BMW has just announced that it has sold its Formula 1 team back to Peter Sauber, from whom it originally purchased the squad half a decade ago. The contract, however, remains subject to the team being granted a starting place on the 2010 F1 grid, a factor which is still in some debate as the legal position of Toyota following its withdrawal from the sport remains in question.
Dr Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG with responsibility for Development, stated this morning: “We are very happy with this solution. This fulfils the most important requirement for a successful future for the team. Our relationship with Peter Sauber has always been excellent and marked by absolute respect. We would like to express our thanks to Peter Sauber and the whole team for the excellent cooperation during the recent four years.”
Peter Sauber himself was clearly delighted to have resolved the situation, with BMW’s original plan to sell to the Qadbak outfit having experienced a number of hurdles.
“I am very relieved that we have found this solution,” he said. “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. Our staff here are highly competent and motivated, and I look forward to taking on this new challenge together with them. I would like to thank BMW for four shared years that have in the main been very successful.”
The BMW statement this morning also confirmed that an agreement had been reached which would see personnel cuts from the current level of 388 to around 250 employees, in line with future FIA frameworks.
The announcement draws to a close the links with Qadbak and Russell King, and there will be many in the sport breathing a large sigh of relief. Qadbak had been in the media spotlight in 2009 as its purchase of the Notts County Football Club in England had caused much controversy. The group, however, was judged by the Football League to be “fit and proper” as owners of the club, despite alleged financial irregularities.
Qadbak’s plans to takeover the BMW F1 team however hit the rocks when it became clear the group did not have the funds to complete the purchase, and did not have a bank guarantee. Bahrain Capital International, whom it was understood to be the guarantor, turned out to be a shell company of Russel King with no assets.
It remains unclear where Sauber has found the funds to secure the purchase of his old team back from BMW, with rumours linking an unnamed US investor with the buyout. Sauber was initially known to have been trying to convince Malaysian oil partner Petronas to help him purchase the team, when BMW first made their plans to withdraw from F1 public, although with Lotus’ entry being backed by the Malaysian government, it seems likely that Petronas will end up as a backer for the Norfolk-based team.