Hewlett-Packard out of Williams

The Hewlett-Packard computer company will announce later today that this is withdrawing early from its sponsorship deal with Williams. The company had been expected to continue as the team's title sponsor until the end of next year but has been making major cutbacks in recent months and it seems that it has decided that it no longer needs Formula 1.

"We have met our objectives and it is a natural moment for HP to conclude our relationship," said Cathy Lyons, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for HP in a statement to the International Herald Tribune. "We wish them all the best as they go in a new direction next season."

It is presumed that a financial settlement was agreed to get out of the sponsorship early.

The sponsorship began in 2000 with Compaq and ever since the merger between Compaq and Hewlett-Packard there have been doubts about the long-term nature of the deal. Williams has been aware of this and has been quietly looking for title sponsors elsewhere. It might even be that the team has found a new deal and thus has been able to release Compaq from its commitments. If this is the case then we would expect to hear an announcement soon.

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