First it was Sir Frank Williams who had reservations about BMW-Sauberâ€™s new owners and now you can add Martin Whitmarsh to that distinguished list. It seems that as time rolls on and the layers of the onion are peeled back, there is reason for pause over the Qadbak acquisition of BMW-Suaberâ€™s F1 team.
Last week Williams had expressed concern over the details of the acquisition; namely the people behind the money and the long-term intentions of the team. Now McLarenâ€™s Martin Whitmarsh has voiced his concerns that one of the players in Qadbak was Russell King. King was jailed on insurance fraud in 1991 and was part of a group that attempted to create a Dubai-team reports Jonathan Noble of Autosport. Apparently he was speaking with McLaren about that opportunity and this gave Whitmarsh reason for pause. Not a ringing endorsement for King.
Simple searching will reveal that King had his assets frozen over unpaid debt in Jersey and was involved in the Notts County club acquisition as well. That acquisition was met with concern by league officials who demanded to know who was behind the money before clearing the sale of the club. It was eventually revealed that two Middle East families were involved but no other details were given.
Even more strange is that during the process it was revealed that former Pakistani Prime Minister, Moeen Qureshi, was part of the Qadbak consortium but he denies knowing anything about the group. It was later suggested by Qadbak that this means he “is a member of the family, not one of the investors”. Nice move Mr. PR guy.
Autosportâ€™s Noble quoted Whitmarsh as saying: “I think you’re referring to Russell King, and I have to say I started being concerned for Sauber when I heard his name.” This brings serious concern and in the same article expertly penned by Mr. Noble, it is suggested that the FOTA meeting did discuss the investment. Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali was appealing the BMWâ€™s due diligence and was trying to take the high road by suggesting that they had vetted Qadbak prior to making the deal.
That seems likely but it also seems likely that the due diligence process could have been short circuited due to the time frame in which they had to put the deal together. An 80 million pound deal in a matter of weeks is very fast no matter how much money you have.
It remains to be seen but I submit that the plot thickens. As a fan of F1, you can see how this is concerning to FOTA and others within the paddock. Unfortunately all we see is some high level reservations regarding BMW-Sauber being allowed on the grid next year and that irritates us as fans.
As with anything in F1, the plot thickens the more you dig and by the time you get to the desired depth on a story, you forgot what you were digging for and no one really cares anyway.