INEOS has launched a five-year partnership with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team.
The petrochemical company said the decision was a part of its wider investment in sport, where it has also signed on to back a cycling team, a UK entrant for the America’s Cup, the breaking of the two-hour barrier for marathon runners and football.
The INEOS-Mercedes link up was showcased with a car in the new livery, with the new 2020 car to be launched at the end of this week.
“We have a genuine passion for sport and Formula 1 is one of the most exciting sports in the world, as evidenced by the fact that more people watch Formula 1 than anything else,” INEOS’ chairman Jim Ratcliffe said. “We have a great admiration for Mercedes, it’s a fantastic engineering company that’s at the top of the game.”
Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ CEO and team principal Toto Wolff noted INEOS’ move from a start up to major company over a period of 20 years and the importance of shared values.
Lewis Hamilton has played an essential role for the Mercedes team, with the partnership have racked up an impressive winning streak over the last six years. Hamilton’s contract runs out at the end of 2020, as does Mercedes’ contract to race in the sport.
Wolff said it was an “obvious pairing” for the two to stay together. “We would like to have the fastest man in the car and I know Lewis wants to be in the fastest car,” he said. The two men have not spoken since before Christmas, with Wolff saying that winter gave everyone an opportunity to relax in peace. Discussions are due to resume when Hamilton returns from the US.
The Mercedes man was also positive that the “halo effect” of racing in Formula 1 would see parent company Daimler continue its support.
While the private petrochemical company, and its owners Sir Jim Ratcliffe, are in an expansionary mood when it comes to sporting support, this does not equate with a desire to expand its foothold in the North Sea.
Responding to a question from Energy Voice, Ratcliffe described the oil and gas sector as being in a difficult spot at the moment.
“We’re always looking at things that come up. We’ve been acquisitive over the last 20 years or so. Most people who have been acquisitive have been unsuccessful. One of the parameters of success is that the more you look at, the better it is,” the INEOS owner said.
Going on to respond to a question about uncertainty in sport, but that could equally be applied to the question of acquisitions, Ratcliffe said there were always risks.
“All sport is a risk. At the end of the day, you have to take a view. You apply some rigour and some common sense. If I were Lewis I would probably want to equal Schumacher’s record this season and where is the best place to do that? That’s a phenomenal thing to achieve. But at the end of the day, there’s no guarantees,” he said.
He went on to say that the rise of US shale had revolutionised the pricing of oil, and the uptake of LNG had changed gas. “There’s all sorts of changes and we’re looking at it, but we don’t understand it as well as chemicals.”