Peter Sauber interview

Peter Sauber interview

1 December 2010 – Five days ago it was exactly a year since Peter Sauber bought his F1 team back from BMW, after the German manufacturer quit the sport. Here, the 67-year-old looks back on an eventful season, in which his team scored 44 points.


Peter, have you ever regretted the decision to buy the team back?

No, never. And I never will, although I knew that keeping the team alive would be a very difficult task. But if I hadn’t taken the plunge, every day I’d have been asking myself why. We’ve cleared one obstacle after another from our path; when I compare the situation a year ago to where we are today, everybody in the team can be proud of what we’ve achieved.

The team’s progress early in the season was very slow. What was going through your mind?

That was tough, no question. The car was not only too slow, it was also unreliable, which is extremely unusual for this team. And then, as so often happens in sport, we also had a fair amount of bad luck. That wasn’t just annoying, it also made negotiations with potential sponsors pretty much a non-starter.

But then, from Valencia onwards, things suddenly picked up. What was the catalyst?

In April James Key took over as Technical Director and achieved a great deal in a short period of time. He and his team identified the weaknesses of the C29 and laid down a clear roadmap for improvements. These ideas were quickly put into practice and had a positive effect. After collecting just a single World Championship point in the first eight races of the season, we added another 36 over the next eight GPs – plus seven in the final three races. Added to which, James also implemented a series of organisational changes. Our success in finding a way out of such a difficult situation over the course of the season represents a fine advertisement for the quality and spirit within the team.

You made a driver change ahead of the race in Singapore, replacing Pedro de la Rosa with Nick Heidfeld. With the benefit of hindsight, would you make the same decision again?

Yes, I would. We were in a situation where we didn’t know how far we had come in terms of performance. Both drivers were new to the team, we didn’t know them very well and we didn’t know how good the car was. What we were missing was a reliable benchmark. We know Nick well after working with him for many years, and that allowed us to gauge the progress of various elements.

How happy are you with Kamui Kobayashi?

Kamui inspires us all within the team. His refreshing, attacking style really puts a smile on your face. You can tell from reactions in the stands that the Formula One fans love him too; his overtaking moves are always great to watch. However, it would be doing him an injustice to only focus on this aspect of his driving. Kamui is also a very clever driver and understands how to put a pre-defined strategy into action. He’s progressed wonderfully well this year and I’m certain that there’s more to come from him in the future. When I signed him a year ago, I had to put up with critical comments from some experts. But my gut feeling told me that Kamui was something special. And today I’m just delighted to have him in the team.

This year coming you’ll be lining up with Sergio Pérez – a rookie – and Kamui Kobayashi, who only has a year’s experience in Formula One behind him. Is that not something of a risk?

I’m confident that we’re going into next year in good shape from a driver point of view. Kamui has also made big steps forward this year on the technical side of things, and I have no doubt that he will continue to grow with his new responsibility. Sergio is brimming with talent. For him, it’s a question of learning quickly. Here, he can pick things up from Kamui in the same way that Kamui did from Pedro and Nick. Plus, it’s worth remembering that 2001 was one of the most successful years to date for Sauber – and that season we had a rookie by the name of Kimi Räikkönen alongside Nick, who was in only his second year in F1, as our drivers.”

Will Kamui Kobayashi then automatically be the team’s number one?

There’s no number one driver in our team; the drivers will be given equal treatment in every respect. But, of course, I’m expecting Kamui to bring his extra experience into play.

How is the development of the new car progressing?

The development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari is running according to plan. We’re setting our sights high, and things are looking good so far. James Key has proved in the past that he knows how to build fast cars. All the changes to the technical regulations – including the ban on double diffusers, the introduction of Pirelli tyres, adjustable rear wings and the option of using KERS – make this a particularly exacting challenge this year.

A lot has been written about the team being up for sale. What’s the current situation?

I own 100 percent of the team and there are at present no plans to sell the team or any part of it. Our partnership with Telmex, which will come into force on 1st January 2011, does not include any kind of stakeholding and is purely a sponsoring agreement.

How long will you stay on as team boss?

