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October 19, 2006

Banking innovator goes for FI experience

Dutch financial services giant ING has seen the brand benefits of events with its title sponsorship of the Renault Formula One Team.

The banking innovator is clearly keen to be associated with a sport that leads automotive engineering and has a truly global presence backed by a huge attending and international media audience. ING replaces tobacco brand Mild Seven, part of Japanese Tobacco, for the start of the 2007 F1 season, following last year's European ban on tobacco sponsorship.

ING and Renault F1 have signed an initial three-year agreement, as part of which the financial services firm's branding will appear on Renault F1 cars, as well as off-track. The deal is likely to cost ING in the region of £24 million a year for the much sought after, yet rare, brand boosting opportunity.

Commenting on the move, Flavio Briatore, Renault F1 Team's managing director, was unreserved in his praise for Japanese Tobacco, showing that ING has a tough act to follow. "We would like to take the opportunity to thank Mild Seven for their unstinting support during the past 13 seasons,” he said. “Their loyalty and dedication stand as examples for corporate involvement throughout Formula One.

"They entered the sport as winners, with world championship victory as Benetton's title sponsor in 1994 and 1995. After last year's dramatic double championship win with Renault, we are working flat out to ensure they can leave the sport in the same way."

Renault's Fernando Alonso is set be crowned F1 World Champion at this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix. The Spaniard needs to score just one point to take the crown, while challenger Michael Schumacher needs to win with Alonso finishing outside the points.

By the start of the 2007 season, Ferrari will be the sole team with a tobacco firm, Marlboro, as its principal sponsor.

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