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 June 2016

  2. 17:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  3. Wolff: Mercedes' competition 'growing' 16:32

    Wolff: Mercedes' competition 'growing'

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has urged the squad to cut out mistakes at upcoming Grands Prix to deal with "growing" competition from…

    F1
  4. McLaren focused on reliability, points return 15:12

    McLaren focused on reliability, points return

    McLaren-Honda's focus at the Austrian Grand Prix will be on improved reliability and a return to the points-paying positions…

    F1
  5. Hamilton keen to 'tick off' Austria victory 14:32

    Hamilton keen to 'tick off' Austria victory

    Lewis Hamilton says he is keen to "tick off" the Austrian Grand Prix from his list of Formula 1 victories after finishing as…

    F1
  6. Sette Câmara to test for Toro Rosso 13:58

    Sette Câmara to test for Toro Rosso

    Red Bull youngster Sérgio Sette Câmara will drive for Toro Rosso at the post-British Grand Prix test. Brazilian racer Sette…

    F1
  7. Redding delighted with return to podium 12:38

    Redding delighted with return to podium

    Pramac Ducati rider Scott Redding hailed an "amazing" result at the Dutch TT as he finished on the podium for the second time in…

    MotoGP
  8. Video: Chandhok onboard at Goodwood 11:33

    Video: Chandhok onboard at Goodwood

    Ride onboard with Williams Heritage Driver Karun Chandhok as he pilots the FW08C at Goodwood.

    F1
  9. Rosberg eyes third straight Austrian GP win 11:19

    Rosberg eyes third straight Austrian GP win

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has set his sights on securing a third successive Austrian Grand Prix victory at this year's event…

    F1
  10. Assen hints at potential Formula 1 interest 09:28

    Assen hints at potential Formula 1 interest

    Assen has indicated that it would be interested in hosting Formula 1 in the future, should a Dutch Grand Prix make a return…

    F1
  11. Salo tips Bottas to end up at Mercedes 08:32

    Salo tips Bottas to end up at Mercedes

    Mika Salo says he is "pretty sure" that fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas will make the move to Mercedes later in his Formula 1…

    F1
  12. Video of the Day: Testing Fangio's cars 05:00

    Video of the Day: Testing Fangio's cars

    Formula E's Bruno Senna and Jérôme d'Ambrosio tries some of Juan Manuel Fangio's cars in Argentina.

    FE
  13. Sunday 26 June 2016

  14. Power outduels Kanaan to Road America win 21:01

    Power outduels Kanaan to Road America win

    Will Power won a dramatic and frenetic shootout at the end of IndyCar's return to the legendary Road America circuit on…

    Indy
  15. 18:12

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Assen

    MotoGP
  16. Lorenzo considered withdrawing at Assen 18:11

    Lorenzo considered withdrawing at Assen

    Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo has admitted he considered withdrawing from the Dutch TT as he struggled for performance…

    MotoGP
  17. Márquez lauds 'important' Dutch TT result 16:21

    Márquez lauds 'important' Dutch TT result

    Honda rider Marc Márquez hailed an "important" race at the Dutch TT as he opened up a solid advantage in the MotoGP…

    MotoGP
  18. Espargaró secures two-year Aprilia switch 16:12

    Espargaró secures two-year Aprilia switch

    Aprilia has confirmed that Aleix Espargaró will ride for the team in 2017 and 2018, alongside Sam Lowes, meaning the outfit…

    MotoGP
  19. Miller ecstatic to reward Honda's faith 15:55

    Miller ecstatic to reward Honda's faith

    Jack Miller says his shock maiden MotoGP victory justifies Honda's faith in him graduating from Moto3 straight to the premier…

    MotoGP
  20. Delétraz triumphs in second Paul Ricard race 15:12

    Delétraz triumphs in second Paul Ricard race

    Louis Delétraz narrowed the gap to championship leader Tom Dillmann as he claimed his second Formula V8 3.5 victory of the…

    FV8 3.5
  21. Miller takes shock maiden win at Assen 14:25

    Miller takes shock maiden win at Assen

    Marc VDS rider Jack Miller claimed a shock maiden MotoGP victory during a thrilling topsy-turvy race at a wet Assen, despite…

    MotoGP
  22. Hamilton: Rosberg relationship 'really good' 10:51

    Hamilton: Rosberg relationship 'really good'

