2023 F1: Williams FW45 revealed; Gulf announced as sponsor

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Gulf Oil’s new partnership with Williams Racing extends to the team’s driver and E-Sports academies.

Williams Racing has taken the wraps off its FW45 racer for the upcoming 2023 F1 season. One of F1’s most historically prominent teams has now teamed up with another racing giant in the form of Gulf Oil. While the exact duration of the partnership isn’t known, Williams confirms that it is a “multi-year” one and extends to the team’s driver academy as well.

  • FW45 features heavily evolved sidepod concept
  • Gulf on board in multi-year deal
  • Albon, Sargeant driving for Williams this year

Gulf-Williams partnership extends to Williams Driver Academy

The Gulf Oil brand returned to F1 in 2020 in partnership with McLaren – a brand with which it has collaborated closely since 1968. This even resulted in the fan-favourite 2021 Monaco GP livery. However, that renewed partnership ran its course at the end of 2022.

In conversation with Autocar India, Gulf Oil international CEO Mike Jones explained what made Williams the perfect fit for Gulf. “We looked at a number of different options, and we found that Williams shares the same culture as Gulf – a lot of passion, a lot of great team work. I’m really excited to see what’s going on here, and really confident that the team’s going to progress in the next few years,” he said.

The partnership also includes the Williams Esports and Driver Academy. “E-sports is a really important part for us because it attracts the younger generation. So it’s a great opportunity for us to attract Gulf to a younger generation,” explained Jones.

For now, the deal between Williams and Gulf Oil has been described as a multi-year “strategic partnership”. However, Williams Racing Board Member James Bower added that it “could evolve into technical partnership further down the line.”

Williams FW45 revealed

While Williams’ 2023 F1 challenger doesn’t quite feature the iconic Gulf livery, the new livery does feature plenty of Gulf badging. The team says it has “heavily evolved” the sidepod concept after optimising the power unit cooling layout.

Further changes have been made to the front suspension layout and other external aerodynamic surfaces.

Gulf’s racing heritage

The iconic orange and blue Gulf livery is perhaps one of the most well-known in motorsport history. It gained further prominence after being featured in the 1971 movie, Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen.

“These are two very iconic brands with a lot of heritage,” said Alex Albon, who is embarking on his second F1 season with Williams.

“I’ve followed those Gulf-coloured cars in motorsport from a young age, whether it’s from endurance racing or the Ford GT40s. But coming into F1 now, it’s great to see the synergies. As two companies, we are team-oriented, but also performance-oriented. I’ve seen in my previous history of working with other teams how these kind of partnerships can push teams together and improve performance. So I’m very excited.”

India a key market for Gulf

While F1 continues to gain a massive following around the world, in small part due to the success of Netflix’s Drive to Survive series, there is no denying that the sport is still in its nascency in India (especially when compared to the cult-like popularity of cricket). But Jones highlights India as an important market for Gulf, and the brand is set to use its new Williams partnership to take promotions up a notch, both for the brand and F1.

“We’re looking at a number of activations for the Indian market specifically; we’ll be announcing those activations in the coming months. What I will say is they will be quite spectacular. I’m really looking forward to doing a lot of engagement, not just in terms of F1, but on Williams and Gulf’s partnership within India.”

Williams 2023 F1 drivers

Alex Albon stays on for another year with Williams, but the team does have a new signing in the form of American driver Logan Sargeant, who replaces Nicholas Latifi. The 21-year-old finished fourth overall in last year’s F2 championship, and he’s the first American to race in F1 since Alexander Rossi in 2015.

Williams also have a new team boss, with former Mercedes strategist James Vowles joining in place of Jost Capito. It’s been a challenging few years for the team, who have finished last in four out of the past five seasons (eighth place in 2021 being the only exception). They’ll be hoping all these changes will give them some renewed form to climb up the order.

Also see:

2023 F1 grid: Here’s the confirmed driver line-up

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