TAG Heuer strikes deal with IndyCar, IMS to be official watch

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Watch sponsorships in racing are part of the fabric of the racing culture. TAG Heuer, the Swiss company, has been a racing staple for decades.

So it’s cool to see an iconic, legacy brand such as TAG Heuer officially strike a deal with INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, whereby TAG Heuer will become the official watch of the Verizon IndyCar Series and IMS. As this year, TAG Heuer will also sponsor the Carb Day Pit Stop Challenge at IMS.

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is proud of its long association with TAG Heuer and excited that the partnership has expanded to include the Verizon IndyCar Series,” Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and IMS said in a release. “TAG Heuer is an iconic brand and a perfect representation of the speed, precision, technology and innovation that are the pillars of our sport.”

A special edition Indy 500 Chronograph will be created as well, to be awarded to the winner of each race.

What the release doesn’t indicate is whether drivers or teams with other personal watch contracts will need to switch.

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship has, unsurprisingly, preferred TUDOR in the watch game, and what had been team sponsors like Chopard, Rebellion, BRM and TAG Heuer have fallen out of the paddock this year.

Interestingly, Dempsey Racing had a deal with TAG Heuer for its 24 Hours of Le Mans appearance, but it would not come over to the U.S. for its TUDOR Championship program.

So, watch what happens from here. And yes, I’ll see myself out after that bad pun.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”