One rumour doing the rounds in F1 circles at the moment is that Japan’s Panasonic wants to stay in F1 and with Toyota having folded up its F1 tent the sponsorship, agreed for three years in March last year, is up for grabs. It is rumoured to be worth around $48m a year.
Panasonic and Toyota have been together since 2001 and there is an industrial alliance between them over the supply of batteries for the Toyota hybrids but at the same time the company wants the publicity that F1 provided, not least because rival LG is now big in F1 circles. If such a deal were to go ahead it would be safe to assume that Kamui Kobayashi might be included. The problem is that Toyota is not keen for Panasonic to do any B2B deals with Renault. Even if the Panasonic deal with Renault is not possible Renault may be considering Kobayashi as he would be useful for Renault’s partner Nissan.