Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed suggestions that he could offer a handout to the Sauber F1 team in the wake of the Swiss team’s financial plight.
The team, which marks its 21st year of F1 competition this season, is struggling this season, both competitively and on the balance sheets, amid rumours that Nico Hülkenberg will split with the team, having not been paid since May.
Ecclestone has been known to offer financial assistance to teams in the past – most recently to the Lotus (then known as Renault) team in 2011 – but when asked if he would consider doing the same for Sauber, it was knocked back.
“We have agreements that require us to treat all the teams equally,” Ecclestone told Swiss broadcaster SRF.
“They’re a good team [though] and I’m sure there is more than one possible buyer.”
According to the latest speculation, up to three potential buyers are sniffing around and in the mix to buy out the team.
Nicolas Todt – a GP2 team chief, prominent F1 driver manager and son of FIA president Jean Todt – has been linked with a buyout, as has Chelsea football club’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, whose team already has a commercial partnership with the Hinwil-based squad.
Also in the mix is one of Russia’s wealthiest men, Boris Rotenberg.
One logical buyer, Sauber sponsor Telmex, has already ruled out buying the team, which is no surprise given the team’s expected move to take over the title sponsorship of McLaren at the end of the season.
“I don’t want to imagine F1 without Sauber,” Ecclestone added, conscious of the team’s contribution to the sport’s midfield.
“Ideally, they will find new sponsors in the long term, but even companies who are willing to support them in the short term would be fine. The team deserves to be helped.
“I don’t know exactly what their financial situation is, but I know it’s not as good as it should be.”
But the billionaire also hinted that Sauber wasn’t the only team in strife.
“There are others that are spending more money than they have,” he confirmed.