So Alfa Romeo, who ran under the Sauber banner, is out and the far more convoluted ‘Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber’ is in. Rolls right off the tongue, that.
We shouldn’t be too surprised though as this is not the first time Sauber have got themselves involved in a rather unusual team name announcement.
You don’t have to go too far back for the last occasion – with their entry for the 2010 season coming under a wave for bizarre circumstances.
Hero to zero for BMW
It begins in the summer of 2009 when BMW, as BMW-Sauber, announced a shock decision to pull out of F1 at the end of the season. It came against a backdrop of the team having been flying high in 2008 but opting against backing Robert Kubica in a championship bid to focus on developing the 2009 car for a season that would bring a raft of new rules and regulations.
Double touch to the head and point away, playing the long game.
Hoping to have gained a headstart, they instead fell through the pack and threw the toys out of their V8 powered prams, blaming the global financial crisis at the time for their reason to quit.
This left the future of the Sauber team in turmoil, with no financial backing lined up to carry them into the 2010 campaign.
Worse, even if they could get a car, funds and sponsors together, a 26-car grid had already been confirmed with Lotus taking their slot as one of three new teams that would start the 2010 season.
In September, BMW-Sauber team principal Mario Theisen confirmed that should they get a spot on the grid, the team had Ferrari engines lined up and ready to use – having previously used the power units under the badged name of Petronas before the BMW buyout in 2006. But by now, their hopes relied on other teams allowing them on the grid, or a rival dropping out.
The latter is exactly what they got. A rival offered a lifeline – albeit indirectly. Toyota revealed an arguably bigger shock after the 2009 season when they too pulled the plug on their F1 project despite having a car already designed and partially built for 2010. It brought to an end a disastrous project that had seen billions of pounds put in without ever grabbing a race win following their 2002 debut.
Although financial backing from Qadbak investments to take over Sauber fell through (a bullet dodged given how their future played out) Peter Sauber came back from an advisory role to take full control of the team and save them at the last moment, with the FIA confirming they would take the now departed Toyota’s entry for the following season.
The birth of BMW Sauber-Ferrari
The FIA’s statement was a curious one though, with one line reading: "The FIA has written to inform BMW Sauber AG that their application for an entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One world championship has been successful."
The team were still called BMW-Sauber despite not a single piece of BMW being on the car. The decision was made during the summer to carry on beyond the season as BMW-Sauber to ensure the team inherited its sixth place finish in the constructors’ championship and bank the prize money from it as well as preserve their interest in other commercial deals.
Sauber said: "It's very simple. We enrolled last summer with that (BMW) name for the 2010 season, and it is still our name.”
"We have not yet made an application to change it, and the timing of that is still open”.
However, with Ferrari engines now lined up and also featuring in the team name given that Petronas by now had thrown their hand in with Mercedes, it led to the birth of the rather confusing ‘BMW Sauber-Ferrari’. It was a mash-up that could have only otherwise occured in an F1 world as crazy as F1 Manager.
At the first opportunity, Sauber applied for a name change and after one season, the BMW name was finally removed in time for the 2011 campaign where it would run as Sauber-Ferrari.
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