x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Licence revived for Sauber

The governing body agrees to award the 13th spot on the grid, vacated by Toyota, to the former BMW team for next season subject to their signing the Concorde agreement.

The Swiss-based Sauber will take departed Toyota's place as Formula One's 13th team next season, the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) have said in a statement. "Subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement (the commercial agreement that binds teams to the series until 2012), BMW Sauber will be awarded the 13th entry in the Championship, taking the place of the departing Toyota team." The Munich-based carmaker BMW, who bought an 80 percent stake in the team in 2005, announced in July that they were pulling out of the sport at the end of the season just finished. A deal to sell the team to the mysterious Swiss-based investment fund Qadbak fell through and BMW said last week that they had handed back control to founder Peter Sauber. The team had by then already lost their place on the grid to newcomers Lotus F1, with the FIA saying Sauber were the official reserve should any other team decide to withdraw. That vacancy was provided by the Toyota team, who declared after the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi that they were pulling out. However the FIA held back from confirming Sauber's place pending clarification from Toyota about what, if anything, they intended to do with their team. Sauber have already reached an agreement with Ferrari to use the Italian company's engines next year, as they did in their previous existence before the BMW takeover.

Fresh speculation surrounded Renault's Formula One team with media reports suggesting the manufacturer was considering selling to British-based Prodrive. A spokesman for Prodrive, who are based near Renault's Enstone factory in central England, would not confirm or deny the rumours. The French newspaper L'Equipe reported earlier that Renault were considering a deal with Prodrive but planned to continue as an engine supplier to the team and Red Bull. A Renault F1 spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. Prodrive are run by David Richards, the former Benetton and BAR team boss who is also chairman of Kuwaiti-owned sportscar maker Aston Martin. The company secured a slot to enter Formula One in 2008 but withdrew due to uncertainty over the sport's future regulations. They applied again this year to be one of three new teams but were passed over for Cosworth-powered entries. Renault said last month that they would decide their Formula One future by the end of the year.