Long-time Max Verstappen sponsors explain why they are walking away

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen, Red Bull

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen pictured in the Thursday press conference at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix.

Ton van Veen, the chief executive of Jumbo, has explained why the Dutch supermarket chain is to end its sponsorship of F1 World Champion Max Verstappen.

Jumbo is a long-term backer of Verstappen, having sponsored the three-time World Champion long before he arrived in F1 as a teenager with Red Bull junior team in Toro Rosso in 2015.

Verstappen has since gone on to become one of the most successful drivers in history, having won 44 of the last 66 races stretching back to his maiden title-winning season in 2021. The 26-year-old set a new F1 record with 19 wins from 22 races in 2023.

Max Verstappen loses Jumbo sponsorship

Despite the benefits of being associated with Verstappen, Jumbo is to end its association with the Red Bull star having also ended its sponsorship of F1’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, as well as ended its activities in ice skating and cycling.

The move comes after former Jumbo chief executive Frits van Eerd stepped down in October 2022 after being investigated for money laundering, with Van Veen stepping up from his previous role as finance director.

Under the new regime, Jumbo has opted to allocate its resources spent on sport elsewhere with Van Veen explaining the decision to Dutch publication De Volkskrant.

He said: “In recent years, Jumbo has lost its focus somewhat.

“We have added a number of activities that have not necessarily strengthened the formula. We have also become very active in sports sponsorship.

“But when you look at the successes of athletes and teams, you have to ask yourself if that suits us. Max Verstappen is a World Champion. But we are a Dutch supermarket company, not even the biggest. On the world stage, we don’t have much business.

“That means we no longer put tens of millions into sports sponsorship, but use it to lower prices. That is the essence of Jumbo as it was meant to be.”

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The loss of Jumbo’s backing is unlikely to come as a significant blow to Verstappen, who in October was tipped to become “the first billion-dollar Formula 1 driver” by business F1 expert Mark Gallagher.

Gallagher said: “The reason I say that is because you really don’t need to sit in front of a calculator for very long to work out that.

“If he’s already been in Formula 1 since the age of 17, even if you put in a sort of relatively modest trajectory in terms of his salary, he’s already well into nine figures – hundreds of millions of dollars of income during his career to date.

“He’s got a very long way to go, potentially. This is one of the interesting things about Max saying he may not stick around that long, because he certainly doesn’t need to stick around in order to make serious money.

“He’s already made serious money, and he will make serious money over the balance of his Red Bull contract until 2028.

“The deals that he has are not stratospheric – they’re not Nike/NBA-style personal endorsement deals – but they are still significant.

“When you start to add them up, if you’ve got £1.5m here or £2million there – and this is on top of your salary – you can see that he’s reached a point where it’s no wonder he looks so relaxed about everything in his life.

“He’s literally in the class of his own.”

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