Sauber looks to the East

Peter Sauber announced on Sunday that his team has signed a long-term agreement for sponsorship from the Russian mobile telephone operator Mobile Tele Systems. MTS is the major mobile phone supplier of Russia and Eastern Europe with licences for 56 regions which cover 103m people, although at the moment only 47 of those regions are currently operational. The company is expanding rapidly and has revenues for the first nine months of last year of $952m which produced a profit of $191m. The company is listed on a variety of stock exchanges outside Russia, notably the New York Stock Exchange.

The signing is a major coup for Sauber at a time when almost no-one is bringing in any new sponsorship into the sport and it is also indicative of a trend as the last major new sponsor was last autumn when Minardi did a deal with Gazprom, another Russian firm.

Sauber is currently investing in a brand new state-of-the-art windtunnel in Hinwil and so the extra sponsorship money will be very useful for the team.

After yesterday's press launch, the team gave the new C22 its public launch with a spectacular show on the ice at the Zurich Oerlikon indoor sports arena. This was to mark the 10th anniversary of the team's entry into Formula 1 and among the former drivers present were Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger, Jean Alesi, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.

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