‘Sponsorship showdown’ set for Miami as four F1 teams chase huge Mastercard deal

Thomas Maher
Oscar Piastri, McLaren, 2023 Miami Grand Prix.

Mastercard is reportedly in talks with McLaren, and three other teams, over a title sponsorship agreement.

Several of F1’s leading teams are reportedly jousting for the attention of leading American multinational Mastercard to sign as a sponsor.

A report from prominent sports sponsorship publication SportsBusiness claims Mastercard is in talks with several teams about a new title deal – with McLaren leading the charge.

Mastercard in talks with ‘four teams’ over F1 title sponsorship

According to SportsBusiness’ report, McLaren is the favourite to secure Mastercard as a major sponsor, perhaps even as a title sponsorship that could result in the team being renamed McLaren Mercedes Mastercard.

But McLaren isn’t the only outfit attempting to lure the American financial multinational, with Ferrari, Mercedes, and Aston Martin also said to have held discussions over a high-end sponsorship deal.

The upcoming Miami Grand Prix, therefore, is likely to be the final battleground for each of the teams to make their closing statements and woo Mastercard to return to F1 after almost 30 years since their last appearance.

In 1997, Mastercard signed up as title sponsor for the doomed Lola outfit, unfortunately becoming synonymous with the incredibly uncompetitive outfit that, arguably, were the last of the true F1 ‘no-hopers’ that attempted to succeed in the sport over the preceding two decades – Mastercard then swapped to a less prominent sponsorship of the Jordan Grand Prix team until 2001.

Ferrari has just announced a new title sponsorship with blue-chip tech giant Hewlett-Packard, which will be renamed Scuderia Ferrari HP with its new multi-year deal, with the technology giant formerly a prominent sponsor of the Williams team in the mid-2000s.

According to the report, Ferrari was seeking Mastercard to pay $100 million per year to become a title sponsor but, having secured HP, Mastercard may have to be satisfied with a “lower-tier” sponsorship agreement if it decides to sign with the Scuderia.

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With F1’s budget cap in place for a few years now, Red Bull has shown the value of getting big sponsorship deals on board – almost half of the $135 million budget cap is paid by title sponsor Oracle after signing a huge deal two years ago.

Sister team RB, formerly AlphaTauri, secured Visa and Cash App as title sponsor (including team name) for 2024, estimated at over $20 million annually, while Moneygram’s title sponsorship of Haas is valued at around the same.

Mastercard’s sporting portfolio away from F1 is far-reaching, with deals including the UEFA Champions League, Major League Baseball, the Rugby World Cup, the PGA Tour, and the Australian Open.

According to SportsBusiness, a request for comment resulted in a response from Mastercard said: “We are constantly exploring how new opportunities could complement the value delivered to our customers and cardholders. But nothing new to share at this time.”

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