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PKN Orlen follows Kubica to Alfa Romeo Racing in co-title deal

(Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Formula 1 team Alfa Romeo Racing has signed up Polish petroleum company PKN Orlen as Official Co-Title Sponsor in a deal that will also see Robert Kubica return to the team as a reserve driver.

The team will now compete as Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen with PKN Orlen branding featuring on the team’s C39 car and on all team trackside assets inn 2020.

Experts believe the deal is worth between $5m (€4.5m) and $10m per year, but closer to the $5m per year mark, with Alfa Romeo Racing still paying about $20m per year for the co-title and full team rights.

Read this: Alfa Romeo pays Sauber extra for full team rights in 2019

PKN Orlen has sponsored Kubica – the only Polish driver to have participated in F1 – throughout his career, most recently as a partner of Williams F1 during the 2019 season.

Alfa Romeo is thought likely to have chased Kubica’s signature as soon as it became known, in September, that Kubica was leaving the team. In November, Williams F1 announced that Canadian reserve driver Nicholas Latifi would replace Kubica for the 2020 season.

As one of the smaller teams in F1 with relatively low sponsorship values, Alfa Romeo Racing takes a “pragmatic view” on raising sponsorship money, one expert told SportBusiness this morning.

It is also thought that the Fiat Chrysler-owned car brand has lost some of the impetus behind its F1 presence with the passing of Sergio Marchionne, the former chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, in July 2018.

Marchionne was the driving force behind the the team title rights with Sauber Motorsport in 2018. Alfa Romeo is likely to have signed an initial five-year contract for the title rights, which were upgraded to full team rights in 2019.

Frédéric Vasseur, team principal of Alfa Romeo Racing and chief executive of Sauber Motorsport AG, said the new partnership with PKN Orlen was a statement of intent for both parties. “It is proof of the ambition of our common project and of our desire to compete at the very top of Formula One,” he said.

Daniel Obajtek, chief executive and president of the PKN Orlen management board said that value of the brand’s logo on the William F1 car exceeded PLN110m (€25.8m/$28.9m) after 16 races last season.

“Building global brand recognition has also allowed us to start the co-branding process, under which all European [petrol] stations of our network will ultimately operate under one brand,” he said.

“Today, we are taking another important step on this path by associating ourselves with a team that has enormous tradition and history. Robert Kubica, one of the fastest drivers in the world, remains our ambassador.”

PKN Orlen currently has an extensive presence in its home country, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania and Canada.