Despite the global financial crisis, Ferrari has inked a new sponsorship deal with a car manufacturer. The famous Italian formula one team will add Tata, an Indian multinational, to its roster of backers in 2009, president Luca di Montezemolo told Italian media on Wednesday.

"For the first time an Indian brand will appear on the Ferrari," he said. "It's historic."

A Ferrari spokesman confirmed the deal, with the details set to be announced in due course.

Tata was associated with the Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan's formula one career, first with Jordan in 2005 and subsequently at Williams. The boss of Tata, Ratan Tata, is also already heavily involved with Ferrari’s parent company Fiat, joining the Italian carmaker’s board back in 2006 after he was recommended by the Agnelli family, and both firms are already tied up over an engine supply deal.

The same year that Tata joined Fiat’s board, the Italian carmaker increased its stake in Ferrari to 85% and it still retains an option on a further 5% sold to Arab Emirates' Mubadala Development. Speaking previously with Italian media, Tata described his passion for cars and aircraft, explaining that he’s always dreamt of being able to be a fighter pilot as well as participating in the shareholding of Ferrari.

As Ferrari expands into the rapidly growing Indian market a partnership with Tata could turn out to be extremely lucrative.