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Sauber buys his team back from BMW
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Sauber buys his team back from BMW
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Nov 2009   |  7:29 pm GMT  |  44 comments

Peter Sauber has bought back his team from BMW and it will race next season as Sauber with Ferrari engines. The deal under which Qadbak, the mysterious Swiss Arab investment vehicle was to acquire the team, is off.

BMW pits
The contract is subject to the team being granted a place on the F1 grid, but as Toyota has withdrawn and Sauber has an unblemished record in F1 and the support of the other teams, particularly Ferrari, the team is hoping that the F1 commission and the World Council should give them the nod at a series of meetings in early December in Monaco. FIA president Jean Todt has always had a strong personal relationship with Sauber, to whom he sold customer Ferrari engines for many years when he was in charge of Gestione Sportiva and it will be interesting to see how much faith the FIA has in the team. One would expect quite a bit. They should be able to pick up in 2010 at a pretty high level.

However Toyota has been trying to tempt new F1 teams and other potential entrants with a deal whereby they can lease the facilities in Cologne and use the intellectual property of next year’s cars. I’m told that the deal on the table is quite attractive and that a group of investors from Serbia are looking at it. It is getting quite late in the day now to pull something together, but this will present an interesting situation at the FIA meetings in early December. Toyota has the entry, Sauber does not. That situation either has to be upheld or overturned in Sauber’s favour, based on which team the FIA believes will do a better long term job.

The door will close on 2010 at the WMSC meeting on December 11.

Sauber tried to buy the team in August after BMW made the surprise decision to pull out of F1, but they could not agree a price. BMW missed the deadline to sign the Concorde Agreement as a result. Qadback came in and did a deal but it was dependent on the team getting an entry and Lotus was granted the 13th slot ahead of the Qadback/BMW offerring.

Lately there were stories about the Qadback deal falling apart and BMW’s misgivings. Now the Munich manufacturer has gone back to Sauber and done the deal it should have done in the summer. So much has been lost by not doing it then and by losing all the commercial rights the team had built up over time. Now non-signatories of the Concorde Agreement, they effectively have to start from scratch commercially.

It is not known yet what price Sauber paid or who his backers are, although I’ve seen rumours on the internet that they may be American. I have yet to get that confirmed. Sauber will downsize the team to 250 employees from the 388 it had grown to and this will be mirrored with other teams over the next 12 months as the resource restriction agreement comes into place.

“I am very relieved that we have found this solution” said Sauber. “It means we can keep the Hinwil location and the majority of workplaces. I am convinced that the new team has a very good future in Formula One, whose current transformation with new framework conditions will benefit the private teams.”

If Sauber gets the nod, it offers a strong option to Nick Heidfeld, who is still waiting to see what Mercedes will do. Another Sauber alumnus, Giancarlo Fisichella, has also been taking to the team about a drive for next year, with Ferrari’s support.

The door closed for Fisi at Force India today as they announced Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi will race for the team again next season. Scotsman Paul di Resta is testing for the team in the young guns test at Jerez next week hoping to be awarded the third driver role.

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44 Comments
  1. carlm21 says:

    This could well signal Nick Heidfeld to Sauber and Kimi Raikkonen to Mercedes. I hope this happens. Do you think it will James?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not sure, but it gives NH a solid option

  2. Tim L says:

    How good would it be see one of the good guys in the paddock ……again on the grid….

  3. Colin says:

    James,

    I wonder if this might lead to a 14th entry for next year. If I recall correctly, the Williams objection to a 14th team was tied to doubts over Qadbak. If the Stefan GP buyout of Toyota is legitimate, do you get the sense that Sauber might be allowed in as #14 under these circumstances?

  4. bwana says:

    I still do not quite understand why a 14th team is not supported by some teams such as Williams.
    I understand that extra teams cut into the commercial money received by established teams, but correct me if i’m wrong, teams in their first year get no end of season payment.

    As the Toyota team have a spot i have a feeling the Sauber team will lose out.

    We are talking about 250+ jobs and a team which has been around for many years. I would think Williams would show some compassion towards Sauber and imagine if he was in the same position.

    1. Maria Felix says:

      They have been always against everything the others came up with in recent years. Their rants are now becoming underhanded and below the belt. Its fairly obvious they fear competition and have no confidence in their own house to get back to the top. Its a slowly dying team. The minority share sale was the first step towards a complete sale in the coming years.

