Bye-bye Rothmans

AS we suggested in January, Rothmans International - which was bought recently by British American Tobacco for $7.5bn - has announced that it is not going to continue its Winfield backing with the Williams team in the year 2000. BAT has, not surprisingly, decided to concentrate all its efforts in F1 on British American Racing which is running at the moment with backing from BAT brands 555 State Express and Lucky Strike.

It will be interesting to see which BAT brand is used next year as the takeover of Rothmans drops Lucky Strike from being BAT's number two seller to being its fifth, behind 555 State Express, Rothmans, Peter Stuyvesant and Dunhill.

Rothmans has been sponsoring Williams for the last five seasons - the relationship began in 1994 with drivers AyrtonĘSenna and Damon Hill - and the cars stayed in Rothmans blue and white until the start of 1998 when Rothmans decided to switch to Winfield red.

The end of the deal means that it is virtually certain that Williams will become one of the few non-tobacco sponsored F1 teams. We hear that the team already has a full budget for 2000 with most of the existing sponsors staying on and additional backing coming from BMW Genuine Parts.

We would, therefore, expect to see the cars white with the traditional BMW red, purple and blue stripes.

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