Exclusive interview with Monisha Kaltenborn

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?

It's true that the car was too heavy and that of course has a direct impact on your lap time. We know how many kilos mean what in terms of lap time, depending on the circuit. It was a very big handicap. But if I compare things with last year, I am convinced that the base of the car is good. We have also sees that to have a good performance this year a lot depends on how competitive, aside from reliability, your powertrain is. We saw in the first few races that one powertrain definitely has an advantage compared to the others and the teams using that powertrain are benefiting from that directly. I expect that in due course there will be changes. We definitely won't give up on this season and with the packages we are bringing together with improvements of our engine supplier we do hope to come back.

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…

We have plans in place with all them. They all have very specific functions. We first have to look at this year and then we'll see what the future brings. The roles are very clearly defined. We have our two race drivers, we have a test and reserve driver, which is Giedo, we have a test driver, which is Sergey. With him our aim is still to prepare him for his way into Formula 1. Now, however, he has to focus on another series. He has to show his talent there. And he's very young, so we are not under time pressure there. Then we have Simona, who is a so-called affiliated driver. She's taken up a very different challenge compared to the others. She has a lot of racing experience in the US and taking the step from the US to here is a very challenging one. So now it's important that each one of them concentrates on what they are supposed to be doing. And then we will see what happens.

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?

We are still in, I would say, a challenging situation, but we are step by step getting out of it. It's certainly not easy, particularly this season, where so many more costs have come onboard, particularly with the new powertrain and associated systems. It is very challenging still. The important thing is that we are working on getting out of it and the direction is right. It just takes some time. Sometimes you can't push things more. You need to be patient and make sure you are moving little by little.

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.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Wednesday 1 October 2014

  2. Video: Pirelli's guide to the Japanese GP 18:05

    Video: Pirelli's guide to the Japanese GP

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli previews this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

    F1
  3. Hugo Boss switches from McLaren to Mercedes 17:15

    Hugo Boss switches from McLaren to Mercedes

    Hugo Boss will become a team partner of the Mercedes Formula 1 team next season, it has been confirmed. The announcement,...

    F1
  4. Viñales: I thought Suzuki approach was a joke 16:18

    Viñales: I thought Suzuki approach was a joke

    Maverick Viñales says "it felt like it was a joke" when he was first approached by Suzuki to join the Japanese manufacturer...

    MotoGP
  5. Räikkönen 'finally' has good feeling with car 15:05

    Räikkönen 'finally' has good feeling with car

    Kimi Räikkönen is in an optimistic frame of mind ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix after finally finding the sweet spot with h...

    F1
  6. Column: 'The rise and rise' of Max Verstappen 14:30

    Column: 'The rise and rise' of Max Verstappen

    Just a year ago Max Verstappen was the man to beat in the international karting scene. This weekend he will make his Friday...

    F1
  7. Video: Rosberg previews the Japanese GP 13:30

    Video: Rosberg previews the Japanese GP

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg looks ahead to this weekend's Japanese round at Suzuka.

    F1
  8. Sauber ceases de Silvestro driving programme 13:00

    Sauber ceases de Silvestro driving programme

    Sauber has terminated Simona de Silvestro's driving programme due to "financial reasons on her side", the team has confirmed...

    F1
  9. Honda: No decision yet on 2015 drivers 12:55

    Honda: No decision yet on 2015 drivers

    McLaren has not yet made a decision on its driver line-up for 2015, Honda's Head of Motorsport Yasuhisa Arai has...

    F1
  10. Petrucci signs two-year deal with Pramac 12:34

    Petrucci signs two-year deal with Pramac

    Danilo Petrucci will join the Pramac Racing Team next season, linking up with Yonny Hernández. The 23-year-old Italian,...

    MotoGP
  11. Salo named as Suzuka driver steward 11:30

    Salo named as Suzuka driver steward

    Mika Salo will be the FIA driver steward for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Salo, who is a regular in the...

    F1
  12. Honda reveals first image of new F1 engine 10:36

    Honda reveals first image of new F1 engine

    Honda has released the first image of its 2015 Formula 1 power unit on the eve of this weekend's Japanese Grand...

    F1
  13. Stewart: Verstappen can be a superstar 09:52

    Stewart: Verstappen can be a superstar

    Sir Jackie Stewart believes Max Verstappen can be a "young superstar", providing the 17-year-old can deal with the pressure...

    F1
  14. Kobayashi keeps Caterham seat for Suzuka 08:18

    Kobayashi keeps Caterham seat for Suzuka

    Kamui Kobayashi will retain his Caterham seat for his home race at Suzuka this weekend, alongside regular driver Marcus...

    F1
  15. Suzuka memories: Häkkinen vs Schumacher 05:04

    Suzuka memories: Häkkinen vs Schumacher

    Relive the final battle between Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher during the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix. Schumacher,...

    F1
  16. Tuesday 30 September 2014

  17. Renault braced for engine penalties 16:03

    Renault braced for engine penalties

    Renault says it is braced for a spate of engine penalties in the closing stages of the 2014 season. Toro Rosso rookie...