A year ago I said that I didn’t want to remain on the pit wall when I turned 70. That’s still the case, and I’m now 67. The critical thing for me is to ensure that we bring even greater stability to the team and that we have a financial basis on which to move forward from a sporting point of view. When that is in place, the time will have come for me to take a step back.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Monday 27 April 2015

  2. Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 3 05:07

    Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 3

    Marcus Ericsson goes on a tour of the Sauber factory in Hinwil, in the third part of the team's documentary.

    F1
  3. Sunday 26 April 2015

  4. Newgarden gets maiden win at thrilling Alabama GP 22:55

    Newgarden gets maiden win at thrilling Alabama GP

    Josef Newgarden has won the first race of his Verizon IndyCar Series career in thrilling fashion at Barber Motorsports Park. …

    Indy
  5. Todt and delegates safe after Nepal earthquake 15:31

    Todt and delegates safe after Nepal earthquake

    The FIA has confirmed that its delegates - including President Jean Todt - are safe and accounted for after an earthquake…

    F1
  6. Schumacher Jr. wins on debut F4 weekend 15:00

    Schumacher Jr. wins on debut F4 weekend

    Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael, has taken the first single-seater victory of his career in…

    Misc
  7. Button sets personal best at London Marathon 14:42

    Button sets personal best at London Marathon

    McLaren driver Jenson Button set his new personal best time at the London Marathon on Sunday. Button, running for Cancer…

    F1
  8. 13:48

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Sunday at Aragón

    FR 3.5
  9. Vaxivière beats de Vries at wet Aragón 13:45

    Vaxivière beats de Vries at wet Aragón

    Lotus driver Matthieu Vaxivière claimed a last-gasp victory over Nyck de Vries during a wet second race of the weekend at…

    FR 3.5
  10. Feature: What's gone wrong for Red Bull? 09:27

    Feature: What's gone wrong for Red Bull?

    Red Bull has endured its worst start to a season since emerging as a credible force in 2009. There is one pressing area where…

    F1
  11. Video of the Day: Button in tricycle race 05:22

    Video of the Day: Button in tricycle race

    McLaren-Honda driver Jenson Button takes on BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James in a tricycle race.

    F1
  12. Saturday 25 April 2015

  13. Castroneves outruns the rain to win Alabama pole 23:08

    Castroneves outruns the rain to win Alabama pole

    Hélio Castroneves put in a quick lap early in the third qualifying session to beat the oncoming rain (and his team-mates) to…

    Indy
  14. Márquez has surgery for finger injury 20:36

    Márquez has surgery for finger injury

    MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez has undergone successful surgery to treat a fracture of his little finger on his left…

    MotoGP
  15. Daly gets Schmidt seat for Indianapolis 14:29

    Daly gets Schmidt seat for Indianapolis

    Conor Daly will make a return to the Indianapolis 500 this year after signing a deal to race for Schmidt Peterson…

    Indy
  16. 14:20

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Saturday at Aragón

    FR 3.5
  17. Rowland wins FR3.5 opener at Aragón 14:18

    Rowland wins FR3.5 opener at Aragón

    Oliver Rowland claimed victory in the opening Formula Renault 3.5 race of the year at MotorLand Aragón despite not leading a…

    FR 3.5
  18. Hamilton named wealthiest UK sportsman 09:05

    Hamilton named wealthiest UK sportsman

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton has been named as the wealthiest sportsman in Britain in the Sunday Times Sport Rich List. The…

    F1
  19. Video of the Day: Alonso on F1 journey 05:16

    Video of the Day: Alonso on F1 journey

    McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso discusses his Formula 1 journey with the BBC.

    F1
  20. Friday 24 April 2015

  21. 17:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  22. Force India: Let teams choose tyre compounds 16:37

    Force India: Let teams choose tyre compounds

    Force India's Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, has suggested that teams should be allowed to select their two preferred…

    F1
  23. Video: Tour of Monaco with Sam Bird 15:37

    Video: Tour of Monaco with Sam Bird

    Sam Bird takes you through a lap of Monaco ahead of the upcoming ePrix in the principality on May 9.

