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Eastern promise for Sauber 03 Mar 2003

The new Sauber Petronas driver pairing of Nick Heidfeld (GER), left, and returnee Heinz-Harald Frentzen (GER), right.
United States Grand Prix, Rd16, Indianapolis, USA., 29 September 2002

Together with Ferrari, Peter Sauber's team is one of the few that has managed to buck current economic trends and to attract new sponsorship for 2003. In the Swiss entrepreneur's case, it is Russia and Eastern Europe's major mobile telephone provider, Mobile TeleSystems.

MTS and its subsidiaries own the mobile phone licenses (GSM 900/1800) for 56 regions in Russia with 103 million people, which equates to 72 percent of the entire Russian population. The company, whose logos appear on the Sauber Petronas C22's bargeboards, is currently active in 47 of these regions and plans to expand further. Within the first nine months of 2002, it recorded net profits of $191.9m on revenues of $952.5m. The deal, worth $8m in 2003, is for three years.

"In a difficult economic environment we've managed to lock in a package of solid financial backing," Sauber said at the launch of the new C22 in February. "Nine days ago, Red Bull decided to extend its partnership with us, and now we've been able to secure MTS as another sponsor. This underscores the appeal of our team. Together with our sponsors, PETRONAS and Credit Suisse, we now have a solid basis for our forward-looking strategy."