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Unilever teams up with McLaren F1 on applied technology partnership

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 15: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving the (55) McLaren F1 Team MCL34 Renault in the Pitlane during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 15, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

McLaren Racing has signed a multi-year applied technology partnership with Unilever, starting in the 2020 Formula 1 season.

The partnership will not focus on Unilever’s consumer brands but will aim to drive developments in performance and energy efficiency, digital technology and talent management.

SportBusiness Sponsorship understands from industry sources that marketing assets will form part of the deal, but that the sponsorship is not worth much more than £1m (€1.2m/$1.3m) per year – less than McLaren’s deals with its main on-car sponsors.

It is also thought that the presentation of the powerful Unilever brand in the F1 team’s sponsorship portfolio could benefit McLaren in terms of its wider sponsorship sales programme.

Dave Penrith, chief engineer at Unilever said that the combined efforts of the partnership will be used “to solve both current and future challenges with some of the best engineering minds in the world, and also develop the next level of talent within our companies.”

Penrith added: “The application of McLaren technology and culture will be an important component as we make our business ever more agile, sustainable and responsive to customers and consumers.”

Unilever’s link with McLaren will tap into the Formula One racing team’s application of technologies and methodologies to industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, FMCG and aviation.

In terms of engineering, the deal aims to improve performance and energy efficiency through areas such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling and build deeper insights into material science.

In terms of digital, the partnership will augment and enhance capabilities in areas such as sensor technology and analytics of complex systems.

In connection with talent, the partnership will include rotational placements, mentorships, inclusivity programmes and the co-creation of an Engineering Academy.