      If it weren’t for the diffuser advantage they would have been fighting to score 1 or 2 points every race. Next year they know the free ride is over with more then 4 teams capable of going for the titles, smaller smarter teams like Force India are going to beat them on track.

      They have no class and they have the nerve to say Jean Todt is argumentative. They need to take a good look at their own selfish selves.

  5. Scott says:

    Why did BMW NOT do the deal in the summer?! It seems absolutely criminal that they wouldn’t sign the concorde agreement and therefore make the team a much more viable proposition for any purchasers – be they Peter Sauber or Qadback…

    1. S2K says:

      Because they are idiots!

      Anyway, good to have Sauber back in Formula 1.

  6. Jameson says:

    It’s sad that BMW held out in negotiations with Peter Sauber only to sell their shares to a ghost. I sincerely hope that the FIA makes the right decision to give Sauber the entry over the defunct Toyota team. Toyota turned their back on Formula One, while Sauber had his hands tied by BMW and couldn’t sign the Concorde.

  7. Silverstoned says:

    This close season is more exciting than some of the races we had in 2009.

  8. piotr says:

    The right timing seems to be a BMW’s Achilles’ heel, isn’t it? To announce it’s withdrawal from F1 circus in the middle of the season definitely did not improve team’s commitment, certainly did not motivate Kubica, especially after disappointing decision of car development discontinuance in 2008 (another mistimed move). Quadback deal was questioned around the media from the very day of it’s birth. Cannot really believe, that Mario Thissen was able to keep that starry-eyed face of his despite all rumours for so long. Maybe he really wanted to believe he will be given the team principal role in Quadback owned team? Look where it all ended… in right person’s hands, but with costly delay. Hope we will see Sauber team on the grid next year.

  9. Niko says:

    Fisi to Sauber makes perfect sense, given that they’ll most likely have Ferrari engines in them, and probably a technical partnership too? Ironic given that Force India has a very similar relationship with McLaren, and who used to drive for them…?

  10. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    I hope they make it to the grid. The FIA/WMSC would be foolish to screw over Sauber, who has a history in the sport, in favor of some late-comers who haven’t paid their dues and are getting a sweet deal from a company which has contributed nothing to F1 despite spending billions.

    I’d put money on Fisi getting one of the seats at Sauber if/when they get on the grid. Sauber will be getting Ferrari engines, Fisi will surely want to be in races, and Ferrari will be keen to loan him out to someone and keep him race fit in the event he has to step into the car again.

    Heidfeld will be the other obvious choice if he doesn’t get the Merc seat. He’s given quite a bit to the team in all the years he’s been with them, and I doubt Sauber would pass him over for someone else. (Much to Christian Klien’s displeasure, no doubt.)

  11. Nick H says:

    I think Sauber should be allowed to race even if Toyota do sell the team.

    Sauber has always been a credit to F1 why deny them the right to race?

    F1 has been losing teams at a alarming rate in recent seasons and Renaults futrue is still in doubt, so Sauber should be weclomed to race with open arms by the FIA.

    1. Vittorio says:

      For what I have learnt, I have to say that FIA was stopping Sauber because they were afraid of the fact that the team could have withdrawn during the year, as Qadbak was not that reliable. Now the team is safe, so I think there will be no issues and Peter Sauber will compete also if Toyota sell the team

  12. ashley edwards says:

    Which teams ARE racing next year?

    1. Med says:

      None of them – they’ll be going round in a procession as per bleeding usual…

  13. Conor says:

    James brilliant insight as usual, this is off topic quite a bit, but what if you were to have a +/- system for the comments that people could click so you could answer the questions that people are most interested in? You put a lot of time into answering our questions, this could possibly be a way to prioritise them

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s an idea. I do get a lot of comments here which is one of the things I like most about the community we’ve built here. The top commenter, rpaco, has left 556 comments this year! Apparently I have made 1130 replies!

      1. def says:

        James

        Another idea I’ve seen on other fora which seems to work – An option to “rate” a post along the lines of:

        “122 readers voted this a quality posting. Add my vote.”

        The top five quality postings can be linked to from your Latest Stories/Categories/etc column

      2. Martin P says:

        Please don’t go down that route!!!!

        One of the best bits about your blog is coming back to flick through the comments and read the replies you’ve made – mainly because it’s interesting to see which ones catch your eye. If we vote for what we want you to talk about that element is lost.

        If it ain’t broke…… and trust me, this blog is far from broke!

