The beleaguered Sauber team appears to have secured its immediate F1 future with the announcement of a new partnership with a group of Russian investors.
As confirmed by Peter Sauber over the weekend [see separate story
], the Swiss team has been talking to potential Russian saviours over the past few weeks, but those named in Monday's confirmation are not necessarily the same as carried by the F1 rumour mill.
Instead, the Investment Cooperation International Fund, the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies will partner with Sauber to 'jointly develop high-technological solutions', as well as promote F1 in Russia, where the world championship is finally due to make its debut next season.
The official announcement claims that 'this extensive co-operation will showcase Russian innovation at the pinnacle of motorsport. At the same time, the Sauber F1 Team will have a solid foundation to increase its competitiveness on a long-term basis'.
Full details of the co-operation between the four parties will be 'communicated at a later time', according to the team, leaving the question of whether the partnership brings financial as well as technical rewards to Hinwil, but the initial communiqué confirms that the National Institute of Aviation Technologies, one of the leading scientific research institutions in Russia, will bring 'advanced know-how from front-end Russian scientists and engineers' with the objective of opening up new perspectives and revenue streams by commercialising jointly-developed technologies'.
Meanwhile, the Investment Cooperation International Fund (ICIF), established with the support of the administration of the President, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Regional Development of the Russian Federation, 'contributes to the development of specific technology programmes and technical upgrades of the industry'.
The State Fund of Development of the North-West is a not-for-profit organisation established to finance programmes, projects and activities supporting the economic, scientific and cultural heritage of the North-West region of the Russian Federation.
Whatever else it achieves, the partnership hopes to bring a benefit for Russian talent behind the wheel, with confirmation of a development programme for the up-and-coming Sergey Sirotkin, who currently competes for ISR in the top tier of the Renault World Series. The announcement claims that the programme will 'prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014', potentially spelling the end of the road for either Nico Hulkenberg or Esteban Gutierrez.