Sunoco returns to F1 with Sauber after nearly half a century


Sunoco, the iconic American oil brand with deep roots in motorsport, is stepping back onto the Formula 1 stage after 48 years with Swiss outfit Sauber.

This season, its familiar blue and yellow colors will adorn the Sauber C44 race car and driver overalls at the Miami and Las Vegas Grand Prix, marking a nostalgic presence for US race fans.

Sunoco's history in motorsport, particularly in the US, is legendary. Beyond its status as the official fuel supplier for NASCAR, the brand forged an iconic partnership with racing legend Roger Penske.

Together, they achieved countless victories, including Mark Donohue's triumphant 1972 Indy 500 win and 1973 CanAm championship, both fueled by Sunoco's high-performance blends.

While Sunoco's F1 presence has been limited, its past involvement adds a unique layer to its comeback. In 1971, Penske ran a privateer McLaren M19 emblazoned with Sunoco branding for the final two Grand Prix of the season.

In Donohue’s hands, the superbly prepared machine allowed the American driver to finish a remarkable third on his Grand Prix debut in Canada.

Sunoco's brief involvement continued when Penske entered F1 with its own chassis in 1974. While the Sunoco logos were smaller, they remained a testament to the brand's commitment to racing's pinnacle series. Even in the team's final season in 1976, John Watson's Austrian Grand Prix victory came with Sunoco on board.

Sunoco's return to F1, albeit in a limited capacity, signifies the enduring appeal of motorsports' most prestigious platform. While its presence is currently focused on specific races, the brand's rich history and association with legendary victories leave the door perhaps open for a more extensive return in the future.

For now, racing fans worldwide can relish the nostalgic sight of Sunoco's blue and yellow colors back on the F1 grid, a reminder of its past prowess and the continued evolution of motorsport partnerships.

“I am first and foremost a motorsport fan, and Sunoco is a brand that elicits strong emotions for me, as it is deeply ingrained into this world,” commented Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi.

“It’s a brand that is synonymous with racing, one that evokes memories of golden eras of sportscar racing and, more recently, the most followed American series, NASCAR and IndyCar.

"It’s an honour for us to work with them during the Miami and Las Vegas Grands Prix, and to welcome (parent company) Energy Transfer in Austin.

“The US market is gaining more and more importance within our sport over the recent years, and we are now partners with two of the most important and recognizable brands in the country.”

Sandra Deiters, Vice President of Business Development for Sunoco added: “We are pleased to join the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber family and look forward to working together this season.

“Sunoco has a long history of being involved with high performance motorsports, and as a brand synonymous with performance fuels, we can’t wait to bring our commitment and passion to the pinnacle of motorsport.”

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter