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BMW Sauber Confirmed As 13th Team For 2010 After Toyota Departure

Gareth Llewellyn-StevensCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2009

14 Oct 2001:  Sauber drivers Nick Heidfeld (front left) and Kimi Raikkonen (front right) celebrate 4th place in the Constructors Championship with Boss Peter Sauber (front centre) after the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix held at Suzuka in Suzuka, Japan.\ Mandatory Credit: Mark Thompson /Allsport
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

BMW Sauber has finally been confirmed as the 13th entry for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship following Toyota's decision to leave the sport.

BMW had decided to quit the sport before Toyota, but negotiations of a buy out with the mysterious Qadbak Investments Ltd consortium led to the team failing to sign the new Concorde Agreement, and ultimately facing the prospect of not being on the grid in 2010.

Following Toyota's decision to renege on the Concorde Agreement and the collapse of the Qadbak deal, former Sauber team owner, Peter Sauber, stepped in to lead the buyout from BMW.

On Monday, the FIA published their list of entrants for the 2010 season, with a footnote advising that an announcement would be made soon about Toyota's entry.

However, today's announcement will be welcome news to the Swiss-based team in limbo since the initial departure was announced.

A statement from the FIA said, "The FIA has written to inform BMW Sauber AG that their application for an entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship has been successful.

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"Subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement, BMW Sauber will be awarded the 13th entry in the Championship, taking the place of the departing Toyota team.

"The FIA has worked closely with the Commercial Rights Holder and the teams involved over recent weeks and is grateful for their support in achieving the best outcome for the sport."

BMW Sauber has already lost driver Robert Kubica to Renault for the 2010 season, while Nick Heidfeld has yet to confirm a driver for next year, but has been linked with 2009 world champions Brawn GP, rebranded as Mercedes Grand Prix for 2010.

The FIA will update their entry list in due course, with Swiss newspaper Blick reporting that the team will be rebranded as Team Sauber F1 until a title sponsor is found. The 2010 car will be the C29, numbered 26 and 27, and powered by Ferrari engines, rekindling an old very close working relationship between 1997 and 2005.

It is also unclear on what financial terms Sauber has joined. Given that it lost all guaranteed rights by not signing the new agreement and likely wouldn't receive the financial reward generated from points won, it can be speculated that they have joined on the same terms as the four new incoming teams.

The statement from the FIA appears to confirm that with "working closely with the Commercial Rights Holder and the teams over recent weeks" most likely to be a nod to the financial arrangement for Sauber in return for their entry.

Without the millions of BMW, expect Sauber to reduce their 388-man workforce at Hinwil at least below 250, while they will need to quickly secure sponsorship to have a hope of mounting a serious challenge in 2011.

Sadly for Peter Sauber, a Brawn-like buy out success is unlikely to happen, neither will there be the kind of support Brawn enjoyed from the Virgin Group, who recently announced they were going into partnership with the Manor GP team and will race as Virgin Racing.

That said, Sauber are still in F1, with or without buckets of cash, and that itself is success enough. As well as the Ferrari relationship, it is also speculated that former sponsor Petronas will return in some capacity.

In their previous incarnation, Sauber launched the careers of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Felipe Massa, gave Nick Heidfeld a competitive drive from 2001, and in the same year launched the F1 career of a relatively unknown Finnish driver by the name of Kimi Räikkönen. With the team finishing that year fourth, in the constructors championship, was their best effort.

On the current driver front, experienced drivers Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli, and Heikki Kovalainen are all chasing 2010 drives, while former Toyota rookie Kamui Kobayashi is also available on the cheap, while 2008 and 2009 BMW Sauber test driver Christian Klien, and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa are also in the market.

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