DECEMBER 18, 1995
Tyrrell loses Nokia
The Finnish telecommunications and electronics group embarked on its F1 adventure in March this year, aiming to use the sport to strengthen the international image of the Nokia brand. Nine months later Nokia is saying that that although the sponsorship was a great success in Europe and Latin America, interest was "surprisingly mild" in Asia and North America. While this may be a valid point against F1, F1 marketers argue that if companies wish to benefit from F1, they need to invest more and stay around longer. One can hardly build marketing mountains in nine months.
The Finns will certainly not have been happy with Tyrrell's lack of performance in 1995, but the withdrawal suggests that Nokia is not planning to jump to another team. Despite this we hear that several teams have been busy pitching Nokia since the announcement was made.
While Nokia's withdrawal is bad news for the team, it is not the first time that Tyrrell has lost a big sponsor: Nokia following in the footsteps of Benetton, Data General, Courtaulds and Braun. The team will need to analyze why this continues to happen, particularly when one considers that most of the Tyrrell marketing department has changed over the years.
Tyrrell needs to find new sponsorship if it wishes to pay for driver Johnny Herbert, but if money cannot be found, the team may have to rely on drivers who can bring money - or influence. The driver market is currently not short of available sponsorship, with some useful drivers available with one or two sensible budgets, notably Formula 3000 Vincenzo Sospiri, who is said to have a budget of around $6 million available.
The withdrawal of Nokia, however, probably strengthens Ukyo Katayama's position. Yamaha wants him and his backing from Mild Seven - rumored to be around $1.5m - will be more valuable than ever to the team.
As we predicted some months ago, Tyrrell's technical partnership with Fondmetal Technologies is now officially over but Gabriele Rumi's Fondmetal company - parent company to Fondmetal Technologies - will continue to sponsor the team.