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. Tuesday 21 October 2014

  2. 16:03

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  3. Silverstone senior executives suspended 13:55

    Silverstone senior executives suspended

    The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) has taken "a closer role" in the day-to-day running of Silverstone following the...

    F1
  4. Caterham insists team not threatened 12:25

    Caterham insists team not threatened

    Caterham has dismissed media reports suggesting that Caterham Sports Limited (CSL) being placed into administration will...

    F1
  5. Lotus mourns death of Total chief 11:08

    Lotus mourns death of Total chief

    Lotus says it has been left "shocked" and "deeply saddened" by the death of Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and CEO of team...

    F1
  6. Spa to fight Nissan's use of Eau Rouge name 09:50

    Spa to fight Nissan's use of Eau Rouge name

    The Spa-Francorchamps circuit says it will contest an application from car manufacturer Nissan to trademark "Eau...

    F1
  7. Video: Miami welcomes Formula E 09:30

    Video: Miami welcomes Formula E

    Watch as the track layout for the Miami ePrix, scheduled to take place on March 14 next year, is revealed.

    Formula E
  8. Miami reveals Formula E circuit layout 09:22

    Miami reveals Formula E circuit layout

    Miami has become the latest Formula E host to reveal its track layout for the electric championship. Produced by track...

    Formula E
  9. Pons retains Tunjo for 2015 FR3.5 season 09:07

    Pons retains Tunjo for 2015 FR3.5 season

    Pons Racing has confirmed that Óscar Tunjo will remain with the team in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series next year. The...

    FR 3.5
  10. Video of the Day: Nasr samples FW08C 05:11

    Video of the Day: Nasr samples FW08C

    Williams reserve Felipe Nasr sampled Keke Rosberg's 1983 FW08C at the team's Partner Day at Silverstone.

    F1
  11. Monday 20 October 2014

  12. Brawn, Domenicali on new Accident Panel 17:54

    Brawn, Domenicali on new Accident Panel

    Former Formula 1 team bosses Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali have joined the FIA's new Accident Panel, which has been put...

    F1
  13. Moscow Raceway earns licence for F1 races 17:14

    Moscow Raceway earns licence for F1 races

    Moscow Raceway has been granted an FIA Grade 1 licence, allowing it to stage Formula 1 races. The track, located some...

    Misc
  14. Wolff confirmed for Race Of Champions 15:04

    Wolff confirmed for Race Of Champions

    Susie Wolff will become the first female driver to compete at the Race Of Champions after signing up for this year's event...

    F1
  15. De Vries gets FR3.5 seat with DAMS 14:43

    De Vries gets FR3.5 seat with DAMS

    McLaren junior Nyck de Vries will compete in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with reigning champion team DAMS next...

    FR 3.5
  16. Lotus to trial new nose design at Austin 13:58

    Lotus to trial new nose design at Austin

    Lotus will test a new nose during practice for the United States Grand Prix, as the team looks to finalise its design for...

    F1
  17. Rossi says tyre choice crucial to victory 13:23

    Rossi says tyre choice crucial to victory

    Valentino Rossi says choosing the extra-soft Bridgestone front tyre was crucial to his second victory of the season at...

    MotoGP
  18. Force India retains Hülkenberg for 2015 10:08

    Force India retains Hülkenberg for 2015

    Force India has confirmed that Nico Hülkenberg will continue to race for the team next season. Hülkenberg, 27, returned t...

    F1
  19. Silverstone, Le Mans back on FR3.5 calendar 09:19

    Silverstone, Le Mans back on FR3.5 calendar

    The World Series by Renault package, which includes Formula Renault 3.5, will return to Silverstone and Le Mans next...

    FR 3.5
  20. Sainz Jr. elated by championship success 07:22

    Sainz Jr. elated by championship success

    Red Bull youngster Carlos Sainz Jr. hailed his "incredible" season after he succeeded Kevin Magnussen as Formula Renault 3.5...

    FR 3.5
  21. Video of the Day: Mercedes celebrates title 05:04

    Video of the Day: Mercedes celebrates title

    Mercedes celebrates its first Formula 1 Constructors' success at its bases in Brackley and Brixworth.

