Toyota may sell grid spot and rule out Sauber return
Toyota is looking to sell its grid spot and F1 operation to a new team, Stefan GP, in a move that could leave Sauber out of F1.
Auto Motor und Sport and Blick report that Toyota is hoping to sell in order to avoid facing a fine of US$150 million for breaching the Concorde Agreement - a contract with Formula One management and the FIA that binds the sport together. The team is looking to sell its HQ and its place in the 2010 grid to a Serbian engineering company AMCO, headed up chief executive Zoran Stefanovic.
The deal is expected to be worth US$7.5 million and will see Stefan GP use Toyota's half developed 2010 chassis as well as engines until 2011. Technical director Pascal Vasselon and driver Kamui Kobayashi - who raced for Toyota in the final two grand prix of last season - are also linked to the deal and are reported to be bringing US$5 million of Toyota sponsorship money with them.
Stefan GP was among the teams vying for one of four avaliable places on the 2010 grid, which were eventually granted to Campos, Manor, US F1 and Lotus. Stefan GP filed a complaint against the FIA's selection process with the European Commission in August.
The news may leave Sauber out in the cold for 2010 - just days after BMW announced it was selling its squad back to Peter Sauber. If Stefan GP does take over Toyota's grid place, Sauber would be forced to seek special dispensation to race in 2010. A number of teams, most notably Williams, have been vocal in their opposition to an extra team next year. Williams has raised objections to a 14th team on both financial and logistical terms, claiming it holds nothing against Sauber in particular. A final list of entrants for the 2010 season is expected to be issued after the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting on December 11.