DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw have announced their sponsorship deals for the 2016 season, with no fewer than 10 new contracts being signed for the upcoming season.
The large number of deals comes as a result of the team opting to run without a single title sponsor, instead forming partnerships with several brands who will be heavily involved with promotion of both the team and Formula Virtual as a whole.
The technical partnerships forged by the company have been a talking point in FV, with Downton being a major partner in the French marque's entry to the sport, producing the engines used by the team which are then tuned by DS engineers. As well as extensive support from Amesbury, the team can rely on bespoke tyres from Michelin, who supply the majority of the FV grid with rubber to the specification required by each team, while Total provide the fuel and lubricants, which could prove crucial should DS gain the upper hand over the BP-fuelled Downton works team.
One of the more exciting technical partnerships comes in the form of the French motorsport governing body, the FFSA. They will provide extensive testing opportunities for the team across the various racetracks in the country, while DS will make the commitment to run the most successful French talent in FV machinery.
French companies are very much to the fore, with only a single member of the team's sponsorship portfolio coming from outside of France.
Richard Mille and Eurodatacar both remain as sponsors after joining the Liverpool team along with DS in the latter half of 2015, and will be joined as Global Partners by Adidas, Credit Agricole, TF1, Bouygues Telecom, Air France, Carrefour and Matmut. While the sponsor's logos will adorn the new RJM-004DS when it is released, there will be significant cross-promotion, including:
When asked about these deals, team principal Arthur Lapierre said: 'I am delighted to welcome all of these brands as partners of DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw. We've moved away from the title sponsorship model we've had over the past two seasons, and as a result, we've been able to forge some partnerships that are extremely exciting. As the best French team in Formula Virtual, we've got the perfect platform to showcase the best companies of L'hexagone to the world, while we are excited by the projects we have ahead of us as we look to increase the profile of FV.'
North Star Team Principal Nick Forrest has announced that Judson Sikes will race for the team during the 2016 season, on a one-year loan deal with Ocelot.
The Russian made his Formula Virtual debut in the 2015 Malaysian V-Prix, after sitting out the opening round in Australia for Scott Parsons, and later scoring his and Ocelot's first points during the Spanish race at Jerez, where he finished 9th.
"We are very excited at North Star to have Judson coming on board for our debut season," Forrest said in a press release, "His junior record stands up amongst the best of them, and in the short time he has spent in Formula Virtual, he has proven that he is fully deserving of his place on the grid, and a potential star of the future. Both we and Ocelot are delighted to be able to provide him with a race seat for the upcoming year, and look forward to seeing what he can deliver in 2016."
Ocelot made significant waves in the 2016 driver market when they signed Karl Beckenbauer from Liverpool in October, as the move was seen as a major coup for the Japanese team. The three-time race winner joined Downton Youth Academy member Kiara Thunder in the line-up, apparently leaving Sikes demoted to the role of test driver. However, the deal reached between Ocelot and North Star will see Sikes remain on the grid for his second season in the sport.
"Absolutely, I'm very pleased to be driving for them," Sikes told reporter when asked about the deal with North Star. "It's great for me to be racing again in Formula Virtual next year. I think it's very exciting to be part of North Star as a new team joining the sport, it look very promising from the preparations I've seen. I hope they can give me a good car, and I can do for them what I've been doing for Ocelot this season."
Ocelot Team Principal Rai Miyamoto also provided his thoughts on the move. "As stated earlier, we have been working around the clock to secure Judson a seat at a team somewhere after he unfortunately just missed out, we believe he will help North Star in their debut season and give them fantastic feedback to help prep them forward."
Liverpool V-Prix Racing have revealed the livery with which Karl Beckenbauer will make his final start with the team during the German V-Prix. He departed the team following the split between Liverpool and Vauxhall, with whom Karl was contracted, though due to the team's close relationship with Karl, he has been given a farewell race at his home event. Following this, he will move to Warrior, who run the Mercedes engines with which Mathershaw and Beckenbauer made their debuts in 2013.
The livery commemorates the time the German spent with the team, with his racing record on the nose of the car, while his three wins with the team are shown on the engine cover. At Karl's request, the Standard Chartered logos have been replaced with those of the bank's charity, Seeing is Believing.
It's going to be a difficult race for all involved, as it sees the end of a partnership stretching back to the very first race of Virtual Grand Prix Racing. The split is said to be 'on good terms'.