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Sauber back on the F1 grid as FIA offers him Toyota’s slot
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Sauber back on the F1 grid as FIA offers him Toyota’s slot
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Dec 2009   |  11:31 pm GMT  |  24 comments

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.

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24 Comments
  1. Rhys says:

    “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.”

    Why are they being called BMW Sauber…havent BMW left?

    1. MatStace says:

      I had the same thought earlier, but I wonder if it’s because it was BMW Sauber who applied for the place earlier this year, and also because a condition of Peter Sauber buying back the team was the 2010 entry, until this was granted, he probably had not/has not yet bought the team.

  2. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    This is great news and clearly the right thing to do by the FIA. Lots of justice served to good people and class acts.

    I’ll put money on a Heidfeld-Fisi pairing. Ferrari wants Fisi to be race fit, and Heidfeld isn’t going to wait forever for Merc to make its choice. (Not to mention that he’ll likely be turned off if Merc’s top choice is yet another teammate who he’s beaten, i.e. Kubica.)

    1. Stevie P says:

      I don’t think we’ll see Fisi on the grid again.

      I feel we may see young Bianchi (sic) at Sauber, as they’ll have Ferrari engines in the back of them (according to Mr Sauber) and it’d be a good way for him to get experience of F1, as well as perhaps softening the financial side of buying Ferrari engines.

      1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        Bianchi needs a year in GP2. LdM has already said they want Fisi to race next year.

  3. kristian says:

    An elegant conclusion to Toyota and BMW withdrawing from the sport. The late silly season this year is a partial replacement for winter testing.

    If I was Toyota, I would be relieved that this was the outcome of what could have been an expensive decision. If I was BMW I would start filling up my karma bucket because they just spent it all in the past few months. Welcome back Mr. Sauber.

  4. George says:

    Well this makes it less likely for Heidfeld to go to Mercedes I guess, he’s been pretty loyal to Sauber over the years. Hell, even Kubica could end up back there if Mercedes already have their eye on someone.

  5. Scott says:

    So is this “successful” exit for Toyota perhaps what has prompted the possible Renault exit? Were they perhaps not waiting to see whether or not Toyota would be fined, or were able to reassign their slot?

  6. GP says:

    Finally some great news!

  7. Charles says:

    James, considering that Heidfeld has a pretty solid history with Sauber, do you think the possibility of signing there could give him some leverage in negotiations with Mercedes? Or is that dream gone?

  8. Graham says:

    Fantastic.

    It’s nice to see F1 regaining some class in Peter Sauber. I wonder what state the cars will be in for next year, has work taken place over the past month while all this negotiating has been taking place, or will they be working from a weakened position?

    It would be nice to see the mark back up in the top four or five teams with a couple of competitive drivers.

  9. Rich C says:

    Just as I predicted: a “feel-good” solution. It proves a contract is not a contract, rules are not really, and a deal not a deal in F1.

    Now, all you guys that think F1 is some sort of jobs program, lets hear it for all those Toyota ppl that are suddenly out of work.

    1. Tom - Australia says:

      We all run the risk of losing our jobs. Nothing is 100% secure in life. F1 is no different.

      I’m sure the Toyota staff were well remunerated during their time with the team.

  10. DK says:

    This is good news, another “win-win” added to your list, James.

  11. James, Hi there. Great to see Saubar back in again. Anyway, haven’t heard much about the Saubar drivers’ line up. Even though there are quite alot of drivers free in the marker, plus the young test drivers this week comes into account as well, in reality who really are their best options? Heidfield wasn’t a certainty even before BMW pulled out of the sport. And the other question was about the team principal role. After Dr. Mario decided not to continue with the new team is there any other known name that is given the role? Saubar must have got some idea about the drivers at least being that the drivers should be working with the engineer asap to develop the net year’s car.

  12. Jon Wilde says:

    So Sauber are back running cars 26 & 27 next year with Ferrari engines any chance we might see Villenuve in the car? or am I dreaming??

    With Alonso’s recent luck with team’s he drives for being caught cheating will Ferrari be making preparations to revert to their traditional numbers for 2011?!!

  13. John F says:

    James, slightly off topic.

    But are you not regretting that you had to stop writing on your new book to get it published now? There is so much off track action this year, which is missing from it.
    Of course no one could have predicted that the “silly” season this year is even more sillier than usual.

    There is almost enough off-track action to fill a sequel to the book. BTW, I really enjoyed reading it, but I have to take your word for it that it was really signed by you. I still trying to “match” the signature to any parts of your name ;-)

  14. Adrian says:

    Good news for F1, though not so much for the Toyota employees. Hopefully some of them will be able to find work elsewhere within Toyota – I would imagine their high skill set would make them valuable employees.

    Now all we need to find out is what’s happening with Renault and we’ll have our grid for next year…

    …then we’ll hopefully find out fairly soon which drivers will be filling it ;-)

    1. James Allen says:

      Apparently they are laying off 500 people, according to DPA agency in Germany. Leaving 150 people working at the base on motor sport projects

  15. Sidney S says:

    Heidfield to Mercedes
    Trulli to Sauber

    1. Tom - Australia says:

      How dull.

      1. Sidney S says:

        yeh, but the quickest Sauber will get

  16. The Limit says:

    This is great news. Its probably the best news F1 has had all year, and proves that this sport can exist without the major manufacturers. Obviously Jean Todt, newly elected FIA president, has played a big part in helping Peter Sauber get back into the fray and that is a good thing.
    Whether this will be enough to convince Renault to stay is still unclear, but it does prove that not all is lost if they do decide to leave. The bottom line is that Formula One is still the most watched global sport after football, a big attraction for any entrepreneur.

  17. john g says:

    so given that BMW sauber are the entity given the place on teh grid, does that mean that mr sauber is entitled to the (little bit of) prize money from this year? great news for him and the team anyway. klien and a good ferrari back-up (bianchi etc) would be a fairly good pairing, assuming heidfeld doesn’t go to mercedes brawn.

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