F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is after a January bargain and has made a joint bid for struggling car manufacturer Saab which is currently owned by General Motors. He is making the bid in conjunction with Renault F1 investors Genii Capital. Reading between the lines a bit, does this mean that Bernie and Genii are shaping Saab up to take over the Renault team? We know Renault were desperate to leave after the damaging crashgate scandal, and Saab has experience in rallying which could be transferred into F1. If Kimi Raikkonen can make the switch from F1 to rallying, then it’s perfectly possible for Saab to make the opposite switch.
Bernie has said, “It’s a good brand that has probably been neglected by the current owners. We don’t own it yet, so let’s see what happens.” A good brand that could benefit from having the brand exposure that comes with owning a team? Mercedes saw an opportunity in Brawn GP, who will soon be called Mercedes GP. By turning Renault F1 into Saab F1, Bernie will be killing several birds with one stone. First, Saab will get the brand exposure at a cut-down price due to Renault’s recent bad fortunes on and off track, and hence Bernie’s investment will increase; secondly, it’s a way out for Renault; and thirdly, it gives Bernie control over a manufacturer in Formula 1 which, given the breakaway series shenanagins of 2009, could prove invaluable in negotiations of the 2012 concorde agreement (when the current one is up for renewal).
Anyway, that’s all speculation … but mark Badger’s words, we’ll have a Saab F1 team in the near future.