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Sauber and Chelsea FC in innovative link-up
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Apr 2012   |  8:52 am GMT  |  40 comments

The Sauber F1 team and Chelsea FC have announced a unique link up between two brands across two sports, designed to increase the reach of both into a new platform and to give added value to sponsors. Also with a shared platform across two of the biggest TV sports in the world, they can offer a joint sponsorship deal to a global brand looking for exposure in both areas. This is something Tony Fernandes has been hoping to achieve by owning both the Caterham and Queens Park Rangers teams.

According to the Sauber statement, “In concrete terms, this (the deal) includes the sale of merchandising articles and exchange of knowledge in the area of sport science. Both partners will support each other by featuring the other partner’s logo and thus benefit from a significant market presence outside their original sport.”

Sauber has been running a crypic logo on the engine cover in recent races saying “Out of the Blue”, teasing that an innovative new deal was about to come on stream. This is not the household name sponsorship deal, putting significant money into Sauber’s warchest, that many had expected. But it does allow Sauber to promote itself on a big stage, not least with Chelsea about to appear in the finals of the FA Cup in England and the European Champions League, the biggest tournament in club football.

It’s a slightly odd mix; the clean cut, low profile Swiss team and Chelsea, which is one of the ‘showier’ clubs. But Chelsea’s Ron Gourlay, who works for team owner Roman Abramovitch, said, “We felt that this Swiss team, the fourth oldest of the existing teams, reflects our own ideals perfectly.”

Abramovitch has flirted with F1 before, without ever buying in. Bernie Ecclestone invited him to quite a few Grands Prix and he was a presence in Monaco for several years with his yacht Pelorus moored just outside the main harbour because it was too big to come inside. At the time there were teams for sale, including BMW Sauber, as it then was, but Abramovitch opted to stick with football.

One of the realities of the comparison between the two sports is that whereas a team like Chelsea, currently 6th in the English permier league, can beat anybody on their day – they beat Barcelona last week to reach the Champions League final – it’s very hard for a team like Sauber to beat the top F1 teams and win a race. They almost did it in Malaysia in wet conditions, but the reality is that they will almost always play at the level they are at. Football offers the chance for a memorable win. QPR have beaten some of the EPL’s top sides this season, despite being close to the bottom of the table.

Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn said, “A partnership like this between Formula One and Football has never existed before in this form, yet there are numerous commonalities and possible synergies. In either case we are talking about team sport at the highest – and international – level. The Sauber F1 Team and Chelsea FC are dealing with many of the same sporting and commercial topics and we want to strengthen each other in these areas. We are looking forward to exploiting these opportunities, and we congratulate Chelsea on making it to the final of the Champions League.”

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  1. olivier says:

    Let’s hope they change their livery (Sauber) to metallic pale whiteblue:

    The color would be in synch with “Sauber”, which means “clean” in German. Like a breath of fresh air.

    And it would be a subtle hint to Chelsea too …

  2. leigh says:

    Why would a glamorous and technically advanced sport such as F1 want to get involved with a sport where the majority of the top players are more interested in fame, self-promotion, and getting hammered in clubs every Saturday night. .

    Football is a sport full of greed, violence, overpaid and underperforming spoilt idiots, who have no appreciation of what they have got, or any interest in giving back.

    This can only be a bad move for F1.

    1. Jack says:

      Really? Either you own a pair of rose-tinted glasses or a big bag of powerful hallucinogens if you think that exactly the same isn’t true of F1.

      F1 is a business whose ONLY objective is raising vast amounts of money for bankers and oil companies. It promotes itself furiously and will even hold events against the advice of Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch – purely because of financial motivation. F1 drivers are paid far more than even the top footballers, and whore themselves around just as much. (to teams i mean)

      Any Premier League footballers convicted of stabbing anyone in the neck recently?

    2. Matthew Yau says:

      You honestly could not be more cynical if you tried.

      But F1 has very little in common with football. In fact, F1 has little in common with every other sport (including other motorsport disciplines).

