Qatar Airways officially sponsors the Formula One World Championship

Qatar Airways has become the official global airline partner of the Formula One World Championship, the two parties announced on Wednesday.

Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, and his Italian counterpart, Stefano Domenicali, announced the agreement in Doha, before the start of the new season of the championship in Bahrain on the third of next March.

While they did not announce the value of the deal, sources said it amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars for Formula One.

“Our shared global reach makes us an ideal partnership,” Domenicali said in a statement issued by Qatar Airways announcing the “global partnership.”

“We have been selective in selecting the most exclusive sporting events and sponsoring a variety of new and notable initiatives,” Al Baker added.

The state-owned Qatar Airways is succeeding its Gulf rival, Emirates Airline, which has reportedly paid $25 million annually to Formula One since 2013.

Reports indicated that the United Arab Emirates rejected a major increase when it held negotiations on a new long-term agreement last year.

The move gives Qatar, which hosted the soccer World Cup last year, influence in a new sport as it ramps up its campaign to become an international sports hub.

A major renovation is underway at the Qatar racetrack for the return of the Grand Prix to the Formula One calendar on October 8.

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