News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Sauber Takeover?

Found this story on via the Formula 1 blog. A German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, claims that BMW and Sauber are discussing not just a supply of engines for next year but the takeover of Sauber team entire.

This seemingly, flies in the face of Peter Sauber's proclamation that Sauber is not for sale. Sauber was responding to a hint by Max Mosley that another independent team might be up for grabs. If the story in Welt am Sonntag is true then the reprecussions are huge.

Among other things, where would this place Williams? If I'm not mistaken they have just signed a new contract with BMW last year for continued supply of powerplants. Also, its been known for some time now that Frank is "fattening up" the team for BMWs expected takeover of the team, should Frank and Patrick decide go to greener pastures. One must also remember the close relationship between these two parties. BMW gives more than just power units, it lends a wealth of resources to Grove. Williams' gearboxes for instance are made in a BMW foundry.

Having said that, Sauber too have been doing some weight gaining of their own, adding among other things state of the art supercomputing facilites and wind tunnels. And as people have pointed out, Williams have thus far disappointed BMW. This year is meant to be a make or break. As things stand and by Mark Webber's admission here and here, Williams have not a stonking chassis to go with that magnificent BMW engine.

Asides Williams, how would this affect Petronas` role in Sauber? Petronas have stationed a number of engineers under their employ to Hinwil. Would BMW terminate this working relationship? Would Petronas continue their affiliation with Sauber, post BMW? I've already speculated before that I think BMW would want their own names on the engines, not the name of a sponsor.

But all in all, given the costs already sunk by BMW into Williams, its hard to imagine them simply abandoning the Grove based team and concentrating all their efforts on a new team. However, stranger things have happened.

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