New owners Longbow Finance have secured a 2017 full of in-season upgrades for Sauber, but the Swiss team are still having to take on drivers with significant financial backing next year instead of selecting their line-up on pure racing talent.
Sauber finished 8th in 2015 but were given the second-lowest sum of prize money given separate deals and legacy payments that other teams receive. Despite finishing behind them last season, McLaren received $82m to Sauber’s $54m.
Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn explains the decision to seek out financially backed drivers. She said,
“We have to consider that in view of what the environment is like out there.
We’re confident our car will be better next year and we’re hoping to have more sponsors onboard, but in the current environment, it is still about finances.
There is a close link to the more you have, the more you can test and that’s what you need to do. It would be very beneficial and good the way we are going and help us to do things quicker.”
– Monisha Kaltenborn
This announcement negates any sense that Sauber would be able to push on in 2017 without having to base such crucial decisions on fiscal outcome. Saucer are also a big argument for Liberty Media to consider franchising the teams so that they can freely select their driver line-up without finances reducing the spectrum of choice.
Formula One should attract the best drivers in Motorsport, not the wealthiest. It’s a certainty that fans will become disenfranchised if pay drivers continue to make up the landscape and ultimately, it’s a shame that a team with a legacy of its own in Formula One isn’t more protected and respected by the individuals and affiliated corporations that benefit hugely from their participation.