Report: Verizon close to deal to become IndyCar title sponsor

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The Sports Business Journal is reporting that Verizon and IndyCar are close to a deal that would see the telecommunications giant be named IndyCar’s title sponsor.

Per sources who spoke to the SBJ, Verizon would commit to spend approximately $10M a year in rights, activation and media. The length of the deal would be 10 years, valued at $100M.

Quite honestly, the move would make sense on so many levels that to my occasionally skeptical eye, I wasn’t sure a deal like this could actually happen. Because in theory, back in September when news of IZOD’s departure was confirmed, I thought a Verizon title sponsorship would be simply too good to be true.

If it happens, Verizon’s activation will be the key to the partnership, between retail stores and ad promotion and other outlets where they can promote.

They can promote a “speed” aspect – both in terms of its actual 4G LTE service and Internet speed – and with the comparison of IndyCar’s top speeds (230mph-plus) versus NASCAR’s (200mph-plus), with their title sponsor still Sprint.

For five years, Verizon has been among the most active in the motorsports sponsorship business with Roger Penske’s organization. It entered with Will Power on a part-time deal in 2009, before it became a full-time sponsor in 2010.

In 2013, Verizon signage was visible on all rear wheel guards in the field, and Verizon has also stepped up to sponsor the pole award – now officially known as the Verizon P1 Award.

This year, Verizon’s presence on cars will not only be for a full-season for Power, but for eight races on Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 2 car and at all three cars at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis (Power, JPM and Helio Castroneves) May 10.

The company works with Indianapolis-based Just Marketing International, JMI for short, on its motorsports sponsorships.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.