Scuderia Toro Rosso is rumoured to have sold a stake in the team to Abu Dhabi-based financial operation Aabar Investments, which could lead to a potential tie-up with Mercedes thanks to the company's existing F1 interests.
Respected F1 journalist Joe Saward reports that last week's announcement that Falcon Private Bank had joined Toro Rosso as a sponsor could be the first step in greater involvement from Aabar, which owns the Swiss-based company. Aabar, which is run by the Abu Dhabi government, has been a prominent backer of the Mercedes GP team since it emerged from the title-winning Brawn operation, and already owns nine per cent of parent company Daimler AG in addition to its F1 involvement. Because of this link, it is being speculated that ongoing Aabar interest in Toro Rosso could lead to a potential Mercedes engine deal, or closer ties between STR and the Three Pointed Star in a way similar to that enjoyed by Force India at present.
Saward speculates that Aabar's investment in STR is 'simply strategic' and would not result in any changes to the team's management set-up, but could help to bring additional support to the Faenza outfit. The Abu Dhabi government controls the company through another government-controlled investment business, International Petroleum Investment Company, which recently acquired Spanish oil company CEPSA from Total, in a deal worth $5bn. With Spanish youngster Jaime Alguersuari already on board at Toro Rosso, it has been suggested that CEPSA branding could appear on the STR6 in the near future.
Aabar also owns shares in Santander Brazil, amongst others, while IPIC has interests in various petrochemical brands, including OMV Oils, Borealis, Cosmo Oil, Ferrostaal and Nova Chemicals.
Toro Rosso has yet to issue any formal confirmation of Aabar's involvement.