Speculation mounts over future of embattled Sauber team
6 July, 2013
Having confirmed its financial problems in the week leading to the German Grand Prix weekend, speculation about the future, or lack thereof, surrounding Sauber is now doing the rounds in the Nurburgring paddock.
Amid reports that he has not been paid recently, German driver Nico Hulkenberg insists the Swiss team’s boss Monisha Kaltenborn is “working on a solution”.
“She’s assured me that she’s busy working on that and there’s not much more I can say,” he said on Thursday.
Indeed, Kaltenborn was missing from the Nurburgring paddock on Friday, with Speed Week reporting that she hosted a delegation at Hinwil of the Swiss federal government.
Sports minister Ueli Maurer said: “Sauber is the most important high-tech company in Switzerland.”
But Speed Week said the that the Swiss government is not going to bail-out the struggling Sauber.
Cue next rumour – Nicolas Todt.
Speed Week said the relationship between team founder Peter Sauber and Todt’s father, the FIA president Jean Todt, is longstanding and strong.
Frenchman Nicolas Todt, who manages the careers of Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi and operates the GP2 team ART, is often linked with Formula 1 team buyouts.
Sauber is reportedly in talks with the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom about a sponsorship deal, and Speed Week said that it is “unclear” if the Todt rumour is related.
The well connected Swiss newspaper Blick, meanwhile, is reporting another potential Russian link for Sauber – the apparent interest of the team’s football club sponsor Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.
Correspondent Roger Benoit said that at least some income is guaranteed to flow Sauber’s way, having inked a deal for the upcoming Silverstone test with Japanese driver Kimiya Sato.
Benoit said the sponsors of 23-year-old Sato, who is not related to former Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato, are paying € 250,000 for his single-day run in the C32 car. (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.