McLaren set to lose fuel supplier and sponsor Petrobras

McLaren MCL34 during Spanish Grand Prix

The McLaren F1 team could be set to lose a major sponsor and supplier in the form of Petrobras, after Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro announced his government were seeking a way out of the current deal.

Petrobras signed a deal with McLaren in 2018, worth £150 million over five years (£30m a year) according to Bolsonaro, although it is understood that McLaren receives less than half that amount, with the remainder spent on research and development within Petrobras.

"In 2018, Petrobras signed an advertising contract of R$782 million with McLaren, valid for 5 years. At the moment, the company, by decision of my government, seeks a way to terminate the contract," the President tweeted.

Petrobras is majority state-owned and therefore the government has a controlling interest in the oil giant.

"It does not make the slightest sense, it's an absurdity, it's not worth it having the little name on the helmet," Brazil’s minister of citizenship, Osmar Terra, told Radar.

The decision comes less than 18 months into the five-year deal and will likely result in a hefty financial penalty for Petrobras to escape the contract early.

Petrobras branding first appeared on the car as part of the deal in 2018.

McLaren switched to using some of Petrobras' lubricants for 2019 and earlier this year indicated that the company's other products would soon be available for use in its Renault-powered MCL34.

It marks another involvement in Formula 1 affairs for the recently-elected Bolsonaro, who claimed earlier this month that his country's grand prix will move to Rio de Janeiro from Sao Paulo for 2020.

Such a move is deemed highly unlikely due to the short timeframe involved, with construction at the proposed venue yet to get underway, while officials at Interlagos have reiterated that the circuit holds a valid contract through 2020.