Renault R30 F1 car – click above for high-res image gallery
Renault F1's got itself a new sponsor: Lada. The Russian automaker's logo will appear on the R30 racing cars, as seen above, as well as the driver and crew uniforms. The announcement was made at a meeting held this Monday in Moscow, attended by Vladimir Putin, Carlos Ghosn, new Renault F1 pilot Vitaly Petrov, and a gaggle of other functionaries.
If you think the Lada sponsorship has anything to do with Renault F1 bringing the Russian rookie on board as the full-time #2 driver alongside lead guy Robert Kubica, you're right. It pretty much has everything to do with it, as both Genii Capital (the majority stakeholder in Renault F1) and Renault-Nissan (25% stakeholders in AvtoVaz, Lada's parent) actively work to advance their interests in Russia.
Petrov's hiring is part of a broader overture toward Russia (on Monday, Ghosn came right out and said that Petrov's nationality played a role in his selection), and the Lada sponsorship is obviously a reciprocal act. And it may not be the last one, either, as Putin indicated during Monday's meeting that Russia (i.e. Lada) could increase its sponsorship involvement in the future.
Clearly, the most important takeaway from all this, however, is that the idea of a shirtless Vladimir Putin, watching the Monaco GP from the deck of a Typhoon-class sub moored among the superyachts in Monaco Harbor, no longer seems completely outlandish.