Sauber’s Financial Woes Revealed

Earlier in the week, I reported Sauber’s current economic struggle. While the details regarding their financial issues were unclear, the full scale of Sauber’s debt has now been revealed and it is far from pleasant reading for Sauber faithful. With the team requiring an estimated figure of £26.8 million in order to complete this season alone, they are in dire need of major investment. Money which Bernie Ecclestone will not supply, after the F1 Supremo declared that he will not bail out the Swiss team.
Undoubtedly, the team’s struggles on track will not have aided their pitch to potential investors. With just seven points on the board, Sauber have slipped down the Formula One pecking order despite a 2012 campaign where they significantly exceeded all expectations.
Meanwhile off-track, the team may not have been able to develop the C32 as intended, perhaps due to insufficient funding. Reports suggest that twelve of the team’s suppliers are waiting for payment from Sauber who are clocking up extortionate levels of debt. The team’s founder Peter Sauber said; “We are very much in contact with our suppliers, and make every effort to get out of this situation as quickly as possible.” In light of the predicament, Peter did not deny the possibility of the wholesale buyout of the team. In 2005, Sauber faced similar issues and consequently sold the team to BMW. It was not until BMW withdrew from Formula One before the 2010 season, that Peter Sauber once again took control of the team.
In addition to this possibility, individual investors have been rumoured to have shown interest. Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich has been linked with Sauber. This would be a sensible route for them, considering that they currently have ties with Chelsea in terms of marketing. Meanwhile, the Rottenburg brother’s who own SMP bank have also declared interest, as well as Russian energy giant GAZPROM. However, no formal offers have been made as of yet which will inevitably be a concern to everyone involved with the team.
While Bernie Ecclestone will not lend the team a helping hand should no external investment occur, he hopes Sauber will sort out their current issues swiftly and effectively. “We have agreements that require us to treat all the teams equally, so I cannot invest myself. They’re a good team and I’m sure there is more than one possible buyer. I don’t want to imagine F1 without Sauber. Ideally, they will find new sponsors in the long term. Even companies who are willing to support them in the short term would be fine. The team deserves to be helped.”
Hopefully, reports suggesting that Sauber may not be in a position to complete this season are false. Following the liquidation of HRT at the end of last season, loosing another team to economic downturn would be a harsh result for the sport in general. With even greater expense anticipated in 2014 as a result of the updated engine regulations, many more teams may be entering financial deficits in the near future. The FIA and FOM need to discuss the current costs and funding within the sport to prevent these predicaments.      


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