Click through to view the new livery for the Sahara Force India formula one car

Click through to view the new livery for the Sahara Force India formula one car

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Diageo has secured a second spirits brand to appear on the Formula One starting grid, with Smirnoff set to replace Whyte & Mackay on the Sahara Force India F1 car.

The company said earlier today (1 May) that the Smirnoff logo will appear on the rear wing and top of the chassis of Force India's VJM07 cars, with branding on the sidepods at key races. Drivers’ suits, helmets and team clothing will also carry the Smirnoff eyebrow logo from next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

Financial details behind the tie-up were not disclosed. A Diageo spokesperson told just-drinks today that the terms of the partnership are confidential.

The team principal of Sahara Force India is Vijay Mallya, chairman of the UB Group, which used to be the parent company of the United Spirits division. Diageo started its acquisition of United Spirits in late-2012 and is in the process of pursuing majority control of the unit.

Whyte & Mackay, the Scotch whisky producer that UB Group bought for US$1.18bn in 2007, had previously been a sponsor of the F1 team. Diageo is looking to sell off most of Whyte & Mackay to head of any anti-competitive concerns in the UK.

“Smirnoff will use its position as an official partner of the Sahara Force India Formula One Team to deliver a powerful anti-drink drive message,” the company said today.

Mallya added: “As we continue to make progress on the track, Smirnoff is the ideal brand to help celebrate these moments and open up the sport to new fans.”

In 2005, Diageo announced a tie-up with the McLaren Mercedes team for its Johnnie Walker Scotch brand.

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