Chelsea Football Club joins forces with Sauber F1

Sauber_F1_Chelsea-TeamPartner

Football and Motorsport. Haven’t we heard something like this before? Well of course, that’s what Superleague Formula was supposed to achieve, bringing together two of the most watched sports into a single sponsorship package. What could go wrong?

Well, quite a lot actually. Like A1 GP, Superleague Formula became a siding for drivers who’d failed to reach Formula 1, but with over three-quarters of 2011 season events cancelled and no announcement yet for 2012, it’s surely time to use those hackneyed words, “They think it’s all over…it is now.”

So what’s a billionaire Russian oligarch to do? If you’re Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich then you get into bed with the happening F1 team of the moment, Sauber F1.

It’s not the first time Abramovich has been seen near a Formula 1 car – his super-yacht used to be a regular fixture outside Monaco’s harbour (during the grand prix), although whether he was actually watching any of the racing is unclear.

The joint press release from Sauber F1 and Chelsea FC this morning, talked of a “new and innovative partnership”, but I couldn’t see anything innovative beyond the obvious contra-branding deal and “..a focus on synergies and ways to enhance performance in business and sporting matters.”

..I’ve always welcomed Formula 1 as a haven away from  football, so let’s hope this move by Chelsea and Sauber doesn’t start a trend..

At the Chinese Grand Prix earlier this month, subtle Chelsea branding ‘Out of the blue’ featured on Sauber F1 team cars, and ‘True Blue’ continued the tease at the Bahrain race, which the Chelsea FC statement said “..left fans guessing as to its meaning.” Really? I can’t say I even noticed it.

Perhaps I’m just a luddite of ‘The Beautiful Game’, but I’ve always welcomed Formula 1 as a haven away from football, so let’s hope this move by Chelsea and Sauber doesn’t start a trend..

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said: “This is an innovative partnership that will see a football club link up with an F1 team like never before, bringing together two of the world’s biggest sports and uniting our fans.

“We felt that this Swiss team, the fourth oldest of the existing teams, reflects our own ideals perfectly.

“In a year when Chelsea celebrates 20 seasons as a Premier League team, Sauber does so as an F1 team. We share many philosophies when it comes to how the respective organisations are run, from the development of young talent to constantly striving for success. Their philosophy towards grassroots development has produced some of the best drivers in F1, which mirrors our dedication to develop promising young football talent through our Academy.

“This partnership will benefit us both greatly, with the potential to create unique commercial opportunities. It is a shared vision to unite the two most attractive sports in the world.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO of Sauber F1, added: “A partnership like this between Formula 1 and football has never existed before in this form, yet there are numerous commonalities and possible synergies. The Sauber F1 Team and Chelsea FC are dealing with many of the same sporting and commercial topics and we want to strengthen each other in these areas.”

Sauber F1 confirmed that both partners would “..feature the other partner’s logo and thus benefit from a significant market presence outside their original sport.” Chelsea FC will display the Sauber F1 Team logo at home matches on advertising boards at the stadium and on interview walls, whilst Sauber F1 will display Chelsea FC’s logo prominently on the side of both race cars.

The newly-liveried Sauber C31 will be seen for the first time at the Spanish Grand Prix, during the weekend of 11th – 13th May 2012.