BERNE (Reuters) - Swiss team Sauber will remain in Formula One for “many years” despite the financial difficulties which have left suppliers unpaid, owner Peter Sauber said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.
Sauber, who confirmed that he and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn had made two recent trips to Moscow, added the negotiations for a new partner were nearing a conclusion.
“We will not only see out this season to the end, but we will still be in Formula One for many years,” Sauber told the Swiss newspaper Blick. “I am convinced.”
“The negotiations which we have been involved are close to reaching a conclusion. I‘m convinced that we will succeed in getting a rescue.”
Despite the visits to Moscow, Sauber said he did not want to comment on whether the team would be joining forces with a Russian partner.
“I do not want to give an opinion on that. It is clear, that we simply need a big, strong partner,” he said.
The team have had to soldier on as an independent after BMW pulled out as partners and from F1 completely at the end of 2009.
“The situation is serious. It is one of the most difficult situations since I’ve been in motorsport,” said Sauber.
”For many, we’ve been a very good and a very reliable partner for years. Obviously I‘m sorry for any supplier who has had to wait for his money.
“We have not had to lay anyone off yet and have paid wages on time,” he added.
Sauber himself has gradually stepped back from the day-to-day running of the team, leaving Kaltenborn in charge as the only female principal in the sport.
They have never won a grand prix as an independent team having joined F1 in 1993, with BMW-Sauber only taking the chequered flag once in 2008 in Canada with Robert Kubica.
Sauber said he was encouraged by the performance at the German Grand Prix last week, when Nico Hulkenberg was 10th and Esteban Gutierrez 14th.
“We came into the season with a car that is too slow. This is the main problem,” he said.
“Then the financial problems meant we could not develop. But the race at the Nuerburgring was a step forward. We’ll come back. In every respect.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Alison Wildey