LONDON // The Renault team's main sponsor ING Group announced today that it was pulling out of Formula One at the end of the 2009 season. "In light of the recently announced cost reduction programme, ING confirmed today not to renew the three-year sponsorship (2007-2009) contract with Renault F1 and to end its presence in F1 beyond the 2009 season," ING said in a statement. As well as backing the former world champions, who have Spain's 2005 and 2006 world champion Fernando Alonso as their main driver, ING have been heavily involved in trackside advertising.
They are the official sponsors of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 29 as well as those in Belgium, Hungary and Turkey. In addition, the Dutch financial group had on-track branding at 13 of last season's 18 races. The group announced last month that they would cut operating expenses by ?1billion euros (Dh4.6bn) in 2009 as well as scrapping 7,000 jobs worldwide out of a total 130,000.
ING were by far the largest sponsor on Renault's books and, according to estimated figures published in a Formula Money report last year, the second largest in the sport. The report estimated that ING were paying some US$86 million (Dh318.6m) annually into the sport, with around US$65m of that going to Renault. *Reuters