    F1
  22. Sunday 19 October 2014

  23. DTM champion Wittmann gets Toro Rosso test 20:39

    DTM champion Wittmann gets Toro Rosso test

    Marco Wittmann will receive a Formula 1 test with Toro Rosso as his reward from BMW for winning this year's DTM...

    DTM
  24. Verstappen ends F3 season in third place 17:11

    Verstappen ends F3 season in third place

    Future Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen has finished his sole FIA Formula 3 European campaign in third place after losing...

    F1
  25. Kubica: Formula 1 return would be a dream 14:30

    Kubica: Formula 1 return would be a dream

    Robert Kubica says he has not yet given up on the prospect of returning to Formula 1 at some point in the future and will...

    F1
  26. 13:38

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Sunday at Jerez

    FR 3.5
  27. Dominant Rowland wins FR3.5 finale at Jerez 13:37

    Dominant Rowland wins FR3.5 finale at Jerez

    Oliver Rowland claimed victory in the final race of the Formula Renault 3.5 season as he controlled proceedings throughout...

    FR 3.5
  28. 09:20

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Phillip Island

    MotoGP
  29. Márquez 'not on the limit' before crash 09:19

    Márquez 'not on the limit' before crash

    World Champion Marc Márquez says he was not riding on the limit when he crashed out of the lead in the Australian Grand Prix...

    MotoGP
  30. Rossi wins incident-packed race in Australia 06:50

    Rossi wins incident-packed race in Australia

    Valentino Rossi claimed his second win of the year in an incident-packed Australian Grand Prix after World Champion Marc...

    MotoGP
  31. Video of the Day: Pedrosa on Phillip Island 03:00

    Video of the Day: Pedrosa on Phillip Island

    Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa chose his fondest Phillip Island memory ahead of Sunday's race at the track.

    MotoGP
  32. Saturday 18 October 2014

  33. 13:52

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Saturday at Jerez

    FR 3.5
  34. Stevens wins, Sainz Jr. clinches title 13:51

    Stevens wins, Sainz Jr. clinches title

    Carlos Sainz Jr. clinched the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 championship at the very first corner of the final round in Jerez...

    FR 3.5
  35. Ecclestone: Las Vegas targeting Formula 1 race 09:32

    Ecclestone: Las Vegas targeting Formula 1 race

    Bernie Ecclestone says a Formula 1 race could be held on the streets of Las Vegas in the future. Ecclestone has long seen...

    F1
  36. 07:54

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Phillip Island

    MotoGP
  37. Márquez flies to pole position in Australia 06:21

    Márquez flies to pole position in Australia

    MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez claimed pole position for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island ahead of Ducati...

    MotoGP
  38. Video of the Day: Bottas let loose in FW18 05:07

    Video of the Day: Bottas let loose in FW18

    Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was given the opportunity to drive the FW18, Damon Hill's World Championship-winning car...

    F1
  39. Friday 17 October 2014

  40. Button will only stay in F1 with 'competitive' car 16:13

    Button will only stay in F1 with 'competitive' car

    Jenson Button could move to endurance racing if he fails to land a competitive Formula 1 seat for 2015. Fernando Alonso,...

    F1
  41. Andretti: Vettel can return Ferrari to the front 16:03

    Andretti: Vettel can return Ferrari to the front

    Former F1 World Champion Mario Andretti believes that Sebastian Vettel has what it takes to galvanise Ferrari and end the...

    F1
  42. Status GP takes over Caterham GP2 team 14:23

    Status GP takes over Caterham GP2 team

    Status Grand Prix has acquired the Caterham GP2 outfit from ex-F1 team boss Tony Fernandes. The squad will continue to...

    GP2
  43. Pirelli changes Brazil tyre nomination 12:15

    Pirelli changes Brazil tyre nomination

    Pirelli has altered its tyre nomination for next month's Brazilian Grand Prix, amid fears over safety. After initially...

    F1
  44. Fong, Nissany to test Sauber F1 car 11:36

    Fong, Nissany to test Sauber F1 car

    Adderly Fong and Roy Nissany will test a two-year-old Sauber Formula 1 car in Valencia next week. The team has set aside...

    F1
  45. Video: Räikkönen clinches 2007 title 11:32

    Video: Räikkönen clinches 2007 title

    Kimi Räikkönen celebrates his 35th birthday on Friday. To mark the occasion, look back at the moment the Finn clinched the 2...

    F1
more news