Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn has clarified reports suggesting the Swiss team has been bought by Russian entities. Having earlier admitted a sale of the team could not be ruled out, the struggling Hinwil based outfit announced on Monday that it has new Russian partners.
The news was reported as Sauber having been 'rescued' by Russia, but Italy's Autosprint quotes Kaltenborn as insisting: "The team has not been sold." And Speed Week reports that Sauber's existing structure, with Kaltenborn and founder Peter Sauber at the decision-making helm, is not changing.
The Swiss portal 20 Minuten, however, said the Russian investment in Sauber amounts to a whopping $170 million, clearing the team's debts and paying unhappy suppliers. "But where is the money coming from?" a correspondent reported in the Aargauer Zeitung newspaper.
Indeed, some reports suggest the entities listed in the Sauber press release are little more than shell organisations, albeit closely linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin. A source is quoted by the Swiss newspaper Blick: "It doesn't matter where the money comes from. What is important is that it comes."
The Russian correspondent for Swiss broadcaster Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, however, is concerned. "This whole story could end up in a dead end," he warned.
Meanwhile, questions are also being asked about Lotus' new co-owners. Owner Genii recently announced that a consortium called Infinity Racing has bought 35 per cent of the Enstone based team. But the Sun newspaper now quotes Genii's Gerard Lopez as saying the deal is actually not finalised, although it is "progressing onwards". (GMM)