Saudia has an iconic status in the sport’s history thanks to its close connections with Williams at the time the team emerged as a frontrunner.
Frank Williams was the first F1 team boss to look towards the Middle East for financial support, and the airline’s logo appeared on the rear wing of the private March he ran for Patrick Neve in 1977.
The name was much more prominent on the team’s own FW06 in 1978. Williams subsequently won its first Grand Prix with Saudia backing at Silverstone with Clay Regazzoni in 1979, and its first title with Alan Jones the following season.
Over the years, other sponsors gained prominence on the cars but Williams continued to sport Saudia backing until 1984.
More recently the airline has had a close involvement with Formula E.
Its return to F1 with Aston Martin is logical given that the Silverstone team already has strong ties to Saudi Arabia via its Aramco co-title sponsorship deal.
“We are delighted to welcome Saudia onboard,” said Jeff Slack, Aston Martin’s managing director commercial and marketing.
“And it’s a great pleasure to announce our new partnership ahead of the Kingdom’s round of the World Championship in Jeddah this weekend.
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“Clearly, there’s a strategic alliance between the worlds of air travel and F1 – we will explore that together, as well as look to efficiently manage our global travel footprint.
“The arrival of Saudia not only underlines the opportunities that F1 presents to companies on an unprecedented global scale, it also highlights the strength and appeal of the Aston Martin name to like-minded brands looking for unique, collaborative partnerships.”
“We believe in the power of sports to unite people and create a borderless world,” said Saudia group chief marketing officer Khaled Tash.
“Therefore, we have been highly selective in choosing top global sporting teams that share our vision. With a passion for driving innovation and sustainability-focused initiatives, we are confident that we have found a natural partner in Aston Martin.”
Middle Eastern airlines have been keen to exploit the sport in recent years, with Emirates, Etihad and Gulf all long involved as race sponsors, and Qatar recently announcing a new partnership with F1 itself.
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