14 August 2013
Sauber denies cracks in Russian rescue
Stories claiming problems in Sauber's relationship with its new Russian partners have been dismissed as 'false reports and rumours' by the Swiss team.
Sauber has moved to deny recent rumours suggesting that its agreement with a consortium of Russian saviours was on the rocks, claiming that all is proceeding as planned.
Various German outlets had reported that the deal was on the verge of collapse, potentially placing Sauber in a perilous position ahead of F1's resumption at Spa-Francorchamps next weekend. The team, however, insists that there is no basis to the rumours, which also suggested that doubts over Sergey Sirotkin's superlicence eligibility and even the job security of the 17-year old's father were poised to scupper the rescue bid.
The stories suggested that the Hinwil operation had yet to see any financial benefit from what is allegedly a €400m bail-out, but a statement issued by Sauber confirms that the first of several expected payments has been received, allowing it to begin addressing a list of creditors that includes engine partner Ferrari, tyre supplier Pirelli and various drivers, including both current pilots.
"We are astounded at the heedlessness with which some media are prepared to spread false reports and rumours," the statement claimed, "The collaboration with Russian partners, as announced by us, is progressing well. The contract with Sergey Sirotkin is in place. Preparations for his involvement in the team will start next week following the end of the customary holiday period in the sector."
Suggestions that the board of the National Institute of Aviation and Technology had voted against a financial rescue package were also corrected by the statement, with Sauber pointing out that there had never been a monetary aspect to its agreement with the state-owned operation.
"initial payments to the team have already been made, as per contract, [but] a financial involvement on the part of NIAT was never mooted. The plan envisaged a purely technical partnership."
It was almost a month ago that Sauber revealed that the Investment Cooperation International Fund, the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies would join forces 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 claimed at the time 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 was always due to be 'communicated at a later time', although plans to fast-track World Series by Renault midfielder Sirotkin into the top flight were confirmed at the time of the announcement, raising concerns over the future of current pilots Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.
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