    3. Kevin Green says:

      And when did football bring world wide direct political attention through political rioting on the same scale as Bahrain???

  3. Kevin Green says:

    I did say something big was on the cards, what this means to me is Roman is dipping his foot in to test the water and all going well he will buy the team, As a Chelsea fan i think this is great!!

  4. Tom in adelaide says:

    I’d be quite happy to see this team grow stronger. I like the way they go about business.

  5. franed says:

    Football is the antithesis of motor racing, I cannot see that any good can possibly come from it.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      I think you will find your very wrong i can see this becoming very common partnership in the future with football being easily the biggest followed sport by many a fold if you sit and think about it hands in hand in a joint venture for example vehicle manufacturers logos on football shirts and boards and the team logos on the cars its a great great advertising package both ways.

      In Romans very unique case he can simply afford to buy and run both ventures even outside the above spoken of concept.

  6. Everard Farkle-Harson says:


  7. mindlore says:

    Don’t they have enough devisive, cromagnon throwbacks following Formula 1 already? I suppose they are good for brand loyalty (read: revenue stabilisation), what with the tribal attitude they bring. Divide and conquer.

  8. CarlH says:

    Great….. I no longer like Sauber.

    1. Ed H says:

      Have to agree with that sentiment. Sauber have done the equivilent of signing a pact with the devil; everyone knows that any comparison between F1 and Football is a waste of time. And from the little I know about football, Chelsea is one of the most hated teams out there in my neck of the woods. (“Anyone but Chelsea” seems to be a common theme doing the rounds.)

      It’s obvious that this Roman Abramovitch guy must have only ever seen the Malaysian GP. This partnership is all about money, but I don’t see what the football team gets out of it, Sauber are unlikely to finish 6th in the constructors anyway; Since Malaysia they have scored a single point with Kobyashi in 2 races.

      At least Williams hasn’t stooped this low…yet.

  9. Gabriel says:

    Very unusual – still not sure what’s in it for either team. Especially for Chelsea – the car doesn’t even have their official logo!

    1. Bradley says:

      Football fans tend to be proudly loyal. With Chelsea linking up with an F1 team, there will be interest in that F1 team from from their fans, and these days there is also worldwide exposure.

      For Chelsea, I’d say it’s all about Asia – a substantial and growing fanbase for F1, and a market the EPL is aggressively expanding into. The European football market is pretty saturated, but a lot of Asia already pays more attention to the EPL than to their local leagues, and English clubs want to tie in fans and market share. F1 gives a glamourous position from which to do that.

  10. gonzeche says:

    +1 on previous comments. The best part though is ‘exchange of knowledge in the area of sport science’. Does this refer to Terry kicking a Barcelona player from behind? Football being a sport so driven by luck and subjectivity, this sounds like a ridiculously empty partnership!

  11. Somersetracer says:

    So, with Peter Sauber previously announcing his wish to retire at the end of this season, is this the start of the new “Chelsea F1 Team”?

  12. Doohan says:

    I’m a bit amazed they’re not using the actual badge.

    1. James Allen says:

      Good point, I thought that too

      1. Rich C says:

        No one outside their current fan base would recognize it.

      2. BF1 says:

        According to Chelsea website, the text is just for the test and the crest will appear from Spanish GP.

        “We can now reveal the official partnership launch will take place at the Spanish Grand Prix next week. From then, the Champions League finalists’ crest will proudly be displayed on the cars of drivers Kamui Kobayashi, of Japan, and Mexico’s Sergio Perez.”


  13. Mon Pen says:

    Personally I fail to see it. There are very few F1 fans I know who have any interest in football and vice versa. In fact the only ones I have come across are the glory hunters who followed Ferrari and Man U in their prime, wasn’t there a flirtation between Manchester United and Ferrari a few years back? Read into that what you will.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      That’s the likely likewise link up i feel unless obv VW come in (as i prev quoted on Williams) and then obv Man U would likely fly the Audi logo alongside the car livery being somewhat Man U related.

