Eponymous F1 team owner Peter Sauber is optimistic that the beleaguered Swiss squad can shake off its current financial straitjacket and ensure that it remains a part of the grand prix grid 'for many years'.
Sauber hit the headlines ahead of the British Grand Prix, when it was revealed that lead driver Nico Hulkenberg had not been paid for several weeks, and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn subsequently confirmed that the team was struggling on the budget front [ see separate story
], although, like her boss, she remained confident that the team would eventually pull out of the slump.
The optimism expressed by both Kaltenborn and Sauber stems from ongoing talks with potential saviours and, despite F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone ruling himself out of the role, connections within Russia appear the most promising lead in the search for a potential investor [ see separate story
While Sauber confirmed that he had been making trips to Russia in order to carry on negotiations, he remained coy on the identity of the prospective 'white knight', which reports during the German Grand Prix weekend named as SMP Bank founder Boris Rotenberg.
"I do not want to give an opinion on that,” the F1 veteran told Swiss newspaper Blick
at the weekend, “[But] it is clear, that we simply need a big, strong partner.
"The situation is serious. It is one of the most difficult situations since I've been in motorsport. For many, we've been a very good and a very reliable partner for years. Obviously, I'm sorry for any supplier who has had to wait for his money, [but] I am only concerned about the future of the team and the preservation of jobs in Hinwil. We have not had to lay anyone off yet and have paid wages on time."
Emerging from a successful sports prototype team, famed for running the works Mercedes entries at Le Mans in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Sauber entered F1 in 1993. Aside from a brief dalliance with BMW, which bought the Hinwil operation and engaged its founder to run it from 2006-09, the squad has regularly been among the strongest 'privateer' squads in the top flight. Ironically, its financial plight now coincides with one of the team's weakest seasons for some time, but Sauber remains convinced that his name will continue in F1 beyond the end of 2013.
"We will not only see out this season to the end, but we will still be in F1 for many years," he insisted, "The negotiations which we have been involved in are close to reaching a conclusion. I'm convinced that we will succeed in getting a rescue."