BMW has sold its stake in the BMW Sauber F1 team to a Swiss company which represents wealthy families from Europe and the Middle East. Judging from the wording, the group has bought the whole team, including Peter Sauber’s stake.
Earlier today it was announced that the team’s slot on the grid had been taken by the Malaysian backed Lotus concern. Because BMW didn’t sign the Concorde Agreement along with the other teams, it lost its rights to TV and prize money and is valuable spot on the grid. I can’t help but feel that it played a bad hand by not signing the agreement at the time. It made the asset less valuable and has put them on the outside.
The FIA said this morning that the BMW Sauber team put a strong proposal in, but that it judged the Lotus proposal to be better. The FIA is reviewing the possibility of having a 14th team, whereby the BMW Sauber team would get a place if another team dropped out.
Although FOTA said at the time BMW Sauber was left on the dock, when the Concorde Agreement ship sailed away, that it would do what ever it could to help the team get back to the grid, it will be interesting to see whether there is a place for the team.
It remains to be seen whether all the existing teams plus all four of the new teams will actually make it. All eyes are on Renault at the moment, to see what effect the current scandal over Singapore may have on their desire to continue. Today’s Times has coverage of Renault’s audio tapes and telemetry from the event. It also suggests that Pat Symonds has been offered immunity from prosecution if he drops Flavio Briatore in it. Sources in France suggest that he may not see out the week as team principal.
The BMW statement said, “BMW AG, based in Munich, Germany, is pleased to announce today that Qadbak Investments Ltd, a Swiss-based foundation which represents the interests of certain Middle East and European based families, has agreed to purchase the BMW Sauber F1 Team, based in Hinwil, Switzerland. The contract was signed today (Tuesday). A strong investor has therefore been found for the Hinwil-based team. Qadbak’s interest in the team will be represented by Lionel Fischer, a Swiss national.”
There is a lot going on in F1 at the moment, lots of jostling for position, equity stakes being bought in teams and general movement. The landscape is changing pretty quickly, even for established teams like McLaren, whose long term relationship with Mercedes is open to question after the German manufacturer appears to have bought a controlling interest in Brawn.