Sauber may be forced to change their team name again just days after announcing another revamp for the 2024 season as Swiss authorities investigate the Formula 1 team.
The team changed their name from Alfa Romeo after the Italian carmaker’s sponsorship ended in 2023 and included new companies Kick and Stake as title sponsors to form the name ‘Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber’, with the team hoping to improve on their ninth-place finish in the constructors’ championship in 2023.
In Sauber‘s home nation of Switzerland, strict laws apply to all types of gambling and, more specifically, advertising for online casinos or sports betting providers is prohibited. It is this detail which had an impact on Sauber‘s decision to hold their presentation of the new C44 car in London, rather than at their factory in Hinwil, as they normally would.
However, Swiss regulators are apparently not satisfied with that concession and have initiated official proceedings against the F1 team, according to Swiss broadcaster SRF.
The Federal Casino Commission is now investigating whether there has been a violation of the law and, if found guilty, the F1 team could face a fine of 500,000 Swiss francs (£453,576). The other big question to answer is whether a conviction would also force Sauber to rename their team.
The F1 team’s representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi insisted that they had abided by the laws and appeared confident they would escape punishment.
“We always comply with all applicable laws, including in Switzerland. And of course we have taken all measures to comply with them,” Bravi said to SRF.
A mysterious change
It was interesting to note that one day after the investigation was launched, logos and references to the main sponsor Stake had been removed from Sauber’s own website.
The page on which the racing team lists its partners was suddenly no longer accessible on February 7, although it remains unclear whether it will be sufficient to appease the Swiss lawmakers.
Bravi assured that Sauber have experienced similar issues in the past and resolved the problem by racing under two different entities.
“We used two different names last season, depending on which countries we raced in,” Bravi added. “We will comply with all local laws and where gambling advertising is prohibited we will use a different name.
“The official name of the car is Kick Sauber. Wherever we do not compete as a Stake F1 team, we will use our second name.”