Petronas has just moments ago announced that it will be the title sponsor of Mercedes GP! This comes as a surprise after it was widely reported that the national oil company will be ending its involvement in F1 as a team sponsor. The choice of Mercedes GP is also unexpected – after all Malaysia has its “own” team in Lotus F1.

The five-year agreement with Mercedes comes after Petronas’ deal with BMW Sauber ended in the just concluded 2009 season. Under this new deal, Petronas will be the title partner to the Silver Arrows works team, which will be officially known as the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team.

The official media statement explains that “this partnership allows related business arrangements with Mercedes that will support Petronas’ international business expansion efforts, particularly in its global lubricant business. The exclusive rights of a title partner and association with the premium, internationally-renowned Mercedes brand will further enhance Petronas and Malaysia’s ongoing global brand positioning efforts. Petronas will also be able to continue to leverage on the extensive international exposure offered by the sport to grow its existing business activities.”

This tie-up also presents Petronas with the opportunity to utilise and leverage on Mercedes’ long motor sport heritage to further supplement its talent development initiatives as part of its contribution towards the development of Malaysia’s motorsports industry, it said.

Petronas will continue to be the title sponsor of the Malaysian Grand Prix, as reported earlier.

Quotes from Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports and Ross Brawn, Team Principal are after the jump.

UPDATE: The Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team’s race car will make its track debut in its new livery at Valencia on 1 February to start pre-season testing ahead of the 2010 season.

Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports

“We are very pleased to begin our long-term partnership with our new title partner PETRONAS. Daimler, our premium brand Mercedes-Benz and PETRONAS will work together both on and off the track and I am sure that everybody involved will guarantee their absolute dedication to success. PETRONAS’ home base in Kuala Lumpur is located in the middle of a fast-growing region for the automotive industry which makes this new partnership even more valuable. Within the limits of the new Formula One resource restrictions, the Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team will be well positioned to achieve our goals. We will all strive to present efficient success in the future knowing at the same time that the new Formula One season with some fundamental rule changes will be a particularly challenging one.”

Ross Brawn, Team Principal of the Mercedes GP PETRONAS Formula One Team

“Everyone at Mercedes GP is delighted to confirm our long-term agreement with PETRONAS and we look forward to working closely with our new partner in the future. The collaboration of the premium automotive brand Mercedes-Benz and a company as prestigious as PETRONAS gives our team a fantastic base from which to achieve our ambitions of competing at the top level of Formula One and building on the success of 2009 which saw the team achieve the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships. Our plans for the new season are progressing well, as is the development of our 2010 challenger, and we look forward to seeing the car run in the new Silver Arrows and PETRONAS livery at the Valencia test in February.”