Vodafone is to end its long-running sponsorship of Formula One motor racing after announcing it will ditch its deal with McLaren at the end of the year.
The telecoms giant said the move, which will bring to a close an association with Formula One dating back more than a decade, followed a review of its marketing strategy.
Vodafone signed the McLaren deal, said to be worth £50 million a year, in 2007 and it included Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 drivers’ world title.
The company, which has previously sponsored the Ferrari F1 team, has already exited other global sponsorship campaigns, such as long-term deals with the England cricket team, Champions League football and more recently sponsorship of the Australian cricket team last year.
Morten Lundal, Vodafone’s group chief commercial officer, said the decision came as part of a wider overhaul to market the brand more directly through digital media and live events.
“We have been very happy with our engagement with McLaren. Our relationship has been a key ingredient in bringing the Vodafone brand to where it is today,” he said.
“However, our brand is evolving and we’ve concluded we will have less of a need for this kind of exposure in future.”
But it is also thought Voda- fone’s move to review its F1 sponsorship was in part prompted by the group’s unease over the decision to run the Bahrain Grand Prix last year despite a violent uprising in the country. McLaren has said it will announce a replacement sponsor in December.