Google clicks on deal with McLaren to rev up F1 team’s revival

McLaren Racing, one of motorsport’s most famous names, has struck a deal to lure Google, the technology behemoth, into Formula One racing for the first time.

Sky News has learnt that Alphabet Inc-owned Google has signed an agreement with McLaren that will see the search engine’s consumer brands adorning its F1 and Extreme E cars this year.

Sources said the deal, the value of which was unclear, would be announced later on Wednesday.

Image: McLaren has finished third or fourth in the constructors’ championship in each of the last three years

It will mark the latest stage in a remarkable commercial resurgence at McLaren, which has been buoyed by the on-track revival of one of F1’s most historically significant teams under Zak Brown, who runs its racing arm.

From its nadir in 2017, when McLaren recorded its worst-ever constructors’ championship finish of ninth place just months after Mr Brown’s arrival, the team has enjoyed a resurgence that many in the automotive sector and F1 paddock thought would not be possible.


Under Mr Brown, McLaren has finished third or fourth in each of the last three years, and last season notched up its first pole position and race win in almost a decade.

Motorsport insiders said that securing Google’s backing was a major coup for McLaren at a time when F1’s broader commercial fortunes have also been improving in the wake of the pandemic.

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Under the deal to be announced on Wednesday, Google’s Android-branded devices and Chrome operating system will receive prominent exposure and be adopted by the McLaren team, according to a person close to the deal.

McLaren is understood to have quadrupled its annual sponsorship income to well over £100m under Mr Brown’s leadership, adding brands such as Dell Technolgies, Cisco, Coca Cola, Unilever and Stanley Black & Decker.

Image: The final race of the last F1 season was watched by 108 million viewers

The McLaren name has also expanded into Extreme E racing and acquired an Indycar team, even as financial pressures caused by the pandemic forced its parent company to embark on a radical restructuring.

The 2022 F1 season will get underway this weekend in Bahrain, with McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo tipped to compete for regular podium finishes during the 22-race calendar.

McLaren declined to comment ahead of the formal announcement about the partnership with Google.

Earlier this week, Sky News revealed that Salesforce, the US-based enterprise software company, was close to finalising a bumper sponsorship deal with F1, in a further sign of the revival in the sport’s commercial fortunes.

Interest in F1 in the US has surged as a result of the popular Netflix fly-on-the-wall documentary, Drive to Survive, which released its fourth season last week.

A third US Grand Prix – a street race in Las Vegas – is expected to be confirmed in the coming months, while the 2022 calendar features 22 races after September’s event in Russia was cancelled following the invasion of Ukraine.

Last season’s viewing figures hit 1.55 billion, up 4%, with 108 million tuning into the final race in Abu Dhabi, where Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the drivers’ championship from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of a thrilling but controversial Grand Prix.