren has confirmed that it’ll offer Gulf lettering to a small number of customers (via MSO) to mark its new deal. Expect plenty of buyers to be ticking that box, given the specialness of such a finish – which arguably reached its peak when it adorned the sleek body of Porsche’s dominating 917 racer in the seventies.
The work kicks off properly from the upcoming Silverstone race, when McLaren’s F1 team branding will incorporate the Gulf logo, well, everywhere. Expect it on the cars, race suits and signage, as well as team personnel gear, letterheads and merchandise. McLaren’s strong 2020 performance, seemingly driven as much by the competitiveness of its star drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz as it is an improved race car, ought to ensure plenty of sales of the latter.
Mike Flewitt, McLaren CEO, is predictably excited about it all. He said: “It’s great to be able to welcome back Gulf after a long historical association which has seen the name adorn many McLaren road cars and race cars over the years. McLaren has a rich history of working with class-leading partners and we’re delighted to continue this trend via our renewed partnership with Gulf. Like McLaren, the Gulf name is synonymous around the world with technical excellence and innovation and the excitement of going racing and motoring.”
CEO of Gulf Oil, Mike Jones, added: “We’re proud to be working alongside a brand that shares our future aspirations and our ambition for innovation both on the road and on the track. We look forward to working together and developing both Gulf and McLaren’s class-leading capabilities further.”
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