TAG Heuer extends 25-year partnership with McLaren

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Fresh from launching its 150th anniversary celebrations at a glittering event at the McLaren Technology Centre on the evening of Wednesday December 2, premium timepiece brand TAG Heuer announced that it has extended its partnership with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team.

The relationship, signed in 1985, is one of the longest sporting sponsorship deals in history, and today’s announcement underlines the ongoing successes that both brands continue to enjoy together.

Among the guests of honour at last night’s event were Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver and 2008 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, TAG Heuer president and CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, the brand’s honorary chairman, Jack Heuer, executive chairman of McLaren Automotive and founding shareholder of McLaren Group Ron Dennis and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

However, the limelight belonged to a classic McLaren Formula 1 car – the MP4/2C, the car driven by Frenchman Alain Prost to a sensational world drivers’ title in 1986 – which had been lovingly restored by the team’s engineers and was last night driven by Lewis around the spectacular lakeside entrance to the MTC.

He parked the car at the entrance to the building alongside last year’s championship-winning MP4-23, and the two legendary machines neatly encapsulated the ongoing strength and health of a 25-year-old winning relationship. And while last night’s event tipped its hat to the past, TAG Heuer, as ever, is looking to the future: 2010 is set to be an extraordinary anniversary year.

- it will mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the company, which proudly bears the legend ‘Swiss avant garde since 1860’

- it will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its relationship with the McLaren Formula 1 team

- it will see the launch of TAG Heuer’s first-ever in-house movement, the 1887; the first time the Swiss watchmaker has developed its very own mechanism

- it will also mark the relaunch of the classic Heuer Silverstone watch from the 1970s

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “To announce the extension of a partnership that has already prospered for 25 years not only says a lot about the very close relationship that exists between TAG Heuer and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, but it also speaks volumes about the appeal, strength and sustainability offered to all partners by Formula 1.

“We both share a passion for precision technology, and we measure life in Formula 1 by the stopwatch, so the long and prosperous relationship we’ve enjoyed with TAG Heuer feels entirely natural.”

TAG Heuer president and CEO Jean-Christophe Babin added: “It’s a matter of considerable pride to all of us at TAG Heuer that we can not only look back on a fantastically successful 25-year relationship, but that we can continue to share our vision together long into the future.

“In many ways, TAG Heuer has become synonymous with Formula 1 and, in particular, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Many of our ambassadors – Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton – have become some of Formula 1’s greatest champions, and our timepieces will long continue to celebrate the accuracy, the precision and even the history of this great sport.”

2008 Formula 1 world champion and TAG Heuer ambassador Lewis Hamilton said: “My long and ongoing relationship with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team means that I’ve really grown up with the TAG Heuer brand. To be able to sit in the very car driven by one of the team’s greatest champions, Alain Prost, is a great honour; it was incredible to get to drive such a piece of history, and to experience a little taste of Formula 1’s, McLaren’s and TAG Heuer’s glorious past.

“Last night’s event really showcased the perfectionism and dedication that TAG Heuer has always shown the team, and it was an honour to be invited. Finally, it’s great news that TAG Heuer has chosen to revive another classic watch with a motorsport connection: the Silverstone. It’s a fantastic watch.”