Peter Sauber is a remarkable guy, blending sincerity and geniality in a nicely formal package. Back in 1994, his F1 team’s second season in the sport, I was always struck that his driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen – another very nice guy – always respectfully referred to him as ‘Mr Sauber,’ but never ‘Peter.’
Thanks to last week’s news that BMW has decided to sell back its 80 per cent stake in Sauber to its founder, a certain equilibrium will have been regained in the pit lane. The Swiss-based team was always understated and efficient, if perhaps not the most exciting outfit in the pit lane, and you always felt it was built on rock solid commercial foundations.
The fleeting plans for BMW to sell the team to the little-known Qadback organisation, the controversial investment group whose planned involvement with the Notts County football club has monopolised the sports columns recently, ended with negotiations stalling. As they were always going to do.
A spokesman added: "Negotiations were terminated recently. The combination of no legally effective contract and no starting place [on the grid] ultimately led to a dead end.” Excuse me for repeating myself, but ‘as they were always going to do.’
The four year partnership with BMW was a disappointment, yielding just a single GP win in Canada last year thanks to the efforts of Robert Kubica.
This summer BMW decided to follow Honda off the F1 stage. And just as Honda left what was to transmute into Brawn, then Mercedes, so BMW left Sauber to pick up the threads of their Ferrari-propelled history.
Not a bad way to resolve things, all told.