McLaren boss plays down title sponsor announcement 12 November, 2013 Martin Whitmarsh The spotlight of the 2014 silly season is now squarely focused on McLaren, amid reports that the British team has decided to replace Sergio Perez with rookie Kevin Magnussen. From a commercial point of view, the shift of focus on the driver side would be interesting – it was believed thatMexican Perez’s arrival at Woking would precede by a year his backer, Telmex, succeeding Vodafone as the title sponsor. Indeed, an announcement of Vodafone’s as yetunnamed successor had already been scheduled by McLaren for 2 December. Coming a week after this month’s Brazil season finale, many thought that date had been chosen so as not to interfere with the current Telmex backing of Sauber’s racing season. But, suddenly, that date may no longer be relevant, according to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. When asked about the 2 December sponsor announcement by reporters this week, he said: “There will be some new sponsors, but I think probably – and I don’t know because I haven’t talked to our PR function – there will be more of a fanfare at the car launch rather than an announcement on 2 December.” McLaren’s 2014 car will likely be revealed shortly before winter testing in January. “My own view is that [in early December] we would be taking [the focus] away from what I hope will be an exciting car launch next year, but we will see,” said Whitmarsh. (GMM) Subbed by AJN. Tweet Related NewsHonda plan Alonso charm offensive at SuzukaMcLaren: We’re far from satisfiedButton admits career hinges on McLaren decisionMcLaren preview Singapore Grand Prix weekendIncreasingly likely McLaren will retain current driversFerrari and McLaren face tough road back to the topMcLaren-Honda may run at Abu Dhabi testMcLaren running out of star driver options for 2015McLaren: We’re making sure and steady progressMcLaren eye Hamilton-Rosberg feud with interest Bakerman I think Witmarsh is trying to play things close to the chest. 1) I think they want Magnussen next to Button for 2014. 2) I think they want Perez out 3) I think they don’t want to see how the above (1) + 2)) impacts their relationship with the new title sponsor. OR 4) This might just be tactic to get Perez’s sponsors to bring even more money to the team. and 5) Essentially – this year’s McLaren car was crap so it might be hard for them to definitely say that Perez drove poorly and that Magnussen would be a better choice. Given a better car for 2014, there’s a chance Perez could improve. The rumors are: 1) the new title sponsor is Telmex so they won’t be happy to lose Perez. Which means that they might be willing to pay extra to keep Perez for 2014 as well OR they might FORCE McLaren to keep Perez (could be in their contract – just like Santander is sponsoring Alonso’s drive at Ferrari (I am not saying Alonso is not a good driver, just that Santander are supporting him) 2)the new title sponsor is another company (there were rumors of Gillette) and McLaren want to make sure that they don’t have anything against replacing Perez. I never thought Perez did anything special (compared to Kobayashi his team mate) to warrant him getting the drive at McLaren over others. To me, Perez is just another “high level” pay driver – good enough for a mid level team, but not for the top. The question that only McLaren can answer is whether there’s no chance for Perez to improve (like Grosjean did, or like Button did in his early days). Difficult choices for McLaren. I’d keep Perez for 2014 and place Magnussen in a Marussia/Caterham/Force India/Sauber and if Perez is still not good after 2-3 races in 2014 – simply replace him with Magnussen. But that would be VERY difficult to set up from a contracts perspective. McLarenfan @ Bakerman: a lot of good points but Checo is not a rookie and he is still having a Mexican mist in his eye from time to time and even with the same car Button has a lot more points in the bag. I agree with your other point Kobayashi I would love him to be back. koos New sponsor McDonalds Snowman @Koos I cannot tell you how much I hope McDonalds is the title sponsor. Team McDonalds Mercedes The Pessimist The new title sponsor for Mclaren is Gillette and according to an insider the deal was signed a few weeks back and will be announced during winter testing.