The sole Indian presence on the Formula 1 grid has ended with the sport’s connectivity partner Tata Communications deciding to end its sponsorship agreement after an eight-year association.
A source close to the Indian company has confirmed the development. “Yes, both Tata Communications and Formula 1 have ended their partnership. The sponsorship deal ended on December 31,” the source said.
Amit Sinha Roy, Vice President (Marketing) at Tata Communications, said the time has come to explore “other platforms”.
“We have decided to bring to a close our marketing partnership with F1 and explore other platforms that will allow us to showcase the full power of our digital services to our key customers,” Sinha Roy said in a statement.
“We are proud of the fact that for eight years, we played central role in the digital transformation of F1 and its entire ecosystem: enabling the organisation that runs the sport, Formula 1, to innovate…
“…Helping the reigning world champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport to win; and working with 20+ broadcasters to bring the action to millions of fans worldwide,” said Roy.
The Pune-based provider of telecommunications solutions and services contributed significantly to sport’s digital transformation. Tata Communications also worked extensively with champion outfit Mercedes, who have been winning the Formula 1 Constructors’ Title since 2014.
Besides Mercedes, Tata has also worked with Williams, as recently as last season, besides broadcasters like Sky.
“Our work in F1 also paved the way for new customer relationships with leading broadcasters like Sky and Star Sports to which we remain committed,” Roy added.
Under new owners Liberty Media, which took over in January 2017, Formula 1 has embarked on an intense digital journey in times when more people are live streaming race content than watching it live on television.
In 2018, Formula 1 introduced a television subscription streaming service with an aim to engage 500 million fans worldwide.
Tata was the sole remaining Indian presence in the sport following the unceremonious exit of Vijay Mallya from Force India (now called Racing Point) in 2017.
The last Indian to race in Formula 1 was Narain Karthikeyan who drove for the defunct HRT squad in 2012. The only other Indian to have reached the pinnacle of motor racing is Karun Chandhok.
India hosted a Formula 1 race for three years (2011-2013), at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, before it was dropped from the calendar due to financial and taxation issues.
According to Forbes magazine, Tata Communications was paying Formula 1 USD 4 million annually as part of the deal.