Team Lotus, this year competing in its second season of Formula One, has signed the most significant sponsorship deal in its short history. General Electric (GE) has agreed to become a premium partner of the team, signalling a large increase in American corporate involvement in Formula One.
GE branding will appear on the Team Lotus cars from the British Grand Prix. No financial details were released but experienced Formula One journalist Joe Saward suggested on his blog that the deal is worth up to US$30 million a year for three years. If correct, the sponsorship would make up a significant portion of the team’s seasonal budget.
The inclusion of quotes from GE chairman and chief executive Jeff Immelt in the piece would appear to be an indicator of the significance of the deal to the giant global technology and infrastructure company. He said: “The global appeal and popularity of Formula One provides a unique opportunity for GE and we look forward to great things from Tony again as we become part of his team."
The links between Fernandes, who was in New York to announce the agreement, and GE are strong. In May his budget airline Air Asia signed a US$600 million agreement with GE Aviation for engines for three new aircraft. Air Asia is also in negotiations with GE over an engine supply for a larger aircraft order that Fernandes is in the process of agreeing with Airbus.
Fernandes said: “We are already exploring a number of initiatives that will bring the GE/Team Lotus relationship to life across the spectrum of GE's interests, from future automotive electrification technologies, materials sciences, design processes and core engineering competencies to the showcasing of GE's world class e-infrastructure capabilities throughout the global business and government communities in race and non-race markets alike.”