When BMW announced to the world they would be withdrawing from Formula One at the end of 2009, the Swiss-German squad had the option to either find a buyer for the team or close down the operation. The FIA apparently gave the motoring manufacturer a week to to sign the new Concorde Agreement, which meant a week to find a new buyer. FOTA stated they would do all they could, and even former owner Peter Sauber tried his best, but ultimately, the Agreement was not signed.
Mario Theissen stated there simply wasn’t enough time for a complex deal to be put together, although it is known that Peter Sauber – the man who started the team sixteen years ago – was involved in trying to save the squad.
Since the announcement on 29 July of our strategic realignment, we have done everything in our power to reach a rapid agreement on the sale of the team based at Hinwil.
Regrettably, despite every effort, this has proved unsuccessful. The tight timeframe we faced simply did not allow us and the interested parties and investors enough time to find a solution for such a complex transaction. This means the team cannot sign the Concorde Agreement at present. Mario Theissen.
When Peter Sauber sold his team to BMW in 2005, he retained a 20% stake and was often seen in the paddock and grands prix, complete with BMW uniform and ear defenders. Although his trademark cigar hasn’t been seen since smoking was banned from the paddock and pitlane areas. However, Peter kept an interest in the squad and when it was put in jeopardy, the Swiss entrepreneur attempted to purchase back his old team. Needless to say, it hasn’t happened yet.
Sauber blames BMW for asking for too much money, and he called the collapse of the deal he was working on as the “bitterest” in his 40-year motorsport career. Had Sauber been able to complete the deal, he could have signed the Concorde Agreement and the team would have been entitled to its share of the sport’s revenue for the next three years. This would have helped to ensure the survival of the company Sauber worked for so long on and with much dedication.
Following the announcement by BMW that it will be pulling out of Formula One at the end of the 2009 season, I tried to launch a takeover and rescue of the team. However, the negotiations with BMW have failed because the demands were simply far too high for me. Consequently, I have been unable to sign the Concorde Agreement, which guarantees payments worth millions and would have secured the future of the team.
I am incredibly disappointed and disconsolate. For me this is the bitterest day in my 40-year career in motor sport. It is also a devastating setback for the team. Peter Sauber.
With the failure of BMW to sign the Concorde Agreement, the FIA have once again re-opened the application process for the final spot on the 2010 grid. At a time when the association is under fire for its possible insistence that new teams are to use Cosworth engines, the FIA have written to the reserve seven – those teams that did not gain entry last time around – and invited them to reapply. It is understood that BMW were also invited to submit an entry, albeit alongside all others.
Peter Sauber is apparently still trying to save his old team, the outfit dating back to 1993 when Peter moved from sports cars to Formula One, but any application would now be reviewed along with all others.
Image © BMW AG.