MAY 3, 1999
McDonalds looking for action
There have been some interesting rumors circulating in recent days which suggest that BAR shareholder Jerry Forsythe is casting around the F1 paddock looking to buy a shareholding in a second Grand Prix team. Forsythe runs two teams in CART racing, one sponsored by BAT's Players brand and the other by the McDonalds hamburger company. It is believed that McDonalds has decided that it wants to be involved in Formula 1 as part of an international campaign to bolster its sales. It is worth noting that in recent days it has been rumored that the company is withdrawing from its deal with Bill Elliott in NASCAR racing. The problem for Forsythe is that McDonalds does not want to be involved in a team which has tobacco sponsorship and that means that there are only really four current options - Arrows, Stewart, Sauber and Minardi - although others may become available next year - notably Williams, which loses its Winfield support at the end of this year. The team which best suits the McDonalds image is Jordan but the Benson & Hedges deal is understood to last for another two seasons.
Benetton is rumored to be in the process of negotiating a deal with McDonalds rival Burger King. This makes a great deal of sense as Benetton subsidiary Autogrill recently agreed a deal for Burger King to have restaurants at its motorway service stations in Italy. Burger King is also in the process of trying to create a completely new international image for itself so as to compete more effectively with McDonalds.