Switzerland’s sole Formula 1 team will continue racing after founder Peter Sauber and his partner agreed to sell their shares to the investment group Longbow Finance. The takeover ensures Sauber will race for a 25th year.
Peter Sauber, 72, started his eponymous F1 team in 1993, having built racing cars under is own name since 1970. It has always been based in Hinwil, canton Zurich, where Sauber also built an innovative wind tunnel to test the aerodynamics of racing cars.
In 2005 he sold the keys of his stable to BMW and then bought it back four years later. But the team has struggled financially in recently years after the withdrawal of key sponsors. On Wednesday it was announced that Sauber had sold his two thirds stake in his team to Longbow.
Austrian national Monisha Kaltenborn sold her one third share to the investment company but retains her position as chief executive.
“I am very happy that the goal of my bold investment six years ago – to retain the Hinwil location and a Formula 1 starting position – has ultimately been proved correct,” Peter Sauber said in a statement.
“As a Swiss company we are very pleased to secure the future of a Swiss firm in such a highly specialised and innovative industry,” stated Longbow chairman and chief executive Pascal Picci.
In an interview with swissinfo.ch in 2005, just before he sold to BMW, Sauber reflected on the journey that had taken him from his parent’s cellar designing his first car to the glamour of F1.
“When I started it seemed like Mission Impossible. It was an interesting and thrilling challenge and I like to push myself to the limit,” he said 11 years ago. But despite his personal attachment to his team, he also said that there was “no space for romance in the business world”.
On the track, the Sauber team has seen little joy in recent years, currently lying bottom of the constructor’s championship this season with a best placed finish of 12th. The team has enjoyed only one F1 win in its history, in Canada in 2008.
swissinfo.ch with agencies