Details Scarce About Sauber F1 Team's Trio Of Russian Investors
The announced investment in the Sauber F1 Team by three Russian partners remains wrapped in a mystery as two investors would not provide any specifics regarding their involvement, while collaboration with the third company, the National Institute of Aviation Technologies, is going to be just “a technical partnership,” according to the team. In addition to NIAT, the Russian investors are government-backed investment funds the Investment Cooperation Int'l Fund and the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation. Last month, Sauber issued a statement saying that the collaboration with Russian partners “is progressing well” and that “initial payments to the team have already been made, as per contract.” However, Sauber would not provide any specifics as to what company provided the “initial payments” and what the size of it was in response to a request from SBD Global. Similarly, the F1 team gave only vague responses to a request to clarify the nature of “a purely technical partnership” with NIAT, also mentioned in the statement. Sauber spokesperson Hanspeter Brack said, “Together we have identified many areas where we can cooperate for the benefit of both sides. We are now looking into this, and we will communicate details in due course.”
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT: Incidentally, NIAT’s head, Oleg Sirotkin, is the father of aspiring F1 driver Sergei Sirotkin, a promising young Russian driver recently signed by Sauber for next season. When contacted, Sirotkin Sr. refused to comment. The two investment funds did not respond to SBD Global’s requests for comment. Both investment funds are known for work on projects bankrolled by the Russian government. However, Russia’s sports ministry has repeatedly said it had no intention of pumping state cash into F1, which should be funded by the private sector. Russia’s inaugural F1 race is scheduled to be held next year in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, which also hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.