    FE
  24. Van der Garde's manager downplays Manor talk 14:05

    Van der Garde's manager downplays Manor talk

    Giedo van der Garde's management team has played down talk of a return to Formula 1 with Manor Marussia, insisting that although…

    F1
  25. Marko: Ricciardo of same calibre as Vettel 11:35

    Marko: Ricciardo of same calibre as Vettel

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has backed Daniel Ricciardo to lead the team's recovery, claiming that he is of the same calibre…

    F1
  26. Regalia, Comtec split after three days 10:22

    Regalia, Comtec split after three days

    Comtec Racing has been left without any drivers for the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 season, after its recent deal…

    FR 3.5
  27. Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 2 05:12

    Video of the Day: Sauber's ReSTART - Part 2

    Marcus Ericsson gets to know Sauber in the second part of the team's special inside documentary.

    F1
  28. Thursday 23 April 2015

  29. Verstappen eager for swift points return 18:03

    Verstappen eager for swift points return

    Max Verstappen is keen to return to the points when Formula 1 arrives in Europe next month. The Toro Rosso rookie scored his…

    F1
  30. Lotus invites fans to Brands filming day 17:30

    Lotus invites fans to Brands filming day

    Lotus has invited fans to watch from the trackside at its Brands Hatch filming event on Monday. Race drivers Romain Grosjean…

    F1
  31. Horner: No short-term fixes for Red Bull 14:11

    Horner: No short-term fixes for Red Bull

    Christian Horner has conceded that there will be no short-term fixes for Red Bull this season, as the squad continues to…

    F1
  32. Vettel becomes ADAC Formula 4 patron 12:18

    Vettel becomes ADAC Formula 4 patron

    Four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel has been announced as a patron of the ADAC automobile club's new Formula 4…

    F1
  33. 10:41

    Photos: Red Bull's show run in Vienna

    F1
  34. Video: Ricciardo demos F1 car in Austria 10:36

    Video: Ricciardo demos F1 car in Austria

    Watch as Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo showcases the team's RB8 on the streets of Vienna, Austria.

    F1
  35. González set for IndyCar debut with Coyne 09:50

    González set for IndyCar debut with Coyne

    Ex-Formula 1 test driver Rodolfo González will make his IndyCar debut with Dale Coyne Racing at this weekend's Barber…

    Indy
  36. Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver' 05:06

    Video of the Day: Sauber's 'Ask the Driver'

    Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr answer questions posed by fans of the team.

    F1
  37. Wednesday 22 April 2015

  38. De Vries eyes McLaren seat for 2017 20:59

    De Vries eyes McLaren seat for 2017

    McLaren young driver Nyck de Vries has set his sights on securing a race seat with the Honda-powered Formula 1 outfit for the…

    F1
  39. Video: Formula E – the season so far 14:32

    Video: Formula E – the season so far

    Relive the first half of the inaugural Formula E season, which produced six different winners in six races.

    FE
  40. Pirelli confirms tyres for next four races 12:39

    Pirelli confirms tyres for next four races

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has named its compound nominations for the upcoming Spanish, Monaco, Canadian and Austrian…

    F1
  41. Pedrosa 'responding well' after surgery 11:33

    Pedrosa 'responding well' after surgery

    Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says he is "responding well" after undergoing surgery for his persistent arm pump issues earlier…

    MotoGP
  42. 10:04

    Gallery: Best photos from the Bahrain GP

    F1
  43. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Bahrain 09:14

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Bahrain

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net's race-by-race series, Story Behind the Shot, continues throughout…

    F1
  44. Video of the Day: Nico Rosberg's Bahrain blog 05:04

    Video of the Day: Nico Rosberg's Bahrain blog

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg answers questions posed by fans in his usual post-race video blog.

    F1
  45. Tuesday 21 April 2015

  46. Regalia switches to Comtec for FR3.5 opener 16:18

    Regalia switches to Comtec for FR3.5 opener

    Facu Regalia has confirmed that he will drive for Comtec Racing at this weekend's Formula Renault 3.5 Series opener at MotorLand…

    FR 3.5
  47. Video: Grand Prix of Long Beach highlights 14:09

    Video: Grand Prix of Long Beach highlights

    Watch the highlights from the third round of the IndyCar season at Long Beach, won by Scott Dixon.

    Indy
more news