    2. Richard D says:

      Although I agree, I do feel it can help create more interest for F1. I’m one of the rare beasts who loves football and F1, and while my friends are just football mad, they do like F1 and I think would show more interest in it if there were more links.

      But Sauber and Chelsea? They seem odd bedfellows to me. Sauber are more West Brom. Red Bull are Chelsea or Man City. Man Utd and Liverpool are Ferrari and Mclaren. And Fernandes has done well because Caterham and QPR are both as awful as each other!

      1. Kevin Green says:

        Are you forgetting Sauber would be a good blend of succesful come historic come cheap??? if it is what I think it is and Roman going into F1 ownership ship I cant think for a better place for him to dip his foot.

  14. Kay says:

    Hope this will help Sauber to attract even more sponsorships and thus more funds for research and development to push them even further up on the championship, on the back of an already very successful year for them this year.

  15. Richard D says:

    Superleague didn’t work!

  16. vvipkho says:

    last year Caterham with QPR joint official partner for both team.

    now sauber with chelsea fc as 2nd team.

    who will be next to do it?

    1. Kevin Green says:

      got to remember on scale of things in any means team for team F1 is small in comparison to top end football teams.

      It should work out as a great advertising springboard for both sports/teams and sponsors especially in the world were in when we google everything we either don’t fully understand or interests us.

      Multi millions of eyes on both sports on there day (top end footy and F1) say an average of £1 profit on average from every pair of eyes in a yr say?? its a lot of money!

  17. Adam says:

    I do not see the point of Chelsea advertising Sauber and vice-versa – no F1 fan is going to start supporting Chelsea just because their name appears on a Sauber. However, perhaps what would be valuable is if they shared their sponsorship – e.g. Sauber have Samsung appear on their car, and Chelsea have one of Sauber’s sponsors (Claro/NEC/Telmex) on their shirts, or the two teams club together for a new shared title sponsor. That would seem much more practical and beneficial to both.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Buy out pending i think you will prob find!

  18. Rich C says:

    It’s certainly thinking outside the box.

  19. Anand R says:

    Hello James,

    Can I have your email ID, I have a request to forward as part of my aspirations.


  20. Daniel MA says:

    Isn´t Sauber the fifth oldest team?

  21. WifeIsVeryShort says:

    Ferrari = Inter Milan
    McLaren = Real Madrid
    Lotus = Juventus
    Mercedes = Bayern Munich
    RBR = Barcelona
    Caterham = QPR
    Williams = Nottingham Forest

    1. Richard D says:

      Toro Rosso = Arsenal
      Sauber = West Brom
      HRT = Salisbury City (My home town team!)

  22. Charalampos says:

    Well it does seem a bit odd marketing wise at least. Without knowing anything further I think that there is a chance this is just the chapter 1 of a new story that will unfold in the next months or years with Chelsea’s owner investing money in the sauber team. Peter always said he would resign from F1 soon. So this could be a window that opens an opportunity of a buyout later on.

  23. Koby Fan says:

    Originally thought the new sponsor might be Panasonic coming back give KOB some support; later was 99% sure it was JetBlue due to Latin American market…but even with the rumors, never thought it would be the EPL team…

    I can see how cross-platform marketing might work in the future..sounds more like sharing knowledge rather than a cash injection – so will this ‘sponsorship’ actually help move Sauber up the grid in the short-term?

    I guess this is probably an entree for a future stake in Sauber for Roman…

  24. RickeeBoy says:

    The most significant thing from this is that Roman is moving from a European Forum ( Chelsea ) to have worldwide exposure which obviously means he has ambitions on the world stage.

    Additionally, it would bring him and his Gazprom Neft Oil Co in contact with Carlos Slim, the worlds richest man and also an oil magnate in Telmex. ( Perhaps the Wests dominance of the Oil Industry is slightly moving. )

    Personally, I think it would be great to have him in F1 circles

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Without a doubt the oil industry has as big if not a bigger place in F1 than even vehicle manufacturers, loads of potential.


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