Today it was announced that the DS Automobiles arm of French manufacturer Citroën will sponsor Mathershaw Technology in the Formula Virtual World Championship. Both Team Principal Arthur Lapierre and Technical Director Robert Mathershaw were in attendance for the announcement, along with engine supplier Bradley Downton. The arrival of the French marque to the championship will coincide with the return of the Mathershaw name after the withdrawal of Liverpool V-Prix after 2016.
The team were at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit to announce the deal, with Lapierre Junior Olen Inman also in attendance to demonstrate the current RJM-003 car to the crowd in an interim DS Automobiles livery.
'I got a call late last year from Bradley telling me about DS wishing to increase their commitment to FV beyond engine technology, and I immediately gave Robert a ring. We knew that we had a year locked in to our agreements in 2015, but after that we knew what we wanted. DS are a brand with high ambitions matching ours, and we are delighted to represent them in the most prestigious motor racing championship in the world. I also believe this deal highlights the cooperation between us and Downton as much as it does with us and DS. We are running an engine that they design with a lot of input from both DS and ourselves, and we are committed to working with them to improve the engine to keep us at the front.
Mathershaw seemed similarly excited by the deal: 'Citroën are one of the most innovative companies in the automotive industry. From the very start they've been at the forefront of the technology involved, from the Traction Avant which revolutionised drive train technology and also was the first car to use a semi monocoque design, right the way through to the original DS which was the first to use the disc brakes that are the norm now. Then you have the Citroën technical partners such as Total and Michelin who provide industry leading products which are world renowned. That is the sort of expertise we are working with now, and I couldn't be happier.'
Bradley Downton: 'As a team and an engine manufacturer, we're very pleased and excited by this announcement. I've been asked if we're worried about our engine partner effectively having their own team - in what is a somewhat unusual situation - but no, we're not. The announcement means more resources are going into all areas and Mathershaw Technology, ourselves and DS will strive to push all parties forward as technical partners.'
Other than the main technical partners Downton, Total and Michelin, it doesn't appear that any sponsorship deals have been agreed, though rumours indicate that the signing of deals with multiple French companies is imminent. It is also believed that the driver line-up is in the process of being finalised, with current drivers Karl Beckenbauer and Adrien Simon on the verge of signing for a fourth season in the team.