Sauber remains steadfast amidst swirling reports of a Swiss federal investigation questioning the legality of its new branding strategy in Formula 1. The team’s transition away from its Alfa Romeo partnership towards a fresh pre-Audi identity under sponsors Stake and Kick for the 2024 season has raised eyebrows, primarily due to Switzerland’s stringent regulations against gambling advertising. The controversy centers around the Stake sponsorship, an Australian online casino company, which seemingly conflicts with Swiss laws prohibiting such advertising.
SRF, a prominent Swiss broadcaster, highlighted the potential for Sauber to incur fines up to 500,000 Swiss francs due to the alleged breach of law. The extent of the repercussions Sauber might face over the full 24-race calendar remains unclear. Adding to the intrigue, the official Sauber Group website has notably scrubbed any references to Stake, other team partners, or even its Hinwil-based Formula 1 team, with attempts to access the ‘Partners’ page now leading to a “404 – This page could not be found” error.
Despite the mounting speculation and the media spotlight on Sauber’s sponsorship dilemma since unveiling its neon green and black Stake F1 Team car for 2024, the team has responded with a composed dismissal of the concerns. “Sauber Motorsport AG has always adhered and continues to adhere to the laws in force both in Switzerland and in the countries where the races take place,” a team spokesperson declared, emphasizing their commitment to legal compliance. The spokesperson further expressed confidence regarding the Swiss authority’s investigation: “We are not concerned about the (SRF) article about the ongoing investigation by Swiss authorities. It is a process that will confirm that we are complying with all admissible laws in force.”