It is more than 20 years since BP was involved in Formula 1 racing, but the word is that the oil major may soon rejoin the party, with rumours suggesting that Renault is the most likely target. McLaren has also been mentioned by the Woking team has a long and successful relationship with ExxonMobil, via its Mobil1 brand and it be a surprise if that were to change. Having said that, Renault has traditionally been involved with the French oil company Total (and its previous subsidiary Elf). This has changed of late, following the death of Christophe de Margerie in a plane crash in Moscow in October 2014. His role has been taken over by Patrick Pouyanné but Total seems to have switched much of its sponsorship to Renault’s rival PSA Peugeot Citroen since then. It has been clear that Renault was looking for a new partner oil company for some time.
It is a difficult time for the oil industry with firms having to adjust to the low price of oil. This fell from over $100 a barrel in mid-2014 to below $30 at the start of this year. The price is still volatile but is currently at around $50 a barrel. The problem has been oversupply, so the best way to drive profits is through winning more market share. BP has suffered badly in recent years because of the damage done to its reputation and the costs relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 when one of its rigs off the coast of Louisiana exploded leaking an estimated 134 million gallons of crude oil into the gulf. The company has now dealt with all the necessary settlements and has sold off a lot of assets to help pay the bills, now it is looking to increase sales by promoting an image of advanced technology, proven expertise and environmental care through promoting more efficient machinery, all on a global scale. This is where F1 fits the bill because of its global penetration and its hybrid technology. It will be interesting to see if the stories come true, as this would be a good sign for F1.