Toyota’s adventure in F1 is now well and truly over as the FIA today granted Peter Sauber the 13th slot on the grid – unlucky for some.
A statement issued by the FIA this evening said, “The FIA has written to inform BMW Sauber AG that their application for an entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship has been successful.”
“Subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement, BMW Sauber will be awarded the 13th entry in the Championship, taking the place of the departing Toyota team.
“The FIA has worked closely with the Commercial Rights Holder and the teams involved over recent weeks and is grateful for their support in achieving the best outcome for the sport.”
The entry was in some doubt when mysterious Arab/Swiss financier Qadbak was in the frame to take over as there was significant suspicion all around about the investment company, despite BMW having done due diligence on them.
But last week BMW withdrew from that deal and Peter Sauber bought back his old team and this led to the FIA brokering a deal whereby Toyota drops its claim on the 13th grid slot and all attempts to lease the factory and facilities to a new outfit. Presumably in return it is allowed to exit its obligations under the Concorde Agreement without financial penalty.
Perhaps all the talk of Stefan GP taking over the team was a bargaining chip in this protracted negotiation.
It is the right decision for the sport as Sauber has an unblemished track record stretching back to 1993. His is a reliable team which will make up the numbers on the grid. It also offers drivers
two more competitive drives in established teams along with the one at Brawn, one at Renault and one at Toro Rosso.
It will be interesting to see whether Sauber maintains its long relationship with Malaysian oil company Petronas, a key sponsor for many years, now that Malaysia has its own F1 team with state backing; Lotus. Perhaps they will both end up with some Petronas backing to start with.
A deal has already been agreed with Ferrari for a supply of engines. I would not be at all surprised to see the new Ferrari junior team driver Jules Bianchi taking a seat there in 2011 after a season in GP2.