OCTOBER 14, 2008

Bad news for RBS?

Williams sponsor RBS is to be taken over by the British Government, in an effort to recapitalise the Scottish bank. The news means that RBS chairman Sir Fred Goodwin has resigned. The news means that the company's F1 sponsorships have to be questioned, although with two years still to run on the deal with Williams, it will probably make sense to continue the deal rather than pull out and have to pay without getting the benefits of the advertising. However, in the longer term this has to be a worry for the team. It does not help that Iceland's Baugur, which provides Williams sponsorships from Hamleys and mydiamonds.com, is also in deep financial trouble because of the Icelandic financial crisis. There have been rumours that billionaire Philip Green may step in and buy Baugur debts and thus take control of the business. Green has been seen at a number of F1 races in recent years so it is possible that he would continue with the sponsorships if he did take over Baugur businesses.

The other piece of bad news that was veginning to leak out in Japan is that Williams will be losing Petrobras at the end of the year, the Brazilian oil gaint deciding that it wants an association with Honda Racing F1 in the future, in order to get the benefit of Honda's environmental message. This has led to suggestions that Honda might recruit Bruno Senna from GP2. Honda has been holding out for Fernando Alonso but our sources in Spain say that Fernando has now decided to stay at Renault, although that announcement may not be made for a while because of uncertainty about the future of Kimi Raikkonen's position at Ferrari. Alonso has nothing to lose in waiting as Renault is not about to sign a different driver.