MARCH 7, 2017

Petrobras in F1 talks with McLaren?

Petrobras could be about to re-emerge in formula one.

Petrobras could be about to re-emerge in formula one.

We reported last November that the Brazilian oil multinational would leave Williams. Indeed, the Petrobras logo is now missing from the side of the 2017 car's monocoque.

Livio Oricchio, a respected Brazilian correspondent for the Globo broadcaster, said McLaren-Honda is now in talks about a Petrobras deal.

That is despite the fact that, as long-time partner Mobil switched to Red Bull, McLaren inked a new lubricants deal for 2017 with BP-Castrol.

But it is believed the BP-Castrol deal with Renault is actually the more significant, as is indicated by the level of signage on the French team's livery.

"It is a fact that the marketing side of McLaren is negotiating with Petrobras about a sponsorship and development contract for fuel and oil. It would be similar to what Petrobras had with Williams from 1998 and 2008," said Oricchio.

If true, it would be a spot of good news for the otherwise struggling McLaren-Honda project, as Fernando Alonso now moves towards the end of his original three-year deal.

The Spanish driver, however, put a brave face on the situation.

"The situation improved every day during the week, and next week we'll be in another situation," Alonso said during last week's Barcelona testing.

"In Australia we will be in an even better situation. The chassis has a good foundation -- I could feel good grip in the corners. As for the other teams, what we are testing in Barcelona will not be what we see in Australia," he insisted.