SEPTEMBER 13, 1999
The Sauber Civil War
THE bosses of the Red Bull Sauber Petronas team will meet this week in Switzerland to decide who really controls the team and it looks like founder Peter Sauber may be struggling for support amongst his partners and backers. We hear that both Fritz Kaiser - the team's commercial director - and sponsor Petronas are not very happy with the way in which the team has been running in recent months and want to see Sauber out of the way so that the team can be reorganized and perhaps even relocated to Britain. We have heard suggestions that if Kaiser wins the fight there is a chance that he will try to negotiate a deal for David Richards of Prodrive to be involved in a reformed Sauber in Britain. Richards's position with relation to Ford remains a mystery at the moment so it is hard to know whether this is serious or not. Other names we have heard mentioned as possible partners in a revamped Sauber are Gerhard Berger and Flavio Briatore both of whom have had considerable dealings with Kaiser in the past.
Much depends on the attitude of the team's majority shareholder Dietrich Mateschitz of Red Bull. If Mateschitz sides with Kaiser, Peter Sauber is in danger of being pushed out of his own team, but if Mateschitz supports Sauber, Kaiser may leave, taking Petronas with him. There may be an attempt at a compromise solution but this is likely to do little more than paper over cracks in the organization which are not going to go away, and would serve only to delay an eventual showdown.
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