SEPTEMBER 25, 2009

Theissen confirms Ferrari engines for BMW Sauber-Qadbak F1 team

BMW Motorsport boss Dr Mario Theissen has confirmed that the Swiss team will be using Ferrari engines in 2010 as has been rumoured since BMW announced that it is pulling out of F1 and will not produce any further F1 engines. The deal is believed to be for three years. The team is negotiating with the current drivers but they are keen to know about budgets and engineers before making any commitment.

In the meantime, there has been much research going on into the identity of the team's new owners QADBAK. This has revealed some unfortunate connections with a Dubai-based businessman called Russell King.

King has been closely involved in Qadbak's dealings with the Notts County soccer team and the Willett family and has also been involved on the fringes of Formula 1, trying to start a Dubai-funded team.

The Times is reporting that King was sentenced to two years in prison for an insurance scam in 1991 after faking the theft of a £600,000 Aston Martin that he owned in an attempt to claim the insurance money to boost his ailing business. He was found guilty of attempting to obtain money by deception. King is said to have $3m of assets frozen by courts in Jersey as a result of an investigation into a company called Belgravia, which ran into trouble in 2008.

King first popped up in racing in 2002, linked to Essentially Sport, a company that managed Jenson Button. Essentially Sport's John Byfield and King were also involved with another company called Grand Prix Investments, which was announced as a buyer of the Jordan team in 2004. This apparently had the blessing of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai, but obviously did not have his financial backing as the plans never came to fruition. The intention then was to run a secondary McLaren team paying $75m a year for the cars. King has close links with the Willett family. Peter Willett is chairman of the soccer club and is also a key player in the Al Thani Investment Group, which is an oil-rich company based in Dubai and headed by Abdullah bin Saeed al Thani.

The Willetts are also involved in a Swiss company called Swiss Commodity Holding AG.

It is extremely unlikely that BMW would have done any deals without first looking into the companies involved. The fact that QADBAK wants to remain anonymous has attracted attention.