When F1 meets football: Sauber joins forces with Chelsea FC

The new Sauber cars with Chelsea FC branding will be revealed at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Story highlights

  • Sauber F1 cars bear Chelsea FC "teasers" at China and Bahrain grands prix
  • The sports organizations join forces in a ground-breaking marketing partnership
  • They hope to appeal to an international audience and boost sponsorship
  • Deal includes shared merchandise sales, advertising space and sports scientists

The mystery behind the peculiar inscriptions "Out of the Blue" and "True Blue" which first appeared on Sauber engine covers at the Chinese Grand Prix has finally been revealed.

The Swiss Formula One team has joined forces with English football club Chelsea in an innovative marketing ploy aimed at attracting a global audience -- and boost sponsorship.

It's the first such partnership between the sports, and from next week's Spanish Grand Prix all Sauber cars will be emblazoned with the slogan "Welcome Chelsea FC."

Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, already has an international fanbase but can now also capitalize on the following of Sauber's drivers -- Mexican Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi of Japan.

Likewise, the Sauber logo will soon be plastered on advertising boards at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium in London and on walls in the club's interview areas.

The multi-million-dollar organizations will share merchandise sales, advertising space and even sports scientists.

"A partnership like this between Formula One and football has never existed before in this form, yet there are numerous commonalities and possible synergies. In either case we are talking about team sport at the highest -- and international -- level," said Sauber chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn.

"The Sauber F1 team and Chelsea FC are dealing with many of the same sporting and commercial topics and we want to strengthen each other in these areas. We are looking forward to exploiting these opportunities."

F1 fans will get their first live glimpse of the new Sauber C3Is stamped with the Chelsea logo at the Circuit De Catalunya from May 11-13.

"We felt that this Swiss team, the fourth oldest of the existing teams, reflects our own ideals perfectly," Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said.

"In a year when Chelsea celebrates 20 seasons as a Premier League team, Sauber does so as a Formula One team. We share many philosophies when it comes to how the respective organizations are run, from the development of young talent to constantly striving for success.

"Sauber's philosophy towards grassroots development has produced some of the best drivers in F1, which mirrors our dedication to develop promising young football talent through our academy.

Abramovich has bankrolled Chelsea since buying it in 2003, but the club now has to start paying its own way under European football's new financial fair play rules.

"This partnership will benefit us both greatly, with the potential to create unique commercial opportunities," Gourlay said.

"It is a shared vision to unite the two most attractive sports in the world."