    F1
  18. 14:30

    MotoGP photos: Suzuki presents 2015 bike

    MotoGP
  19. Suzuki signs Aleix Espargaró, Viñales for 2015 13:28

    Suzuki signs Aleix Espargaró, Viñales for 2015

    Suzuki has signed Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales for its comeback MotoGP season in 2015. The Japanese manufacturer,...

    MotoGP
  20. Video: Force India drivers preview Suzuka 11:59

    Video: Force India drivers preview Suzuka

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez preview the Japanese Grand Prix.

    F1
  21. Ferrari 'determined' to overhaul Williams 11:55

    Ferrari 'determined' to overhaul Williams

    Ferrari says it is "determined" to reclaim third in the Constructors' standings during the season run-in. With five...

    F1
  22. Formula E chief outlines manufacturer plan 11:33

    Formula E chief outlines manufacturer plan

    Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag has set out plans for the new all-electric championship to progressively move away from its...

    Formula E
  23. Button says McLaren on 'upward curve' 10:03

    Button says McLaren on 'upward curve'

    Jenson Button believes that his McLaren team is on an "upward curve" with the development of the MP4-29 chassis, even though...

    F1
  24. Suzuka memories: Senna, Prost collide, 1990 05:07

    Suzuka memories: Senna, Prost collide, 1990

    A year after their infamous clash as McLaren team-mates, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost collide at the first corner of the...

    F1
  25. Monday 29 September 2014

  26. Video: Sainz Jr. inspects shopping mall 16:24

    Video: Sainz Jr. inspects shopping mall

    Carlos Sainz Jr. carries out a unique inspection of the Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi ahead of its opening in November.

    F1
  27. Penske adds Pagenaud as fourth driver 15:25

    Penske adds Pagenaud as fourth driver

    Simon Pagenaud will drive a fourth Penske car in 2015, the reigning champion team has announced. The 30-year-old...

    Indy
  28. Video: Rossi crashes out at Aragón 14:09

    Video: Rossi crashes out at Aragón

    Valentino Rossi avoided serious injury during this violent crash in Sunday's Aragón Grand Prix.

    MotoGP
  29. Rossi back to '100 per cent' after crash 13:55

    Rossi back to '100 per cent' after crash

    Valentino Rossi says he is already feeling "100 per cent" again after his Aragón Grand Prix crash. The works Yamaha rider...

    MotoGP
  30. Hamilton yearning for first Suzuka win 11:58

    Hamilton yearning for first Suzuka win

    Lewis Hamilton has his sights fixed on claiming his first ever victory at the Suzuka circuit this weekend. Although...

    F1
  31. Verstappen confirmed for Suzuka practice 11:19

    Verstappen confirmed for Suzuka practice

    Toro Rosso has confirmed that future racer Max Verstappen will drive at a Formula 1 event for the first time this weekend,...

    F1
  32. Single DRS zone retained at Suzuka 11:11

    Single DRS zone retained at Suzuka

    The FIA has retained a single DRS zone for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. As in previous years at the Suzuka...

    F1
  33. Force India continuing to develop VJM07 10:49

    Force India continuing to develop VJM07

    Force India boss Vijay Mallya says the team will continue to develop the VJM07 chassis over the closing stages of the 2014...

    F1
  34. Verstappen passes extensive medical tests 09:41

    Verstappen passes extensive medical tests

    Max Verstappen has passed an extensive medical evaluation as preparations ramp up for his maiden Formula 1 campaign with...

    F1
  35. Suzuka memories: Räikkönen's last-lap pass 05:12

    Suzuka memories: Räikkönen's last-lap pass

    Kimi Räikkönen claimed victory at Suzuka in 2005 with this stunning last-lap move on Giancarlo Fisichella.

    F1
  36. Sunday 28 September 2014

  37. 17:05

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Aragón

    MotoGP
  38. Rossi suffers concussion in Aragón crash 16:22

    Rossi suffers concussion in Aragón crash

    Valentino Rossi suffered a concussion but escaped serious injury following his crash in the Aragón Grand Prix on...

    MotoGP
  39. Lorenzo wins epic dry-wet race at Aragón 13:53

    Lorenzo wins epic dry-wet race at Aragón

    Jorge Lorenzo claimed his first win of 2014 in an epic dry-wet race at MotorLand Aragón after Repsol Honda riders Marc...

    MotoGP
  40. 12:51

    Latest FR3.5 photos: Sunday at Paul Ricard

    FR 3.5
  41. Sainz Jr. inches towards title with seventh win 12:50

    Sainz Jr. inches towards title with seventh win

    Red Bull young driver Carlos Sainz Jr. controlled proceedings at Paul Ricard to claim his second win of the weekend and move...

    FR 3.5
  42. Caterham has performed a small miracle – Ravetto 10:24

    Caterham has performed a small miracle – Ravetto

    Caterham Team Principal Manfredi Ravetto believes that the squad has achieved a "small miracle" in 2014, following the...

    F1
  43. Lotus pair hopeful of more 2014 points 07:28

    Lotus pair hopeful of more 2014 points

    Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado say that they have not ruled out adding to the squad's points tally...

    F1
  44. Video of the Day: F1 in every Renault – Umbrella 05:04

    Video of the Day: F1 in every Renault – Umbrella

    Unsuspecting Renault drivers experience the sensation of being on a Formula 1 starting grid.

    F1
more news