Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber: Why are legal proceedings opened against this name?

Swiss F1 Team Sauber is taking an aggressive commercial strategy, with Stake and Kick taking naming rights for the team and chassis, respectively. This is to fill a two-year gap between its partnership with Alfa Romeo ending and Audi’s entry from 2026.

But now, it appears that Stake, a crypto casino operator, has placed the team in a controversial position due to legal restrictions in Switzerland.

Why did Sauber land in hot waters over Stake F1?

Sauber entered into a sponsorship deal with Stake last season, and this partnership appears to have taken on a more significant role this year after Alfa Romeo, the previous title sponsor, left the scene. This bigger role is now clearly highlighted by the stake logos on the latest Sauber car, the C44; the team has even rebranded itself as the Stake F1 Team.

Following the unveiling of the C44 (which is to be driven by ex-Mercedes man, Valterri Bottas) on Monday, February 5, the team has entered the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

The Stake F1 branding has landed Sauber in legal ‘hot waters’ over Stake’s illegal, unlicensed operation in Switzerland, where gambling advertisements by foreign companies are restricted.

As reported by the Swiss broadcaster SRF on Tuesday, the Swiss Federal Gambling Commission had opened legal proceedings against Sauber due to this. The report also stated that Sauber could be charged with a ‘possible fine of up to 500,000 Swiss francs ($573,000)’.

Moreover, the Washington Post also reported that “In an e-mailed statement to The Associated Press, the regulator, known as the ESBK, said it would not comment on any proceedings. It said Stake’s online gambling website was not approved to operate in Switzerland and had been on a blocked list since 2021”.

Sauber looks to have landed in quite the ‘legal lockdown’ in its home ground, Switzerland, which has recently lifted its 65-year-old ban on motorsport racing.

Why was Swiss GP cancelled?

Talking about the ban, motorsport racing, especially the Swiss Grand Prix, was banned in Switzerland as a result of the 1955 Le Mans disaster. At the time of the race, the Mercedes driver, Pierre Levagh, crashed into the side fences, causing the car to burst into flames. This sent debris flying into the bystanders, killing 83 people and injuring 180 more as a result.

This incident forced the Swiss Government to ban all forms of motor racing on public roads and circuits, and eventually the Swiss Grand Prix as well. However, in 2022, the ban was lifted by the Swiss government, making way for the ‘possible return’ of the Swiss GP.

1955 Le Mans disaster via The Independent

Do you think the Stake F1 team can cope with its ongoing ‘off-the-track’ issues? Will this hamper the team’s on-track performance? Let us know your opinion in the comments.


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