Force India set to unveil Smirnoff sponsor deal

Force India F1, The F1 Times

27 April 2014 by TF1T Staff

Force India is due to announce a major new sponsor in the form of Smirnoff - the world's best selling vodka - on Wednesday.

The deal, whilst not title sponsorship of the team, will see significant branding on the VJM07, replacing some of the Sahara branding whilst company owner Subrata Roy Sahara is in prison.

Force India's sponsors are heavily alcohol-based due to team owner Vijay Mallya's interests in the United Breweries Group which sells various brands from Kingfisher beer to Royal Challenge and Whyte and Mackay whisky - all of which feature on the VJM07's livery.

However in 2013, due to Mallya's ailing airline business and mounting debts, he sold a 25.02 per cent stake in United Spirits Limited to London-based Diageo which owns the Smirnoff brand amongst many more to make it the world's largest producer of spirits.

Diageo is no stranger to Formula 1 sponsorship and through its Johnnie Walker brand, has been a major sponsor of the McLaren team since 2005.

Mallya's links to Diageo through United Spirits Limited is believed to have played a major part in securing the Smirnoff deal which is expected to be worth upwards of £9 million ($15m, €11m) per season.

The addition of Smirnoff to the grid comes as Martini returned with title sponsorship of Williams, making alcohol one of the largest sponsors in F1.