McLaren announced yesterday, that it was severing its title sponsorship deal with Phillip Morris's Marlboro brand, and replacing it with the German company Reemtsma's West brand. Phillip Morris have had a 23 year association with McLaren, the longest running Sponsorship deal in Formula 1.
On the tail of the annoucement, speculation has heightened that the McLarens will run in a silver grey shade, perhaps reviving the Mercedes Silver Arrows of the 1950's. Ferrari is also expected to be now known as Marlboro Ferrari next year.
The five year deal with Reemtsma is said to be worth approximately $194 Million dollars (US).
With the news of McLaren's new sponsor, came suggestions that the current World Championship leader, Damon Hill, will move from Williams to McLaren for 1997. Hill's current contract is up this year and it is thought that McLaren desire someone with his technical ability.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen continues to be linked to the spare Williams seat, despite pressure from Bernie Ecclestone for Frank Williams to retain his current driver line up.
Mclaren boss Ron Dennis has maintained that his driver line up next year would be "David Coulthard and the best available driver in the opinion of McLaren and Mercedes-Benz."
Michael Schumacher returned to Maranello, Italy, fresh from his truimph in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday. Schumacher was cautious about his chances in the upcoming Italian Grand Prix. "We mustn't forget that Williams have almost always been superior this season." noted Schumacher
In a post-win press reception at the famous Ferrari headquaters, Schumacher warned the press "We'll give it our all, it will be another great battle, but we can't think of going to Monza as absolute favourites."
The Ferrari team is already testing at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks time. Eddie Irvine tested in the test car fitted with the 6 speed gearbox and early 1996 rear suspension. He did only 14 laps because of wet weather conditions with a best time of 1:44.266.