Williams CEO Adam Parr has just done a conference call with the media on the news that RBS is to pull out of F1 at the end of 2010.
“It isn’t good news for the sport for a sponsor like RBS to announce it’s withdrawing. We’ve suspected for some time that there wasn’t much chance of the sponsorship continuing beyond its term, ” he said.
“In the latter part of last year we lost two or three significant partners, Lenovo, Baugar and Petrobras. But we also had 10 of our partners renew and four of the partners who renewed were major upgrades, meaning they at least doubled. The FOM revenues are stronger this year than last year and there are some significant cost savings from the cut in testing.”
“Overall we have a solid budget for next year, but we are also in advanced negotiations with other partners. For 2010 we have 90% of the sponsorship for this year confirmed for next year and we will have further significant cost savings. “
On Toyota he said that the manufacturers have committed for at least the next three years and he thinks that Toyota will stay beyond that if costs are brought under control.
Asked how hard it would be to replace RBS, Parr said,
“I’m confident that for 2011 we will have a strong sponsorship roster. No individual sponsor is make or break for us. It’s incredibly difficult to bring new sponsors in, but the return on investment is compelling.
“Last year RBS accounted for 10% of our revenue. They are one of our two senior sponsors”
Parr also said that the figure of £20 million on the BBC was “too high”. He was not specific, but the figure is likely to be more like £12 million per season.
Parr admitted that in the last three years the team had ‘spent beyond our means’ and that it would be paying off its debts this year and next. He reiterated that the cost savings FOTA and the FIA envisaged would make Williams’ budgets more closely aligned to the other teams in F1.