SEPTEMBER 15, 2001
What did Sauber get from McLaren?
GIVING up Kimi Raikkonen was a curious thing for Peter Sauber to have done - but in the world of Formula 1 people do funny things when large checks are on offer. But the question is why would Sauber sell his best asset when he has a decent budget already. Some argue that a team boss can never have enough money but the major question being asked at Monza was how much was enough for Peter Sauber? It is safe to assume that Kimi was offered a good enough deal to make it worth his while to explain to Sauber that he no longer wanted to drive for Sauber. But a contract is still a contract and Peter Sauber could have parked the Finn for at least a year. So there must have been quite a big sweetener for Sauber to agree to let him go. The official McLaren Mercedes line was that only money was involved and that there is no engine deal. Official lines are to be treated with circumspection. Sauber's current engine deal costs him $25m a year. To have a free engine would be a good idea for him. That would make the sacrifice of Raikkonen worth it. Some say that Sauber settled for as little as $5m but this seems to be ludicrously low.
The fact is that if there is an engine deal in the offing with Mercedes-Benz it would be in the interest of everybody that this did not become obvious too early because otherwise next year Sauber might not find itself with the same level of Ferrari engines than is now the case.
The truth will out as it always does in Formula 1. It will just time to see what is going to happen. There are some in the paddock who reckoned that we will see Sauber-Mercedes cars running around in 2003. It makes sense...
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