McLaren has signed a contract extension with scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker ahead of start of the 2016 Formula 1 season in Australia next weekend.
Johnnie Walker’s parent company Diageo had been rumored to be ending its 10-year sponsorship of McLaren for 2016, having been linked to Force India in the event of a takeover of the team by Aston Martin.
However, in a statement issued by McLaren on Friday, it was confirmed that the sponsorship agreement with Johnnie Walker had been extended.
“Johnnie Walker’s renewed agreement with McLaren-Honda underlines our belief in, and commitment to, the strength and durability of long-standing commercial partnerships,” McLaren CEO Ron Dennis said.
“The Johnnie Walker brand is synonymous with quality, and, like ourselves, they’re not only incredibly proud of their heritage, but keen to push the limit in a hugely dynamic and constantly shifting marketplace. At McLaren-Honda, we absolutely share that ambition.
“The partnership has developed a long and dynamic list of creative initiatives, not least the admirable ‘Join The Pact’ responsible drinking campaign. Our renewed partnership will not only extend that socially responsible message, but also see the launch of a series of new and exciting concepts and ideas.
“Last but very far from least, this partnership renewal eloquently and irrefutably underlines the robust and exciting direction in which McLaren-Honda is going, with victory on track the destination.”
The contract extension will come as welcome news for McLaren at a time when it has little branding on its car following a number of sponsor exits over the past few years.
Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.
Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.
He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”
Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.
In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”
Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.
Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.