The Sauber team, which has reverted to its original branding in the wake of BMW’s withdrawal from Formula 1, has been officially included in the FIA’s entry list for the 2010 season.
Sauber had previously applied for the 14th position on the list, as a late entry. This was necessitated by the fact that BMW neglected to sign the new Concorde agreement during the summer, as they had already decided to pull out of Formula 1. Had they signed the Concorde, Sauber would have been guaranteed an entry for 2010.
Refusing to assign the Concorde made sense in one respect: it protected BMW from being liable for a possible fine for breaking the terms of the agreement by wihtdrawing from the sport. By way of contrast, Toyota, who also decided to withdraw from F1 next year, did sign the Concorde, and now face a possible 150 million euro fine for breaking their commitment covered by the agreement.
However, what made sense for BMW created a problem for anyone acquiring the team. A late entry of a non-signatory team requires unanimous approval by FOTA (Formula One Team Association), which Sauber was not able to get. The Williams team vetoed the deal.
Call it irony, or poetic justice, in the end it was Toyota’s withdrawal from Formula 1 that paved the way for Sauber’s entry. Instead of being granted a slot as the 14th team on the grid, Sauber will, in effect, be taking Toyota’s place as the 13th team.
An official press release by the FIA read as follows: “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. 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.”
Image by formula1wolf, licensed through Creative Commons.