the end of The year 2016 it has been a relief for Sauber, which has undergone one of the seasons most harsh in its history, and could well have been the last. The team seemed doomed to an eventual demise in the first half of the season until the purchase by Longbow Finance, first, and the two points obtained by Felipe Nasr in the Grand Prix of Brazil, then, have guaranteed the financial continuity of the team for the season 2017.
In an extensive interview granted to GP Update, team leader Monisha Kaltenborn has unraveled part of the difficulties that Sauber has gone through this last year, as well as his current views on certain aspects of the category and the prospects for Sauber in the immediate future. For Kaltenborn, the acquisition of the team was the table of salvation and the guarantee to be able to compete and develop, which has allowed it to enter the device in “a chapter completely new”.
“The arrival of investors has marked the beginning of a whole new era in Sauber. Not only the team founder is not already a shareholder, the first time through, but we feel that it has open a very new chapter. We have stability, we have enough investment, we’re able to work the way you want it again and take the step forward, which has allowed us to re-develop. We were able to implement the development that we had for a long time in our flat, ready to be placed. You sit on the computer, you feel the motivation. you can Also see how we have focused on the careers and the strategies that we have taken, with the arrival of new people. It has been a great difference”.
Talking about the approach with which Sauber has had to face 2016 knowing of their economic constraints, Kaltenborn says that there had been a lot more difficult than in years past, because its work was limited to trying to stay ahead of Renault and Manor: “From the beginning, we knew that we could only do limited things. The difficulty was that all was well, for we were at the front of the group with which we were competing in the back. Then, if something happen and would have an opportunity, we would be there to seize it, not making mistakes and being patient. That was a much greater challenge, because we could not develop so much, it was simply not possible. Whatever it is that we had what implementábamos, knowing that there was going to be a huge leap, but that was going to lead above”.
“brands come and go; we are still here”
The role of the private teams in the Formula 1 is a topic that always generates hot discussions, especially when one of them goes through problems. The recent complications that crosses Manor, put under the management and with his participation in serious doubt because of indirect points of Sauber, have been the latest example.
over the past few years, Force India and Sauber have been the teams with the most belligerent at the time of claiming the role of the private teams in the sport, and to denounce what they consider a privileged situation of the large. Kaltenborn believes that it should be emphasized more the role of the private computer, and remove the advantages they have the big fish in certain bodies:
“I Think that the private teams are the backbone of the category. Brands have come and gone, all what we know, and what we have experienced. It is a matter of time that they come, and it is a matter of time that will be, when they have achieved their goals, because for a manufacturer is not an option to be the number two, as it was with BMW. It is not good enough, you have to be right on top. For us, this is our core business. It is not a face-marketing platform, where you show your technology. This is what we do, and that’s why we’re always here, no matter what you go through the sport; when the manufacturers leave, whatever the state in which the sport is, we’re still here, and somehow we continue to face the challenges. I believe that should stand out a little more. It is a problem, but the other for a team like us are the privileges that have certain equipment. First, the financial privileges, because there is a truly justifiable to do so, except that it is as it is, and the second is governance at the Strategy Group, in which certain teams have advantages and privileges in the decision making. Both, combined, lead to a competition distorted”.
Kaltenborn, in addition, has also spoken about the discussion about the drivers of payment, powered by the arrival at Williams of the young canadian driver Lance Stroll, who has a powerful economic support a family. Sauber in the recent past has also received similar accusations by align to Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, both with good sponsorships under the arm, but his boss says that the money is not incompatible with the talent, and that Sauber, who still has not designated the pilot who will accompany you to Ericsson, has had both aspects in mind when choosing pilots:
“What we need to do, which is different compared to the past, it is look also at the financial aspect, but it is not anything negative towards the talent. We have provided opportunities to talents, even in recent years. I don’t think it correct to say that, if a pilot comes with a support, automatically has no talent. That is not the equation. The equation is that the pilot must have the talent, because you have convinced of their support. If you are not good, nobody is going to give anyone that kind of support, we are not talking of small numbers. People have a perception very wrong: basically everyone here has had a support at some point in their career, it is not as if they had come here and someone would have paid the bills, have had to ensure that the budget was there. Many pilots have come to us with a lot of support and we have not contracted, because we believed that they were not as talented. We may have reason or not, but we make that decision”.
Stability to re-grow, the primary objective
despite the complications of the past year, in which they suffered for not finishing last in the constructors’, Kaltenborn believes that to be in the middle zone is “the goal for this season”, and expects people to be able to see at Sauber something more than the last few seasons: “we do Not limit ourselves to those two bad years that we’ve had. Looking at our history, 45 years in motorsport, and excluding the 2014 and 2016, the people should not reduce the team to that. We are a swiss team, a european team, this is how we see us. We are a strong engineering company, because it is not only Formula 1, is also an engineering business, where we offer excellent services. it Will be important to demonstrate that we have stability again, that we are growing and that we are a technological centre only“.
At Sauber, however, are aware of the requirements that requires the Formula 1 modern level of facilities, equipment, and personnel, and even if they recognize their inferiority with respect to the big teams, has as a priority to expand the capacity of the team for the immediate future, now that the financial stability is ensured:
“The challenges are basically the same, if you exclude the time in which we were stuck. We are still fighting against teams that have budgets much larger and a lot more people, so you can do parallel developments, and they have a lot more people to solve a problem that we would have. But we are used to it, we have always had a very high level of efficiency. Anyway, at some point we will have to take the step and further develop our team, to the standards that are there today. We have a role a little exotic while in Switzerland, we are not like Ferrari. We have to make certain changes in the organization to take that step forward towards what Formula 1 is today. It is a different type of development. Before there were more tests, and since we don’t have that in the same way, so that’s where we have to adapt. These last years we could not do all this, and we have to adapt our structures to this new path”.