Sauber says it is in a much more stable position starting 2011 than it was a year ago, but denied that it has signed new driver Sergio Perez purely because of the sponsorship money he can bring.
Having begun 2010 with a largely plain car, Sauber was able to unveil an encouraging number of sponsor logos at its 2011 launch at Valencia today, with many of the new companies from Perez's Mexican homeland. The GP2 runner-up's career has long been supported by telecommunications firm Telmex.
Sauber's managing director Monisha Kaltenborn confirmed that the situation was far better than it had been immediately after BMW's exit in late 2010, and that Telmex's arrival had made a "significant" difference.
"We have become far more stabilized than we were a year ago, Peter [Sauber] had just taken over the team and start downsizing the company a lot, went through the process and completed a lot of the process and that makes the team more stable as we enter the new season," she said. "We managed to secure a deal with Telmex which is a very significant partner with the team.
"I think a team can never have too many sponsors but it is not all thanks to a driver, it is mainly the strong partner we have with Telmex and they have been supporting us as well, supporting the team in Mexico. This is a beginning and with the strong partners we are getting here we will be able to get further partners, no matter where [they are from]."
Sauber's technical director James Key was adamant that Perez's strong performances in GP2 had been as great a factor in the team's decision as his financial support.
"We took Sergio because he was the right person for the job," said Key. "There are links to Mexico but equally he is in the car because we believe he can do the job, particularly after what he did in GP2."
Perez added that he would understand if people did refer to him as a "pay driver", but that he was very comfortable that he belonged in F1.
"I don't really care because I know why I am in Formula 1," he said. "It's normal they call it like this because I have a lot of support from my country – but it's very normal that if you do some good seasons like I did in GP2 and in my career, you should get that chance.
"I am proud of myself and proud that there is interest in me from my country and they are helping me. That's why we have good sponsors in the team with me.
"I had to sacrifice a lot, nobody gave me anything for free. My family does not have money, I wouldn't have been able to race even in Formula BMW without help. But I had to work a lot, I had to move from Mexico when I was only 15, completely alone, to change my culture, everything, to fight for my dream to be a Formula 1 driver.
"I passed through some very difficult years – not only on the racing aspect but even in my life aspect. It was very difficult, but I'm very proud that I am here and now I have to work and do more sacrifices to be here. I have reached one of my goals and I hope I can keep reaching them."
Despite Perez's teammate Kamui Kobayashi making a great impression during 2010, Sauber has been unable to turn the interest in Kobayashi into Japanese sponsorship opportunities, but the team boss felt this was a symptom of the current economic situation.
"That is the reality. It is very difficult," said Sauber. "The situation we have is difficult to explain but it is not only with Japanese sponsors. Generally it is a difficult situation to get new sponsors. Like [for] all other teams..."