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. Friday 26 May 2017

  2. 10:00

    Starting grid for Monaco F2 Feature Race

    F2
  3. Hülkenberg 'scratching head' over pace 09:01

    Hülkenberg 'scratching head' over pace

    Nico Hülkenberg says he was left "scratching my head" over Renault's lack of pace during Thursday's practice sessions for the…

    F1
  4. Monaco: Why is there no F1 action on Friday? 08:48

    Monaco: Why is there no F1 action on Friday?

    The Formula 1 fraternity heads into Friday at a Grand Prix weekend but in Monaco there is no track action from motorsport's top…

    F1
  5. Rossi injured in motocross training crash 07:04

    Rossi injured in motocross training crash

    Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi is recovering after sustaining mild injuries in a motocross training accident on Thursday…

    MotoGP
  6. Video of the Day: Red Bull's dominant RB7 05:42

    Video of the Day: Red Bull's dominant RB7

    Winning 12/19 races in the 2011 season, the Red Bull RB7 is considered to be one of the most dominant cars in Formula 1 history.…

    F1
  7. Thursday 25 May 2017

  8. 18:28

    Follow GPUpdate on Instagram in 2017!

    F1
  9. 18:26

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday in Monaco

    F1
  10. Button 'had a little giggle' on F1 return 18:22

    Button 'had a little giggle' on F1 return

    Jenson Button says he "had a little giggle to myself" when he returned to Formula 1 action during practice for the Monaco Grand…

    F1
  11. Bourdais eyes return before end of season 18:07

    Bourdais eyes return before end of season

    Dale Coyne driver Sébastien Bourdais is hopeful he can return to the cockpit before the end of the season, after being…

    Indy
  12. 'STR must not get overexcited' - Kvyat 17:57

    'STR must not get overexcited' - Kvyat

    Daniil Kvyat says Toro Rosso must not get overexcited with its position towards the front of the Formula 1 pack during Thursday…

    F1
  13. Stroll's struggles same as on Playstation 17:18

    Stroll's struggles same as on Playstation

    Williams rookie Lance Stroll says he is struggling with the same sections of the Circuit de Monaco in real life as he does while…

    F1
  14. McLaren confirms it will stick with Honda 16:40

    McLaren confirms it will stick with Honda

    McLaren has made clear that its partnership with Honda will continue through the 2018 season, ending speculation of a switch to…

    F1
  15. Leclerc extends title lead with home pole 16:04

    Leclerc extends title lead with home pole

    Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc claimed pole position for his home event after topping Formula 2 qualifying in Monaco…

    F2
  16. Mercedes pins slump on set-up direction 15:58

    Mercedes pins slump on set-up direction

    Mercedes' tumble down the order from first to second practice in Monaco was a result of taking the wrong direction with set-up…

    F1
  17. Ricciardo feels Red Bull is 'in the window' 15:47

    Ricciardo feels Red Bull is 'in the window'

    Daniel Ricciardo reckons Red Bull is "in the window" to challenge at the Monaco Grand Prix after featuring towards the top of…

    F1
  18. Vettel still expects 'full force' Mercedes 15:23

    Vettel still expects 'full force' Mercedes

    Sebastian Vettel says he is still expecting a "full force" Mercedes at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, after its "weird…

    F1
  19. 14:36

    Monaco Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  20. Vettel dominates FP2, Mercedes quiet 14:33

    Vettel dominates FP2, Mercedes quiet

    Sebastian Vettel posted a pair of blistering laps to comfortably set the pace during Thursday's second practice session for the…

    F1
  21. Pirelli announces Hungary tyre compounds 13:35

    Pirelli announces Hungary tyre compounds

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has announced its compound choices for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Pirelli will bring the Super…

    F1
  22. 12:45

    Follow second practice for the Monaco GP!

    F1
  23. Video: Monaco GP carpool with Bottas 12:02

    Video: Monaco GP carpool with Bottas

    Go on a ride through the Monte-Carlo streets Formula 1-style with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas.

    F1
  24. 10:37

    Monaco Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  25. Hamilton sets record pace in first practice 10:32

    Hamilton sets record pace in first practice

    Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton topped Thursday's first practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix with the fastest ever lap around…

    F1
  26. Haas' new Formula 1 livery breaks cover 09:15

    Haas' new Formula 1 livery breaks cover

    Haas' updated Formula 1 livery has made its public debut, after Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen took to the circuit during…

    F1
  27. 08:42

    Follow first practice for the Monaco GP!

    F1
  28. 07:34

    Photos: IndyCar's universal 2018 body kit

    Indy
  29. IndyCar reveals new 2018 concept images 07:32

    IndyCar reveals new 2018 concept images

    IndyCar organisers have released several fresh, rendered images of the car that will be used by all series competitors during…

    Indy
  30. Palmer admits 'it's up to me to deliver now' 07:02

    Palmer admits 'it's up to me to deliver now'

    Renault driver Jolyon Palmer says it is now up to him to deliver points, following a difficult start to his second season in…

    F1
  31. Video of the Day: Ferrari on Monaco GP 05:38

    Video of the Day: Ferrari on Monaco GP

    Ahead of this weekend's action in the Principality, get Ferrari's lowdown on the Monaco Grand Prix.

    F1
  32. Wednesday 24 May 2017

  33. 18:04

    Latest F1 photos: Preparations in Monaco

    F1
  34. Vettel: Ferrari could have won all races 18:02

    Vettel: Ferrari could have won all races

    Sebastian Vettel reckons Ferrari had the potential to win all five races so far this season, but nonetheless feels that "we got…

    F1
  35. Drivers criticise new 'take-off ramp' kerb 17:43

    Drivers criticise new 'take-off ramp' kerb

    Several Formula 1 drivers have criticised the revised kerb laid on the inside of the Turn 16 apex (the exit of Piscine) at the…

    F1
  36. Button tipped to return 'like duck to water' 17:38

    Button tipped to return 'like duck to water'

    Lewis Hamilton reckons Jenson Button will return to Formula 1 action "like a duck to water" when he takes part in this weekend's…

    F1
  37. In photos: Button's return to the paddock 17:27

    In photos: Button's return to the paddock

    Jenson Button will return to Formula 1 action this weekend at McLaren-Honda in place of Indianapolis-bound Fernando Alonso.…

    F1
  38. Force India introduces triple T-wing design 17:04

    Force India introduces triple T-wing design

    Force India has introduced a triple T-wing design for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, as teams chase as much downforce as…

    F1
  39. Hamilton: 2017 cars 'like taming a bull' 17:00

    Hamilton: 2017 cars 'like taming a bull'

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton had described the challenge of racing 2017 Formula 1 cars as akin to "taming a bull", following…

    F1
  40. Button thought testing would be 'useless' 14:30

    Button thought testing would be 'useless'

    McLaren-Honda stand-in Jenson Button insists he is happy with his preparations for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, claiming…

    F1
  41. Pérez eyes occasional Red Bull challenge 12:22

    Pérez eyes occasional Red Bull challenge

    Force India driver Sergio Pérez is hopeful that the team can occasionally challenge Red Bull in Formula 1 this year, following…

    F1
  42. 11:49

    Gallery: Monaco charity football match

    F1
  43. Video: 'Mini' Monaco Grand Prix guide 11:02

    Video: 'Mini' Monaco Grand Prix guide

    Get a 'mini' Monaco Grand Prix guide with Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

    F1
more news