Following the conclusion of its sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo, Sauber has rebranded itself to Stake F1 Team.

After a six-season stint in partnership with Sauber Motorsport AG, the Alfa Romeo marque will not be on the F1 grid in 2024. However, while Alfa is gone, Sauber is here to stay, albeit with an entirely new team identity. Instead, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu will compete as the Stake F1 Team. So, let’s take a moment to understand what this all means…

What is the Stake F1 Team?

To put it simply, the Stake F1 Team is the new name for the team that F1 fans know as ‘Sauber’. The Swiss racing outfit has been in the sport for decades and enjoyed a reasonable amount of success in the past. However, F1 is an incredibly expensive championship, so it’s very difficult to fight against major constructors like Ferrari and Mercedes as a sole privateer. For that reason, Sauber has elected to seek major financial support from commercial partners throughout its racing history. Alfa Romeo was the most recent example of that, but now Stake is the new source of cash injection. So, what exactly is Stake?

Well, the company biography sounds like a collection of 2020s buzzwords. It’s a crypto-casino and sports betting hub, or as Sauber puts it in its press release, a “leading betting, entertainment, and lifestyle brand”. As a result, the news of this rebrand is likely to bring some controversy with it.

The problem with choosing Stake

The mass promotion and glorification of sports betting is an issue across many sports internationally. Football is arguably the place where detractors have spoken up the loudest so far, concerned that the overwhelming presence of these brands is inciting addiction. In fact, Stake itself is the current shirt sponsor of Everton Football Club, but a recent ruling will ban betting companies from sponsoring player kits from 2026 onwards.

Taking over the naming rights of an entire F1 team is new territory for a brand like this though. Admittedly, there are parallels to be drawn from history. After all, it wasn’t long ago that every F1 car worth its salt was a rolling cigarette billboard. Gambling is simply the new profitable vice to take the place of the tobacco, but no matter how you rationalize it, it still leaves a bad taste.

Sauber will lose Alfa Romeo branding in 2024.

Team name or chassis name?

The Stake F1 Team naming rights will span both the 2024 and 2025 seasons, but if you thought Sauber’s major new sponsorship deals ended there, you’d be wrong. Running in tandem with the Stake partnership across 2024 and 2025, Sauber will also be profiting from a deal with streaming platform, Kick. If you haven’t heard of Kick before, consider it a rival to Twitch. This agreement will see Kick gain naming rights for the car’s chassis. So, although the team will be entered into the championship as the Stake F1 Team, the car itself will be known as the Kick Sauber C44.

If you’re a TV commentator, that poses an interesting question. Do you refer to the cars as ‘Stakes’ or ‘Kick Saubers’? We’ll let Crofty figure that one out…

Audi enters F1 in 2026.

What does this mean for the future of Sauber?

These lucrative deals with Stake and Kick will run for two seasons until the end of 2025. So, what happens after that? Where will Sauber’s money come from? Well, if you’ve been keeping up with major F1 news over the past year or so, you’ll already know the answer to that.

From 2026, Sauber Motorsport AG will become the official Audi factory F1 team. That means it’ll not only enjoy Audi’s cash, but also benefit from Audi’s engineering expertise, culminating in a factory engine deal. Indeed, this won’t be like the outgoing Alfa Romeo partnership where Alfa handed over some money in return for a livery on the racecar. This will be a fully-fledged F1 commitment from the German marque, mirroring that of the biggest constructors in the sport. It’s a deal which could utterly redefine Sauber’s potential as a racing team.

For that reason, this somewhat complicated new Stake/Kick rebrand will only ever be a stop-gap solution (assuming Audi doesn’t get cold feet). As such, it’s hard to get too worked up about the new branding, whether you like it or not. It isn’t here to stay, so for now, let’s just be grateful that Sauber has enough backing to remain on the F1 grid in 2024.