McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that he is worried for the future of the BMW Sauber future amid the ongoing doubts about its owners Qadbak.
Following uncertainty about the identity and credibility of the mysterious investment group, especially with the English Football Association investigating its involvement at Notts County, there have been questions asked about what the plans are for BMW Sauber. And with the team having failed to receive the unanimous support that it needed to be granted an automatic 14th slot on the grid next year, its situation is looking more precarious – as it now needs one of the planned new teams to withdraw if it is race in F1 next year.
Whitmarsh said that is not comfortable with BMW Sauber's position, especially because one of Qadbak's representative, British businessman Russell King, recently had assets seized following a court investigation. King had dealings with McLaren several years ago when he was involved in plans for a Dubai-based F1 team, which eventually failed to materialize.
Asked about the future of Qadbak and his thoughts on key individuals involved in the plans, Whitmarsh said: "I think you're referring to Russell King, and I have to say I started being concerned for Sauber when I heard his name."
The issue of Qadbak is understood to have been discussed in Sunday morning's FOTA meeting in Suzuka, with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali saying that the teams' body had to believe that BMW's due diligence on the investors was good enough to prove they were legitimate.
"If BMW check with the due diligence this financial company, we have to respect what they did," said Domenicali. "I can understand that there are voices around and certain things that are connected to them – but we have to trust BMW on that issue. They are reliable enough to decide if the company and the new financier of the Sauber team is good enough or not."
BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen is set to ask the FIA to make a decision soon about the fate of the new teams, following recent inspections of their progress. He has admitted that the team now risks being damaged by the uncertainty over its future caused by the failure to reach agreement on a 14th slot.
"It is certainly a drawback for the team because we need to talk to sponsors, we need to talk to drivers and it only makes sense if you have a confirmed place on the grid," he explained. "We are waiting for this, and every week we lose is damaging."