Etihad Airways has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the Ferrari F1 team, the current Formula One world championship holders. The airline’s chief executive officer James Hogan signed the deal with the Ferrari F1 Grand Prix team, ahead of the opening of the Formula One race of the season in Melbourne on Sunday 16 March.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline’s name will feature prominently on the rear wing and side of the world’s most famous red cars throughout the 18-race 2008 Formula One season.
Mr Hogan said: “Sports sponsorship is a major part of Etihad’s marketing strategy and the growing association we are building with Formula One is a key driver to enable us to reach a global audience.
“With a TV audience of 2.5 billion people in nearly 200 countries, the association with Ferrari will give Etihad enormous worldwide exposure and help bring Abu Dhabi to the world.
“Ferrari is already developing a close association with our Abu Dhabi home base, through an exciting new theme park being built in the city, so this deal represents a natural partnership for Etihad. We share similar ambitions, to be the best in our respective fields.”
The iconic Ferrari racing brand is set to open a USD 600 million, 2,500 acre theme park in 2009 that will include 24 attractions.
The highlights of ‘Ferrari World’ will include a 70-metre tall G-Force Tower, the world’s first F1 branded twin roller coaster ride which will allow races between carriages, simulator rides, a race track, luxury hotels, apartments, villas, a golf course and dozens of restaurants.
Ferrari is already sponsored by Mubadala Development Company, an investment company owned by the government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with the company holding a five per cent stake in the 2007 world championship winning F1 team.
Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari, said: “We are pleased to enter into this new partnership that reinforces our links with the United Arab Emirates. The collaboration with Etihad Airways is in addition to that with the Mubadala Development Company, which is already a sponsor and shareholder of the company. Then there is Abu Dhabi where the first Ferrari theme park is being built.”
Etihad Airways’ logo will have prominent branding on the Ferrari F1 cars and the drivers’ helmets, starting at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. Etihad will also feature on the clothing of Ferrari’s two drivers, F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen and his driving partner Felipe Massa, from the Malaysian Grand Prix at the end of March.
The Ferrari F1 team sponsorship deal follows a separate three-year deal signed by Etihad Airways in December 2007 to become the title sponsor of the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, starting with the inaugural event in 2009.
The deal will see the F1 race in the UAE’s capital city named the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix until 2011.
Etihad’s involvement with the Ferrari F1 team is the latest high-profile sports sponsorship for the airline, and complements existing partnerships with Chelsea Football Club, Harlequins Rugby Football Club and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.