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September 16, 2009

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Swiss-based Qadbak takes over BMW

BMW has sold its Formula One team to Qadbak Investments, a Swiss-based foundation representing unnamed Middle Eastern interests, and expects it to compete next season despite losing a guaranteed slot.

"The contract was signed today," BMW said in a statement announcing the deal yesterday.

In July, Qadbak bought Notts County, England's oldest Football League soccer club, through its Munto Finance company.

The fourth division team have appointed former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as director of football.

BMW said the sale secured a strong investor for the Swiss-based team. It added that Qadbak's interest will be represented by Swiss national Lionel Fischer.

The Munich carmaker put the team up for sale after announcing in July that it was pulling out of the sport at the end of the season. It had bought an 80 percent stake in Sauber in 2005.

Founder Peter Sauber owns the other 20 percent.

The team, whose new name has yet to be revealed, has no guaranteed slot on the starting grid for 2010 after the governing International Automobile Federation gave the place to Malaysian-backed Lotus F1.

However, the FIA said BMW-Sauber had been given a 14th place as reserve in case any of the other teams already signed up for 2010 decided to withdraw before the start of the season.

The governing body added that there was also a good case to expand the starting grid to 14 teams, with 28 cars, and would urgently consult existing entries to see if the regulations could be changed.

"We are pleased to confirm that the FIA has indicated that we may have a place in the 2010 Formula One World Championship," a BMW-Sauber spokesman said.

"The team expects to line up on the grid for the first race of the 2010 season."

BMW-Sauber could secure its place even without a rule change, with lingering speculation about the future of several existing teams.


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