IZOD leaving IndyCar at end of 2013

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Two major, but not terribly unexpected, IndyCar pieces of news have just emerged this Friday.

The first is that series title sponsor IZOD, who assumed the role in 2010 after beginning its partnership in 2008, will leave its role at the end of the year.

“We are proud of our partnership with IZOD over the past six years and we’re grateful to PVH Corp., owner of the IZOD brand, for its support, creativity and vision,” Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent company of INDYCAR, said in a statement. “But circumstances change and now we’re seeking new partnerships with brands looking to align with the fastest, most versatile form of racing. We are combining and strengthening our commercial functions at INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which will allow us to more aggressively pursue new opportunities for our sport.”

The aforementioned “circumstances change” refers to a change at the top of IZOD’s parent company, Phillips-Van Heusen. Allen Sirken, the former head, was a fan of IZOD expanding its horizons into IndyCar first via a personal services agreement with Ryan Hunter-Reay, that later blossomed into the title sponsorship.

RHR ran a partial 2009 season with Vision Racing and a full 2010 with Andretti Autosport in IZOD colors. IZOD’s activation was prevalent and obvious for 2010 and 2011.

But a two-year drawdown as Sirken exited the building and a change at the top occurred meant the new regime wasn’t keen on continuing the partnership. As it is, IZOD leaves a year early, ahead of the fifth year of its contract.

“After an exciting relationship that has been as enjoyable and fast-paced as INDYCAR itself, PVH Corp. has made the decision to not continue IZOD’s title sponsorship with IndyCar beyond the 2013 season,” said Mike Kelly, Executive Vice President, The PVH Marketing Group. “As we and our retail partners shift the IZOD brand’s product focus, we need to shift our marketing spend to complement it. We would like to thank the IndyCar community, from the amazing fans, to the incredible drivers, to the entire series, for their partnership. We wish the series all the best and we look forward to finishing out the 2013 season with much success.”

IndyCar did not have a title sponsor last in 2009; it’s likely a search will occur for a replacement, possibly with existing series partners.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”