London: BMW has sold its Formula One team to Qadbak Investments, a Swiss-based foundation representing unnamed Middle Eastern interests, and expects it to compete next season despite losing a guaranteed slot.
"The contract was signed today," BMW said in a statement announcing the deal on Tuesday.
In July, Qadbak bought Notts County, England`s oldest Football League soccer club, through their Munto Finance company. The fourth division team have appointed former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as director of football.
BMW said the sale secured a strong investor for the Swiss-based team. It added that Qadbak`s interest will be represented by Swiss national Lionel Fischer.
The Munich carmaker put the team up for sale after announcing in July that they were pulling out of the sport at the end of the season. They had bought an 80 percent stake in Sauber in 2005.
Founder Peter Sauber owns the other 20 percent.
The team, whose new name has yet to be revealed, has no guaranteed slot on the starting grid for 2010 after the governing International Automobile Federation decided on Tuesday to give the place to Malaysian-backed Lotus F1.
However, the FIA said BMW-Sauber had been given a 14th place as reserve in case any of the other teams already signed up for 2010 decided to withdraw before the start of the season.
The governing body added that there was also a good case to expand the starting grid to 14 teams, with 28 cars, and would urgently consult existing entries to see if the regulations could be changed.
"We are pleased to confirm that the FIA has indicated that we may have a place in the 2010 Formula One World Championship," a BMW-Sauber spokesman said.
"The team expects to line up on the grid for the first race of the 2010 season."
BMW-Sauber could secure their place even without a rule change, with lingering speculation about the future of several existing teams.
Renault face a hearing in Paris next week to answer charges that they ordered Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately in Singapore last year and help team mate Fernando Alonso win the race.
If found guilty, they could be excluded from the championship.
FIA president Max Mosley warned last week that more manufacturers could follow BMW and Honda, who quit at the end of last year, out of the sport before the start of the season.
"I think we may lose another one, might even lose two and there`s also one or two of the private teams who will find it difficult," he said.
Four new teams -- Manor, US F1, Campos F1 and Lotus F1 -- are due to make their debuts next season.