      3. def says:

        Martin P you misunderstand. I agree that it’s interesting to see where James has (and hasn’t) given replies. I wasn’t suggesting his replies be guided by these votes. In my experience it just helps draw readers’ eyes generally to “quality posts” and away from those which are less informed/plain awful. We’re now seeing comments per article running into the hundreds and there are only so many minutes in a lunch break!

  14. Ed says:

    Hopefully they choose Klien before Fisichella, as Christian has stuck by the team as test driver over the last few years.

    He also showed good promise in his Red Bull days (probably more so than Liuzzi), and if he has matured a bit now, I think he could do very well, alongside either Heidfeld, Fisichella or even Kovalainen.

    1. melonfarmer says:

      Klien was pushed into F1 far too early, but had good raw pace on occassions and is good with the tv (recall him saying “absolute” alot in a good interview with Martin Brundle after 5th on the grid in Brazil some years back). Working with Peugeot in a technically free series like Le Mans will have helped too (was Senna’s reason for Oreca drive, I believe).

      As Ed mentions, where does Kovalainen end up in all of this? He’s far too good (although not 100% Hamilton) to end up on the sidelines or in a Renault team treading water. Any clues James?

  15. Nick H says:

    Just a thought….If Sauber are allowed to race using Ferrari engines how about Kimi as a driver for Sauber? Ferrari are paying Kimi not to race for Ferrari why not put him in a Sauber seat?

    1. James Allen says:

      He has said he will only carry on in F1 if he can have a winning car.

      1. ashley edwards says:

        What about Fisichella? they have said that they would let him.

  16. Brace says:

    I hope Frank Williams retires as soon as possible. Seems like he has taken on Mosley’s job of screwing up every sensible deal with his pointless opposing.

    1. Tim L says:

      Agreed he cannot leave soon enough!

  17. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Was Qadbak a figurement of Russell King´s imagination?

    I heard that Bernie has a few private investigators permanently on the payroll who must have checked this out. It´s surprising that BMW were caught out.

  18. manatcna says:

    We’ll know that when and if they turn up in Bahrain

  19. Vittorio says:

    I remember 2005, when Sauber sold the team to BMW and he told that it was “the better option for the future of team”. Now the best thing he had to do was to buy back the team. So, consider how the F1 changed in the last 4 years, that’s terrific :-S

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, when he sold the team the manufacturers were in a spending war. Now teams like Brawn, Williams and Sauber are the blue print of how to structure a team and it is possible for them to make a profit

  20. P.Beenkens says:

    I Think Sauber will be in F1 in 2010 without a doubt.They are a very solid team and now as a costumor Ferrari-team (engine-gearbox)they are in a very good position to do so.Here’s another thought about Michael Schumacher.If he really is thinking about a fuul-time comeback to F1 racing (which is still very unlikely), why not in a Sauber-Ferrari ? This would resolve his contractual ties to Ferrari and Shell.And if Ferrari would do the same as Red-Bull (race with 4 almost indentical cars in two seperate teams) he would be in a strong enough position to race for wins and maybe more…

  21. Rich C says:

    This is another one of those times when we will see if contracts or the “rules” in F1 actually mean anything. If anything they say has any real credibility. If the ‘sport’ has any integrity.

    The ‘rules’ say Sauber is outa luck.
    The ‘contract’ says Toyota agreed to stay.

    I predict we will see an exception made for both on some sort of ‘feel-good’ grounds.

    And it will prove there is *no integrity in F1.

    1. Tim L says:

      …if all goes this way …it also means Sauber will not get on the grid and Renault must pay if they want out

    2. Pat says:

      Sod the rules and sod the contracts – the only thing that matters here is the livelihoods of all the employees at both Sauber & Toyota – if bending or overruling the rules enables them to all to stay in jobs and keep roofs over their families heads – then so be it !

      1. Rich C says:

        Sadly this is not true. F1 is not some government-run jobs program.

        If it were then there are thousands and thousands of unemployed “auto workers” that would be already lined-up for *their bailout.

  22. Rich C says:

    >>The contract is subject to the team being granted a place on the F1 grid<<

    So if they dont get a spot its no deal and the team still belongs to BMW?

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s my understanding

  23. Sidney S says:

    There is a school of thought that it will be Trulli in a Sauber not Fisi…….watch this space.

  24. Anonymous says:

    i think each country has its specific for investment opportunities. cultural customs are also with their own specifics. what you do here is great, thank you for good info.

  25. Glen Piefer says:

    You cannot operate a company by fear, for the reason that strategy to eliminate fear is to avoid criticism. And ways to avoid criticism is to relax.
    Company is in itself a power.

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