Exclusive interview with Monisha Kaltenborn
20 May 2014 – Sauber has endured a challenging start to the 2014 Formula 1 campaign, ending the first five races as one of just three outfits, alongside Marussia and Caterham, without a World Championship point. GPUpdate.net sat down with team boss Monisha Kaltenborn to discuss the past, present and future.
From your point of view, how has the season been going for Sauber?
Well, it's been a tough start. We are clearly not where we want to be. We could see that in the tests when we were having our issues. We put a plan together with what we want to do and we are implanting that step by step. So we've been doing for the last three races, but we did have a bigger package in place for Spain.
We understand the car was too heavy. How much of a difference does this extra weight make?
Are you happy with the performance of your drivers, Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez?
We first have to concentrate on where the team stands. We are not where we want to be and the races have been quite challenging for us. The drivers have been in all sorts of incidents they did not cause themselves. I think we now have to have a little bit more of experience where everything more or less goes the way we want to. When we have everything in the right place, then it's maybe time to think about how the drivers perform.
What do you make of new reserve driver Giedo van der Garde?
I'm very impressed with the way Giedo has adapted. The positive outlook he brings and the openness are very important in seasons like this when the cars are so fundamentally different to what they were before. He didn't have any time in the car and the moment he came in there and did the test, he very quickly learned the way to drive it, adapted very well to the new systems and started step by step to improve. That tells you how comfortable he is with the car. He gives very good feedback which has been invaluable to the race drivers and the engineers who work on developing the car. We have been very positively surprised about what he's showing.
Giedo's goal is to race for Sauber in 2015. Do you see him as a big candidate?
As our test driver he is getting his experience in our car. Let's first see a bit more this season. When the time is right we will decide who will our drivers next year.
Besides Giedo, you also have Simona de Silvestro and Sergey Sirotkin in your talent pool. Both Simona and Sergey are being prepared for a race seat in Formula 1. It seems like the team has a shortage of race seats…
Simona recently had her first test. What would it mean to you to have a female driver on the grid?
For me personally I think it would be a great signal. There has been so much talk about female drivers. As a driver she definitely is one of the most outstanding candidates to take up this kind of a position and I guess to be competitive. It's great to watch her and very interesting to see how focused she is and how well prepared she was for the test. She listens to the engineers and tries to learn instantly and implement it, which also shows how she's getting better. We have a very exciting project with her and I think it would be good for the sport.
Sergey made his Formula 1 debut last year with a demo run in Sochi. What is the current situation there? There are some rumours that the race will be cancelled?
I don't know anything about that. In my view it is going ahead and we don't have any information to the contrary.
Sauber took on some Russian partners last year. How's the team doing this year financially?
What is possible in terms of results this season?
It's very difficult to predict right now, because as I said, a lot at the moment depends on the powertrain, aside from your reliability. I do hope that in due course the gap between the different powertrains becomes a little bit smaller and that we will see some changes on that side. So it's very difficult to predict right now.
Mercedes is dominating right now. Will any team be able to catch them this year?
It will be very tough. They have a very big competitive advantage. So it will not be easy.