Oct 20 (Reuters) – The Haas Formula One team will have payments and money transfer company MoneyGram (MGI.O) as their title sponsor from next season in a multi-year deal that will provide a welcome infusion of cash for the series’ only U.S. based outfit.
The backing was officially announced at a coffee shop in downtown Austin on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.
Haas entered F1 in 2016 and have spent much of that time without a title sponsor other than Haas Automation, the company of machine-tools industrialist and team owner Gene Haas.
The Ferrari-powered team are eighth out of 10 teams in the constuctors’ standings, level on points with ninth-placed AlphaTauri.
Uralkali, owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, was the team’s most recent title sponsor but the Potash producer was forced out of the sport in February after the oligarch was placed on a European Union sanctions blacklist over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’.
MoneyGram CEO Alex Holmes told Reuters that Formula One and Haas were the perfect fit for a company that operates in more than 200 countries and territories and is seeking to energise its brand.
Next year will have a record 24 races across 21 countries and five continents, including three in the United States.
“We like to think of ourselves as one of the fastest ways to send money and F1 being one of the fastest sports in the world we think it is a fantastic overlap and extremely unique opportunity for us,” Holmes told Reuters.
“When you think about Haas itself they are a bit of a rock and roll kind of team and under Gene’s leadership and partnership with Guenther (Steiner, team principal) I think they have created a really compelling team.
“Many people might thing they (Haas) are kind of underdogs and absolutely that’s what’s fun about it – people want to root for them, they want them to be successful and I think it is great partnership.”
MoneyGram has explored sport sponsorship before and has partnered ICC Cricket and Major League Soccer club FC Dallas.
Holmes said the company had many opportunities to get into Formula One but it was only recently that it found the right fit and timing, with the sport seeing a spike in popularity partly due to the acclaimed Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’.
The three races in America, including the U.S. Grand prix near MoneyGram’s Dallas home base, were attractive with Holmes describing the addition of Las Vegas to the calendar as a “game changer”.
“I think it was a combination of (things) a changing of the framework around the brand Formula One, the introduction of some of the new races and clearly the association with Netflix’s ‘Drive To Survive’ that’s really brought in a completely different demographic,” he said.
“The Vegas race I think is a game changer. I think Miami has a lot of glitz.
“Races that have been so historic, so iconic for so many years, like Monaco, hold that lustre, but to add something like Las Vegas I think is like Monaco modernised on steroids.
“It is an opportunity to make the sport just come alive in the U.S. market.”
The Haas driver lineup features Danish veteran Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher, son of seven-times world champion Michael, but the German is out of contract at the end of the season and faces an uncertain future.
Haas have in the past required drivers to bring sponsorship, or the backing of Ferrari, but Steiner indicated that the team will face fewer limitations in a number of areas as a result of the MoneyGram deal.
“With the right finances everything goes better,” he told Reuters. “We are working to see what we want to do … we don’t put a deadline on because otherwise if we don’t achieve it you put yourself under pressure to make a decision and maybe the wrong one or you disappoint people.
“We keep completely open and once we know exactly what we want, once we have done a deal, we will announce it.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris
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