Mexican money for Sauber UPDATE #3 This rumor is definitely 'fact' now based on this announcement.
09/28/10 Rumors linking the world's richest man, Carlos Slim, to the Sauber team are gathering momentum.
Longer term, the thinking is that Sauber could become a 'Mexican Superteam.' The Hinwil outfit already has inaugural GP3 champion, the promising Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, only just 19, under contract as third and reserve driver for 2011.
The other name regularly linked with the team and the Slim stories is Sergio Perez, a 20-year-old Mexican who finished runner-up in this year's GP2 championship with Barwa Addax.
Interestingly, the word on the street is that Slim's motor racing consultant, Mexican former CART IndyCar series runner-up (behind Gil de Ferran in 2000) Adrian Fernandez, has established himself a base close to Sauber's factory in Hinwil, Switzerland.
Fernandez has been seen at several grands prix this season, as part of a small group led by Slim helping to develop young drivers, sponsored and supported by Slim's Telmex company. The idea was born a few years ago in Acapulco between Fernandez, Slim and Jimmy Morales. Sauber said when he handed the reins to BMW that he had no wish to be involved full-time on a day-to-day basis any longer but this may be a suitable task for 45-year-old driver/entrepreneur Fernandez.
Recently, on his website, Fernandez wrote of Perez: "Sergio is like a son to me. His Dad worked for me many years and we are like a family. I have known Sergio since he was two."
The smart money, therefore, could well be on a Kobayashi/Perez Telmex Sauber line-up in 2011, with Gutierrez joining the fold in 2012 after a season of GP2.
Funding, obviously, is unlikely to be a problem. Slim's net worth is estimated at around 38.5bn pounds, or ten Bernies if you prefer, and he overtook Bill Gates to become the world's richest man earlier this year according to Forbes.
As far as team names go, we gather that Telmex Sauber is more likely than Supermex Sauber, even with an all Mexican line-up. 'Supermex' was the moniker that stuck to famous golfer Lee Trevino and currently describes an LA/Orange County/Nevada restaurant chains which is still family-owned and operated and one of the few things with Mexican associations not currently owned by Carlos Slim!09/20/10 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.
09/03/10 (GMM) Peter Sauber on Friday refused to dismiss rumors linking his Swiss team with a major investment from Mexico.
Whilst working hard on securing a healthy budget for 2011, the formerly BMW-owned team has been running a mainly blank livery this season.
But paddock rumors have hinted at talks with Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire whose Telmex company already sponsors Sergio Perez in GP2.
And already with a Sauber contract is the Mexican teenage GP3 driver Esteban Gutierrez.
Asked about the Mexican link, Sauber said: "The team is attractive and has potential because it has an excellent infrastructure, absolutely comparable to that of the top teams.
"The fact that we cannot really rival the top teams is to do with our financial situation and head count. But the conditions are there," he told F1's official website.
Other than that, the Swiss insisted he doesn't "comment on rumors".
But he also revealed that Sauber's young driver Gutierrez is closely linked with Slim.
"This is the reason why you will find Carlos Slim a bit more often in our hospitality than at those of other teams, but it is also no secret that Carlos Slim is a much-welcomed guest at all the other teams as well," Sauber insisted.