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Dennis: F1 still attractive for sponsors

Ron Dennis, Autosport ShowFormula One has no reason to fear that ING's decision to quit the sport is a precursor to other high-profile sponsors heading for the exit.

That is the view of McLaren team principal Ron Dennis, who thinks that F1 continues to offer great value for sponsors despite the financial difficulties faced by companies worldwide.

Banking giants ING announced on Monday morning that it had decided not to extend its involvement in F1 beyond the end of the year, having been Renault's title sponsor since 2007 alongside other involvement that included trackside advertising and race naming rights.

And although doom mongers may suggest that ING's decision to turn its back on F1 may be a warning sign that other big backers could walk away, Dennis thinks that the sport's base remains strong.

Speaking to about what ING's decision meant for F1, Dennis said: "Clearly, it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment specifically on ING's decision, other than to make the observation that it's obviously something of a special case because ING is a bank that has faced particular challenges recently.

"Having said that, I want to take this opportunity to emphasise the fact that Formula One remains a hugely attractive sponsorship proposition, which offers an extremely powerful return on investment for the companies involved.

"Indeed, ING's statement included the following sound bite, reiterating what its marketing executives have said publicly many times: 'Over the past two years, ING has successfully achieved its objectives for the Formula One sponsorship, raising its overall global brand awareness by 16 per cent [March 2007 versus November 2008]. Formula One remains a powerful business driver even in a difficult economic climate.'

"Undoubtedly, that's true. And, working under the umbrella of FOTA, all the Formula One teams intend to do their utmost to power through this economic downturn together, delivering optimum return on our partners' and sponsors' investment as we do so."

ING's decision to leave F1 came after it was forced to make dramatic cost cuts in the wake of an expected one billion Euros loss for 2008.

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