Why have Sauber removed Stake sponsor from F1 livery?

There will be a small change in Sauber's branding at the 2024 Australian GP

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Sauber will not display the logo of their title sponsor Stake on their livery or teamwear at the Formula 1 2024 Australian Grand Prix as the team attempts to navigate past F1’s regulations.

As if the team’s redesign for 2024 wasn’t confusing enough already – rebranding as Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber to be exact – the Australian GP will throw up another issue for fans, who will no doubt notice major changes to their black, grey and luminous green livery when it takes to the track on Friday.

The absence of its title sponsor Stake, an online gambling website, was noticeable as the team arrived at Albert Park on Thursday for their media duties. While Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas wore overalls displaying Stake’s logo in Saudi Arabia, eagle-eyed fans may spot that the ‘Kick’ logo has taken centre stage in Melbourne.

That is because Stake are prohibited from advertising its services in Australia, who banned online casinos back in 2001.

As a result, Sauber are using their backup registered title ‘Kick Sauber F1 Team’ instead of ‘Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber’. This also means that none of their teamwear will feature Stake branding as the Swiss team look to avoid receiving a financial penalty from the authorities.

Sauber have been heavily criticised for opting to choose Stake and Kick as their sponsors for the 2024 season given that both companies operate in online casinos and cryptocurrency respectively. Although several sporting teams across the world have linked up with the two firms, these sectors that are generally frowned upon in the sports industry.

Stake’s complicated relationship with Australia

At the team’s launch in February, team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi conceded he understood criticism would be aimed at the team for failing to honour their heritage as Sauber, who have been in F1 since 1993.

“The criticism will be always there. When you try something new, when you try a new language, when of course you have a team name that is different from other team names is always easy to criticise,” Alunni Bravi said. “But we put this into consideration. What we are doing is that we want to show the benefit of this choice.”

While Sauber describes its sponsor as a ‘betting, lifestyle, and entertainment brand’, Stake is actually a crypto casino that offers participants a platform where they can gamble with cryptocurrency.

Furthermore, its holding company is registered in Curacao – a Dutch-Caribbean island. But the company runs its operations from its headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, where its parent company Easygo Gaming and founders Bijan Tehrani and Edward Craven are based.

With that in mind, the Australian GP would almost offer something of a home race for the team’s title sponsor, not least because its driver Bottas has attracted cult hero status Down Under.

However, that has been complicated by its blanket ban on the Stake brand. Despite this, the country has permitted the company to function with its revised title as long as it does not advertise its services and offer them to Australians.

This will also be the case in Sauber’s home country Switzerland, in addition to Bahrain, China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Japan, and Qatar, countries that have banned gambling that are annually visited by F1 teams.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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