, which raced into motor sports advertising a year ago with a major F1 sponsorship, is letting up on the throttle, so to speak, for 2009.

Not only is Lenovo putting its advertising dollars behind a new team, it also is dropping signage at Formula 1 tracks – and on the race cars it sponsors.

“Yes, our Formula 1 strategy has evolved,” Bob Page, a spokesperson for the world’s No. 4 PC-maker, told Local Tech Wire.

“Lenovo’s F1 strategy is based on our experience in the sport,” he added. “We are making a smaller investment in F1 because we want to allocate marketing resources efficiently in places where we see the highest return, including trackside signage.”

Lenovo, which is based in Morrisville but operates primarily in China, said Wednesday that it would sponsor for the 2009 season. A year ago, Lenovo backed Williams.

The new sponsorship “provided a more appropriate fit” for the PC manufacturer, Page said.

The F1 sponsorship in 2008 was part of an aggressive Lenovo global marketing plan to increase brand awareness and sales. Lenovo was a top sponsor for the Beijing Olympics. It also is involved in World Cup Soccer and the NBA.

McLaren features Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 F1 world champion. At age 23, he became the sport’s youngest champion.

Lenovo won’t be featured prominently on the McLaren race cars as it was on Williams, however.

According to Page, the computer, engineering and technical support it can provide McLaren is more important.

“Our experience has shown that our primary story is one of exceptional engineering in the operations of the team, and that is not as dependent on logo visibility on the car,” Page said.

British media have reported that Lenovo would make a “similar” investment in F1 this year.

Like other motorsports, including NASCAR, F1 race teams are struggling with fewer sponsors.

Lenovo is working with McLaren on a technical solutions suite that includes notebook and desktop PCs and wireless solutions.

“Both Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Lenovo are committed to the competitive advantages from exceptional engineering,” said McLaren Chief Executive Officer Martin Whitmarsh in a statement. “We are looking forward to the significant technology contribution that Lenovo will provide through its notebooks and desktop computer solutions.”