TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver has confirmed that the Swiss watch maker will end its long-established association with McLaren at the end of the current season and switch to rival outfit Red Bull in 2016.
The soon-to-be ex-partners joined forces in 1985, a couple of years after former TAG Heuer boss Mansour Ojjeh had become involved in the Woking-based team. The marque started appearing on that year’s MP4/4 and has been a prominent sponsor ever since.
Speaking to Swiss publication L'Hebdo, Biver said: “We just signed with Red Bull Racing in F1 for next season. It's a young, dynamic and go-getter team, which perfectly fits TAG Heuer’s strategy.”
This is another blow dealt to McLaren, which has been without a title sponsor since Vodafone left after the 2013 season. The announcement also comes in the wake a very challenging reunion with Honda. Racing director Eric Boullier admitted earlier this year that his team was hurt commercially by its current on-track struggles.
“McLaren's partnership with TAG Heuer has been one of the most successful and enduring sponsorships in sporting history,” a spokesman said.
“It has lasted 30 years, during which time both parties have achieved enormous success together.
“On track the team has won grands prix and world championships with such iconic racing heroes as Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.
“Off track TAG Heuer's association with the team has caused its watches to become globally synonymous with high technology, precision and speed: three principal hallmarks of the McLaren brand.
“It is therefore with gratitude we announce the end of our 30-year partnership, satisfied as both parties are with a job well done.
“Our relationship with TAG Heuer's parent company LVMH continues via our new partnership with Chandon, announced last month.”
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