High technology companies flood into F1

AS Grand Prix racing faces up to a future without tobacco advertising, the sport seems to have found a new source of income in the high technology worlds of telecommunications, information technology and computers. Spain's Telefonica is aiming to become a big name in F1 with the purchase of the Minardi F1 team for a rumored $50m. A consortium of high technology European companies is currently trying to buy control of the Arrows F1 team and Benetton last week unveiled a major deal from communications and IT giant Marconi plc.

Another communications company which is thinking along similar lines is Reuters, which has just signed a sponsorship agreement with BMW Williams. The team will announce today that it has signed a major sponsorship agreement with the giant US computer company Compaq and also has a deal with Canada's Nortel Networks.

McLaren has already announced a deal with Deutsche Telekom's T-D1 mobile phone network. This is Deutsche Telekom's second F1 deal as Benetton is sponsored by T-D1's sister company D2. The T-D1 logo is expected to appear on the McLaren drivers' overalls. The deal is an extension of a T-D1 advertising campaign last year with Mika Hakkinen. McLaren also has alliances with Siemens, Sun Microsystems and Computer Associates.

Jaguar Racing is to carry continued support from the MCI Worldcom telecommunications company while British American Racing has a sizeable sponsorship deal ongoing with Canada's Teleglobe.

Prost Grand Prix has a sponsorship deal with telecommunications company Cegetal and may reveal new alliances when the new car is launched on February 1, while Ferrari - never known for its fast footwork in sponsorship deals - has a telecommunications sponsorship from TIM, the mobile phone service of Telecom Italia.

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