Word has leaked out that Martini will be the title sponsor of the Williams team for the 2014 season and beyond.
Reports have emerged in Italy linking Martini – through their Martini Racing banner – with Williams, thus marking a return to Formula 1 by the stylish drinks brand, which has previously sponsored Brabham and Lotus in the seventies, and more recently had a minor partnership with Ferrari.
It is expected that Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will unveil the Martini Williams Mercedes FW36 on the morning of 28 January at Jerez, before the first day of testing gets underway.
Williams has pre-empted the launch by releasing graphic renderings of the FW36, in all blue and only featuring the Williams name on the rear wing and side pods, but devoid of any sponsor logos.
Martini Racing’s association with Formula 1 began in 1972 with the Italian team Tecno. However, the car was uncompetitive and Martini withdrew at the end of the 1973 season.
Martini returned in 1975, sponsoring Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team. The initial colour scheme incorporated the Martini colours atop a white background, on the Cosworth powered Brabham BT44B in 1975.
The Alfa Romeo flat-V12 powered Brabham BT45 and Brabham BT45B were used for the 1976 and 1977 seasons, where the Martini colours appeared on a dark red background.
For the 1979 season, the Martini sponsorship moved to Team Lotus. In spite of having the 1978 Championship winning Lotus 79 and Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann as drivers, the Martini Lotus association did not achieve a single win and by the end of the year, and Martini withdrew from F1 once more.
After a long break from F1, the Italian company returned in 2006 by sponsoring Scuderia Ferrari with a minor presence.
Martini Racing’s real success came as a long term sponsor of Porsche and their record breaking Le Mans campaigns, along with Lancia in sportscar racing as well as in rallying.
Martini is a brand of Italian vermouth, named after the Martini & Rossi Distilleria Nazionale di Spirito di Vino, but now owned by Bermuda based Bacardi Limited. (GP247)
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