Three Russian Investors Rescue Financially Stricken Sauber F1 Team
Russian investors "have rescued the financially-stricken Sauber team with a multi-million pound deal that could also put a Russian driver in a Formula One seat next season," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Sauber announced on Monday morning that three institutions "have joined as investors: the Investment Cooperation International Fund, the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies." The gloss on the press release was that the deal "will allow a technological partnership, as well as an opportunity to raise the profile of the Russian Grand Prix, scheduled for next year." Team Founder Peter Sauber needed an estimated £1M ($1.5M) immediately "to pay suppliers becoming increasingly restless about Sauber’s debts" while a £20M ($30M) black hole "was also looming in this year’s budget." No financial details have been given, "but it has to be assumed the new Russian backers have stumped up enough to put Sauber back on an even keel and ready to fight out the rest of the season" (LONDON TIMES, 7/15). Sauber said in a statement that the deal gives the team "a solid foundation to increase its competitiveness on a long-term basis" (London DAILY MAIL, 7/15).
UP AND COMING: REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported Russian teenager Sergey Sirotkin "could become Formula One's youngest ever driver next season as part of a financial lifeline keeping the Swiss Sauber team in the sport." Sauber said in a statement that a development program would be set up for Sirotkin "to prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014." If that plan comes to fruition -- and it depends on the granting of a super-license and him being deemed ready to take the step -- Sirotkin "would be far younger than Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari was when he made his race debut in 2009 aged 19 years and 125 days." The teenager, who turns 18 in August, "is currently competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series" (REUTERS, 7/15). In London, Tom Cary reported the inclusion in the deal of the St. Petersburg-based State Fund of Development of Northwest Russian Federation "has led to speculation that Sochi, a Black Sea resort and the host of next year’s Winter Olympics, may not end up being the venue for the Russian GP in the long term" (TELEGRAPH, 7/15).