“Next year, we have no team and the only reason for us to go back into Formula One is on a business deal, for the lubricant business,” Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican was quoted as saying by the Malaysia's Star newspaper.
What that means is that Peter Sauber will have to look for a new sponsor next year, because the Malaysian oil giant is no longer interested in pumping money into the now-independent team. Their deal with the Hinwil based team expired at the end of 2009 – the contract was actually signed with BMW, who quit the series last year – but several rumors suggested that they were willing to extend it once the Swiss outfit had safeguarded itself from bankruptcy.
However, Petronas will continue its partnership with the world of Formula One in 2010, as the title sponsor of the Malaysian Grand Prix, at Sepang.
As for Peter Sauber, Petronas is now the second important sponsor lost by the Swiss owner in the past week, as FxPro recently announced it will not extend its agreement with the team for the 2010 season. Instead, they will begin a new partnership with British team Virgin Racing.
On the bright side, signing Kamui Kobayashi for the 2010 campaign will likely bring Sauber a great sponsor in Panasonic, who will reportedly back the Japanese driver throughout the upcoming year.