Sauber has sold its chassis and team naming rights to existing sponsors for the next two Formula 1 seasons as it waits to morph into the Audi works team.
The team’s Kick Sauber C44 car name has been confirmed by Sauber ahead of the FIA publishing the initial 2024 Formula 1 World Championship entry list on Friday, which names the team officially as Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber.
Audi is in the process of taking over Sauber before entering F1 as a manufacturer in 2026 with its own team and engine.
It bought a minority stake in the team at the start of 2023 and is set to increase that to 50% and then 75% over the next year or so.
But while Audi gears up for 2026 and Sauber’s existing Ferrari engine deal runs its course to the end of 2025, Sauber has struck a new naming rights deal for the intervening years.
It has run under the Alfa Romeo name for the last few seasons, initially just in title sponsorship form in 2018 before selling the team and chassis name to the Italian manufacturer from 2019 through to the end of 2023.
Once Audi decided to buy Sauber, though, it became clear the Alfa Romeo deal would not be extended beyond 2023.
Instead, emerging streaming platform Kick.com has stepped up from ‘major partner’ status, which gave it prominent branding and called the team "Alfa Romeo F1 Team Kick" at races where gambling and sports betting advertisements were not allowed, which impacted Sauber's other title partner Stake.
It also had a special livery on the car at the Belgian Grand Prix, and sponsors Sauber’s F1 Esports entry.
Now Sauber says KICK has secured “Sauber Motorsport chassis naming rights for 2024 and 2025”, a deal Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi called the “latest and boldest display of the philosophy that drives us” and one the team intends to use it to find new ways to get closer to F1 fans.
Stake has been confirmed in the team's official entry name, too.
KICK, which has Stake among its backers, launched in late 2022 with a revenue split of 95% to the streamer and 5% to the platform, and had “huge exponential growth” in 2023, Sauber said in its announcement.
Cashing in on the naming rights is designed to support Sauber's interim seasons as it prepares for the Audi transformation which will demand a clear step in competitiveness.
Until Audi takes majority control of the team, there are limitations to how much it will invest and where - meaning deals like this are important to support Sauber in funding improvements in facilities, personnel, and car development.
Alunni Bravi said at the end of the 2023 season that the pre-Audi seasons "are not two transition years", as they are much more important than just treading water until 2026.
"They are two years that are part of a long-term project that needs to bring the team to the next level and we need everything in terms of investment, also partners and sponsors that can help us sustain this role," said Alunni Bravi in Abu Dhabi.