MAY 4, 2009
Richards looks to Qatar
David Richards has made much of his plans to enter F1 in 2010 with a new team but it remains to be seen whether this will actually happen and what it might be branded. One option would be Prodrive although this would have no obvious economic benefit for the company and it would be much wiser to use the Aston Martin brand, which Richards also controls. Racing F1 Aston Martins would almost certainly help the company sell more cars as it would add to the company's cachet. Aston Martin is aiming for the same kind of customers as Ferrari and thus running cars against the Italian firm makes sense. Aston Martin is in no position to fund such an idea, however, but Richards will no doubt be working to find the budget. He was in Qatar last week looking for funding and may be able to talk the local Aston Martin dealer Abdullah Abdulghani into an involvement in the project. Abdulgani's family has been running one of the biggest business empire in the oil-rich country since the late 1950s in a variety of different industries and real estate development.
Richards is also likely to be talking to Aston Martin's sports car sponsor Gulf Oil. Once an America company, Gulf is now split into several different businesses. The brand is owned by Chevron, but it has licensed use of the name and the logo in the US to a company called Gulf Oil Limited Partnership (GOLP) which operates a petrol distribution network. Gulf Oil International (GOI) owns the rights to the Gulf brand outside North America and is based in London. It is owned by the Hinduja group, a company which has its roots in India, but has been headquartered in London since the Iranian revolution in 1979. Attempts have been made to coordinate the marketing strategies of all of those involved but that has yet to be successful. However GOI has made much of the evocative light blue/orange Gulf colour scheme - made famous in sports car racing in the 1960s - and an F1 programme could be of value to the company.