McLaren closing on title sponsor for 2014
Ron Dennis says McLaren is in negotiations with several companies about title sponsorship this year and is confident a deal will be made at some point over the next few races.
Vodafone's seven-year deal with McLaren came to an end in 2013 and the team had originally planned to announce a replacement last December. However, a deal has yet to be finalised and the car will remain without major branding at the opening race of the season.
Dennis said one reason the team has not reached an agreement with a prospective sponsor is that he is not willing to sell the space on the car for a knock-down rate following McLaren's disappointing season in 2013.
"Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event, but it will definitely feature a title sponsor at some time in the next few races," Dennis said. "Why? Because I strongly believe we are [like] Manchester United, and inevitably when you have a run of poor results people try to push the rate card down and I won't accept that. I know what this company is and I know what this grand prix team can achieve, and that requires the correct recognition when it comes to the commercial relationship with the principal sponsor."
Despite the absence of a title sponsor, Dennis said McLaren has the biggest budget in the team's history this year.
"We are negotiating with several companies at the moment, and I am optimistic it will happen sooner rather than later. Part of being the size that we are, money isn't an issue. The racing team doesn't have to worry about income and has the biggest budget that it's had in the history of the company."