Formula 1 racing is a big deal for Santander, so it stands to reason that results the first race of 2014, the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday in Melbourne, were worth a celebration.
The Santander name was displayed in some form by three of the top four race finishers.
Two drivers sponsored by Spain-based banking giant Santander Group, rookie Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button of McLaren Mercedes, finished on the podium with second- and third-place results, respectively. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso, who drives for the Santander-sponsored Scuderia Ferrari racing team, finished fourth. Alonso’s new Ferrari teammate, Kimi Räikkönen, finished seventh.
The Santander Group is the parent company of Santander Consumer USA, an auto and consumer finance company based in Dallas, TX, and Santander Bank of Boston, MA.
“Big congratulations to the [McLaren] team for a great job,” said a thrilled Magnussen even before learning that he had been promoted to second place following another driver’s disqualification from the race, which opened a 19-race World Championship season.
“I’d have liked to start the season with a podium,” said Alonso. “But getting both [Scuderia Ferrari] cars to the flag is a good result, which can give us confidence. … We are a great team, and I have total faith in our guys, because they did a great job [Sunday].”
Besides the Ferrari and McLaren sponsorships, Santander also sponsors the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim – both in July.
Alonso (2005 and 2006), Räikkönen (2007) and Button (2009) all are former World Champions.
Before the Australia race, Mark Edinger at Motorsports 101 wrote online:
“Ferrari will be a strong challenger [for the World Championship] as they have a driver line up of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen. Räikkönen has moved to Ferrari from Lotus where he was very competitive in 2013. Alonso is considered the most marketable F1 driver globally …. He is known by 71 percent of people globally and 98 percent of people in his home country of Spain.”
Ferrari’s last championship was in 2007 but the team “could be poised this season,” Edinger wrote. Alonso won two grand prix races in 2013 – Spain and China.
Meanwhile, Edinger reported, “McLaren did not score a single podium finish in 2013 and looks to rebound this season. Jenson Button is joined by rookie Kevin Magnussen as the drivers and the car showed speed in testing but did have reliability issues. Eric Boullier, who was behind Lotus’ turnaround, is the new racing director at McLaren and that could mean good things.”
There had been some speculation that the McLaren Mercedes team would take a run at signing Alonso for the 2014 season, to which the driver has said: “I repeat it more or less every weekend and I keep repeating it – I love Ferrari, and I will stay at Ferrari …”
The next race on the Formula 1 schedule is the Malaysia Grand Prix, March 28-30, in Kuala Lumpur. See the full F1 schedule of races at formula1.com.