2009 BMW F1 09 race car
The garage currently occupied by BMW-Sauber will be replaced by a Malaysian-owned 'Lotus F1 Team' in 2010, F1's governing FIA announced on Tuesday morning. But the Paris federation also gave hope to the Hinwil based team, who had also applied for the thirteenth and final 2010 entry in the wake of BMW's decision to quit the sport.
The FIA described Sauber's application as "impressive", but said Lotus had been selected for the definite 2010 entry because "there are still uncertainties" about the former team's future ownership. Sauber has instead been awarded the "14th place" in the 2010 pitlane, even though at present the sporting regulations and Concorde Agreement allow a maximum of 13 teams.
But the 14th place entitles Sauber "to fill any vacancy that arises on the 2010 grid", and in the meantime the FIA will "urgently" commence talks with F1's existing teams about expanding the grid to 28 cars in time for next season.
Regarding Lotus, the FIA said a company called 1Malaysia F1 Team has won the 13th entry for a Norfolk (UK)-based and Cosworth-powered team to be headed by Tony Fernandes and technical director Mike Gascoyne.
Fernandes is currently chief executive of the Malaysian airline AirAsia, a sponsor of the Williams team. The FIA said that in future, Lotus F1 will be based at Sepang.
As for the former BMW-Sauber F1 team, BMW has also announced that that the Hinwil based team will be sold to a Swiss-based foundation. A media statement described the buyer, Qadbak Investments, as representing "the interests of certain Middle East and European based families".
"The contract was signed today," said BMW, also revealing that Swiss national Lionel Fischer will head Qadbak's interest.