Telecom Italia is understood to be on the verge of signing a &£25m-a-year deal to sponsor the Ferrari Formula One team.
Alice, the company’s broadband service provider, is in advanced talks with Ferrari to take over from Vodafone as a main team sponsor at the end of the 2006 season.
One industry source says: “The hi-tech image of Formula One is a natural fit for a telecoms firm and with Vodafone out of the way there would be no conflict of interest.”
Alice is already involved with the MotoGP motorcycle competition and is an official partner of the Malboro-funded Ducatti team – a major link as Malboro is the main partner of the Ferrari F1 team.
The company has also been linked to MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, who has regularly tested for the Ferrari F1 team, and is constantly rumoured to be considering switching from two wheels to four.
The news follows last year’s decision by Vodafone to pull out of its &£25m-a-year deal with Ferrari and switch to rival F1 team McLaren in a &£30m-a-year, ten-year package.
It is believed that although Vodafone was willing to extend its deal with the iconic Italian marque, McLaren came up with a more competitive business package including the team’s title sponsorship.