MORRISVILLE, N.C. – Lenovo is about to major a major splash in the world of Grand Prix auto racing if reports in China and the United Kingdom are correct.
Lenovo apparently has signed on as a major sponsor of the Williams Formula 1 racing team. One media source says Lenovo will get prime advertising space on Williams’ F1 team stable with its logo painted on the side pods and rear wing.
A Williams F1 race car recently was photographed with Lenovo logos, according to GrandPrix.com.
However, a Lenovo spokesperson would not confirm a deal had been struck. "We have not made any announcement on this," he said.
The Williams race team apparently is waiting until Feb. 2 to launch its full list of sponsors. Interestingly, in a note to the Web site from Williams, the team said that two sponsors not shown painted on the car would in fact be part of the 2007 race sponsorship package.
In a wildly popular global sport, advertising is sold down to the glovers worn by drivers. Drivers as well as their race cars are covered with emblems touting sponsor’s wares and names just as they are in NASCAR and the Indy Racing League.
If the reports are true, Lenovo will replace one of its bitterest rivals, Hewlett Packard, as a Williams F1 sponsor. Lenovo is the world’s third largest PC manufacturer behind HP and Dell.
One Chinese media source said Lenovo would pay around $40 million a year for the sponsorship.
“There is no independent confirmation of this at the moment and no obvious announcement to the F1 media,” reported GrandPrix.com. “A sponsorship makes a great deal of sense for the company as it tries to raise its profile around the world.”
The Grand Prix circuit includes races around the world.
The Britain-based F1 team has a host of high-profile sponsors, including AT&T as the title advertiser. Others include Oris, the luxury Swiss watch manufacturer which just renewed it sponsorship, plus Accenture and Budweiser.
PaddockTalk, a Web site devoted to F1 coverage, said Lenovo would have the “most significant signage” on team’s lineup of F1 racers.
Lenovo has invested heavily in sports marketing, from signing on as a so-called “TOP” sponsor of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to the recent Winter Olympics in Italy and World Cup soccer. Lenovo is also a major sponsor of the National Basketball Association.
The next Formula 1 racing season begins on March 18 with the Australian Grand Prix.
Williams F1 will unveil a new Web site dedicated to the coming season on Feb. 2.