Red Bull sticking with Sauber in 2002?

PETER SAUBER has indicated that the success of the little Swiss outfit in 2001 has earned a reprieve from the anticipated pull-out by title sponsor Red Bull.

Red Bull had previously been thought to be planning its way out from the team, in which it is a shareholder, after several uncompetitive seasons. Chief executive Dietrich Mateschitz also fell out with Peter Sauber for choosing the raw talent of Kimi Raikkonen over his man Enrique Bernoldi, and put increased backing behind Arrows after the Brazilian was signed by Tom Walkinshaw.

The team appears to have been proven right in its signing, Raikkonen scoring nine points so far as the team has outpaced Jordan, Jaguar and BAR to be 'best of the rest' behind the race-winning Williams, McLaren and Ferrari teams, but it might not yet be enough to maintain Red Bull in its current role. Sauber himself has previously stated that the soft drink firm wanted to go for a more American-based branding opportunity as Red Bull seeks to take on such giants as Coca-Cola and Pepsi on home soil.

"I think we can already see changes in the relationship for next year," said Sauber. "I can certainly foresee that Red Bull will stay with the team in one way or another." It remains likely, however, that Red Bull will attempt to sell its stake in the team at the end of this season even if it stays on the team's sponsor list.

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