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Q&A with Monisha Kaltenborn

NEWS STORY
17/10/2012

With a total of four podium places so far, Sauber has enjoyed a successful 2012 season. The forthcoming Indian Grand Prix takes Monisha Kaltenborn, the first female team principal in Formula One, to her native country.

Your passport gives your full name as Monisha Kaltenborn Narang. Why do you so rarely use your double surname?
"I really like my Indian name. My Indian heritage and my parents' family mean a great deal to me, which is why I never wanted to give up Narang. On the other hand, you have to admit that double-barrelled names aren't very practical in day-to-day business operations. That's why I only rarely use my full name."

What does the Indian Grand Prix mean to you?
"Well, I really have to distinguish between the professional and the private side. From the sports point of view, as far as the Sauber F1 Team is concerned the Indian GP is a race like any other, with the same meticulous preparations and the same aspiration to achieve the best possible result.

From a personal point of view, it's rather different. Obviously I'm particularly looking forward to this race in my home country. As I travel to all the grands prix as part of my job, I don't have time for private trips to India. During my school and university days I would go there regularly. My husband Jens and I celebrated our marriage in India with a fabulous and very happy Hindu ritual. I feel very attached to India."

Will you be seeing friends or family during the grand prix?
"I won't really have time for private visits during this year's race, but I'll be flying out at least a day early to spend some time looking around New Delhi and attending various media events. I'm also involved as an ambassador for the FIA's Women in Motorsports Commission, as well as an event by the F1 in Schools initiative."

Which memories do you associate with India?
"Oh, undoubtedly my wonderful childhood. Since I was their only grandchild for a long time, my grandparents spoilt me rotten, and we had three delightful dogs. Up to the age of eight I attended Welham Girls' High School in Dehradun, my birthplace and one of the oldest and most traditional cities in the north of this vast country. It was a very happy time with marvellous friendships. Then in 1979 my parents decided to emigrate to give me a better education."

What made your parents decide on Austria?
"Originally the plan was to find a new home in an English-speaking country. But Vienna was the first stop on our journey because an uncle of my father's was working at the atomic agency there. We liked it and so we stayed. I was sent straight to an Austrian rather than an international school, so I learnt the language very quickly and became integrated. I also completed my law studies in Vienna and took on Austrian citizenship, which had many advantages. And of course I have a lot of ties with Austria. I've spent a considerable part of my life there, after all."

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