Pleasures of Corporate Sponsorship in Formula 1


Not so long ago I penetrated Vodafone’s main offices in Lisbon in order to cancel my mobile broadband service (it was getting narrower and narrower) and was somewhat pleasantly surprised to discover a Formula 1 car (the shiny silver McLaren of course, Ferrari marketing people are now fascinated with bonkers, sorry, bankers) sitting there in the lobby next to yet another unfortunate plastic Rita or Marta who was busy polishing her nails and didn’t give a damn about F1 machinery. I proceeded with cancellation and returned the following day with a proper camera to take some pics.

I’m not a fan of modern times when virtual money and con artists rule the world but to give corporate suits some credit, they are humans too. I normally adopt ‘live and let live’ attitude when it comes to VIPs/sponsors and all that silly stuff, without them we wouldn’t know Formula 1 as it is today. The teams need some cash, yeah, that’s for sure. I acknowledge rich dudes are entitled to wine and dine on top of the garages to the sound of F1 engines in some exclusive paddock club with an air of exclusivity on their dull faces. Never felt interested in similar activites myself though: nothing compares to standing beside the track and observing the cars as they go by (if I can’t get close to the action, I can’t be bothered). Also, how can F1 journalists sit in the media centre and stare at lap times is beyond me, it’s such a bore!

The car on display in Lisbon was a mixture of 2006-2008 McLaren F1 designs without the more exotic Christmas tree bits and pieces such as sidepod fins, multiple turning vanes and winglets; everything looked authentic, apart from front and rear wings which were definitely manufactured on purpose, I’ve never seen anything like it on a full Grand Prix circuit. The Adrian Newey inspired steering wheel (as opposed to the new generation of steering wheels McLaren’s been using for quite some time) looked weird too with buttons in all the wrong places, it didn’t compare to anything real – maybe it was used in testing only? No idea but with McLaren you never know; I couldn’t obtain any additional information as my enquiry on Twitter went unnoticed by the people who run @TheFifthDriver account (acceptable if you consider they probably get thousands of questions every day). Vodafone HQ visitors were tempted to take some photos too, it’s just that I kept blinding everybody with my flash! Plastic Rita or Marta didn’t seem to mind and security guards weren’t summoned to throw me out while I was literally licking the car for almost an hour!

My camera’s exposure will now give McLaren and Vodafone some brand exposure; maybe there’s some good in evil after all so thanks to Vodafone! Now I’ll go and chase grrrls…

You can check out my VMM gallery by clicking here or thereabouts.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Posted by