Scuderia Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger has played down suggestions that his team may be pursuing buy-out options in the Middle East, despite the knowledge that Dietrich Mateschitz is looking to offload his secondary Formula One operation.

Apparently spotted in the Gulf region between races, Berger denied that he was there to talk to potential buyers for Toro Rosso, despite the Middle East emerging as a hotbed of interest for Formula One. The now defunct Super Aguri team had been linked to a buy-in by Dubai International Capital, via the Magma Group, only to be let down - and ultimately go out of business, when the investor had second thoughts. McLaren, Ferrari and the former Spyker team have all carried prominent sponsorship from organisations in the region, which will add a race in Abu Dhabi to the existing one in Bahrain next season.

"Honestly, we are not talking with anybody at the moment, [and] I don't know the people from Dubai," Berger stressed on the opening day of the Monaco GP, explaining that, while there is no closure on the 'customer car' debate, STR's future remains up in the air.

"Obviously, we are still waiting to see how the situation is in the future with developing the customer car or no customer car," he confirmed, "I don't think it's totally clear yet how it's going to be.

"But, as Mr Mateschitz says, if customer cars are not going to be allowed - as it looks [right now] - then he will not be prepared to develop a second team in the same way as he's doing in England. Then, I think maybe he's going to sell the shares, but I still think it's a little bit unclear and, for this reason, we're not having any discussions. We're not in contact with anybody at this moment."

The mention of shares prompted one journalist to suggest that the team may consider a flotation - something Berger dismissed.

"The problem is not who is owning which shares, the problem is how you finance the running budget and the development of a year," he said, "We are facing enormous budgets, development costs, and it's quite difficult to re-finance a private team, getting everything from the market.

"The yearly budget that you need for developing the car, to run all the resources, that's what you need to save and that's what you need to fix. Obviously, with a big manufacturer, with all the resources, it's quite easy - or it's easier - but, as a private team, it's one thing to get the resources, to buy the resources - but to run it is even more difficult."

 

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