    Lewis Hamilton has described his current relationship with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg as "really good" and reckons it has…

    F1
  23. Stroll builds lead with double Norisring win 10:02

    Stroll builds lead with double Norisring win

    Williams development driver Lance Stroll cemented his advantage at the top of the F3 standings by winning twice and finishing…

    F3
  24. Renault sees back row as a 'one-off' 09:08

    Renault sees back row as a 'one-off'

    Renault's back-row qualifying result at last weekend's European Grand Prix in Baku has been described as a "one-off" occurrence…

    F1
  25. Video of the Day: Hamilton's Green Hell 05:24

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's Green Hell

    In a trailer for Mercedes' new AMG GT-R, Lewis Hamilton tackles a different version of the 'Green Hell'.

    F1
  26. Saturday 25 June 2016

  27. 22:38

    IndyCar photos: Saturday at Road America

    Indy
  28. Power secures pole at Road America 22:36

    Power secures pole at Road America

    Will Power calmly cruised to pole position at Road America on Saturday, staying 0.16s clear of the Ganassi duo of Scott Dixon…

    Indy
  29. MotoGP to ban winglets from 2017 17:18

    MotoGP to ban winglets from 2017

    The Grand Prix Commission has elected to ban the use of winglets in MotoGP from the start of the 2017 season. The aerodynamic…

    MotoGP
  30. Lorenzo 'didn't feel safe' in wet conditions 16:57

    Lorenzo 'didn't feel safe' in wet conditions

    Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo admitted that he "didn't feel safe or comfortable" riding in wet conditions as he…

    MotoGP
  31. Orudzhev keeps Nissany at bay for win 15:51

    Orudzhev keeps Nissany at bay for win

    Egor Orudzhev resisted a late attack from Roy Nissany to collect his second win of the Formula V8 3.5 season at Paul…

    FV8 3.5
  32. Video: Road America practice highlights 14:34

    Video: Road America practice highlights

    Watch highlights from practice as IndyCar returns to Road America for this weekend's Kohler Grand Prix.

    Indy
  33. 14:00

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Assen

    MotoGP
  34. Dovizioso takes pole at damp Assen 13:59

    Dovizioso takes pole at damp Assen

    Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso claimed his first pole position of the season after storming to top spot during qualifying for the…

    MotoGP
  35. Assen gets 10-year MotoGP extension 11:17

    Assen gets 10-year MotoGP extension

    MotoGP organisers have confirmed that Assen will continue to host the Dutch TT until at least 2026 after a new 10-year deal was…

    MotoGP
  36. FIA moves to reward 'safer' drivers 10:36

    FIA moves to reward 'safer' drivers

    Drivers who avoid collecting penalty points in FIA-organised categories will be rewarded with points towards their Formula 1…

    F1
  37. Celis Jr. set for Austria practice run 10:04

    Celis Jr. set for Austria practice run

    Force India development driver Alfonso Celis Jr. will return to the cockpit of the VJM09 during Friday practice for next…

    F1
  38. Dovizioso tops third Dutch TT practice 09:51

    Dovizioso tops third Dutch TT practice

    Andrea Dovizioso maintained Ducati's position at the head of the field for the Dutch TT during a tightly-contested third…

    MotoGP
  39. Feature: Who should partner Vettel in 2017? 09:22

    Feature: Who should partner Vettel in 2017?

    With Nico Rosberg set to extend his stay at Mercedes, the key to this year's driver market appears to revolve around Ferrari…

    F1
  40. IndyCar confirms revised Texas plan 07:50

    IndyCar confirms revised Texas plan

    IndyCar officials have confirmed plans for resuming the Firestone 600, which will take place at the Texas Motor Speedway at the…

    Indy
  41. Video of the Day: 'Ferraristi per Sempre' 05:26

    Video of the Day: 'Ferraristi per Sempre'

    Earlier this week, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene were present at the opening of the new…

    F1
  42. Friday 24 June 2016

  43. 18:32

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Assen

    MotoGP
  44. Rossi to use standard frame at Assen 18:24

    Rossi to use standard frame at Assen

    Valentino Rossi has dropped Yamaha's new frame for the remainder of the Dutch TT, after testing it in practice, while team-mate…

    MotoGP
more news