Petronas Turned Down Williams, Lotus for Mercedes

When Petronas terminated their deal with BMW Sauber F1 Team and switched to Mercedes GP for the upcoming 5 years of Formula One, the move attracted immense criticism from both the Malaysian media and the management team at Lotus F1 Team. And that's because the Malaysian oil company decided to back another team, when they could have supported their own countrymen in their return to the series.

However, talking to The Star newspaper during Mercedes' livery launch in Stuttgart on Monday, Vice president of corporate services Ahmad Nizam Salleh revealed that the choice for a sponsorship backing in F1 was actually quite hard. And that's because there were several teams on Petronas' list before the Malaysian officials decided to sign with Mercedes.

In addition, Salleh told the media that their title sponsorship deal with Mercedes, although spread on the upcoming 5 years, will undergo changes on a year-to-year basis, depending on the team's behavior in the series.

Four teams were short-listed – Williams, Sauber, Mercedes and Lotus. But Mercedes offered the best package and what they asked for was quite attractive,” said Salleh.

The Petronas official dismissed rumors that his company chose Mercedes because of the signing of 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher, although he did admit the prospect of seeing the German back in the series was somehow influential in inking an agreement.

Schumacher's return makes for bigger visibility and it is an unexpected mileage for us. We heard rumours that he was thinking of coming back to F1 when we started the negotiations, but he was still attached to another team (Ferrari) and we had no inkling at that point that he was signing up,” concluded the Petronas official.
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