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Mr Nice Guy

NEWS STORY
28/03/2012

Mat Coch writes

Walking in to the paddock on the morning of the Australian Grand Prix Peter Sauber fell heavily. A shin high cable draped across the path in front of the veteran team owner tripped him. Undeterred he gathered himself up, dusted himself off, and carried on in to the paddock. He'd had harder knocks in life.

Australia was a promising but ultimately disappointing weekend. A badly timed safety car ruined Sergio Perez's race after the Mexican opted for one stop strategy while those around him pitted for fresh rubber. Kamui Kobayashi was nowhere to be seen. Still, points were scored and the team headed to Malaysia in good spirits.

In Malaysia, brandishing a splint on his wrist (presumably from his fall in Albert Park), Peter Sauber shed a tear. Sat on the Sauber pratt-perch, the term given to the pit wall command centres all the teams have, he was overcome by the enormity of the situation.

Sergio Perez had come second in an especially enthralling race, the 22-year-old confirming his promise and duly delivering when the opportunity presented itself. It could have been better but second is nothing to be sneezed at, and it was without doubt the best result the team has enjoyed for some time.

There are some that claim it is the teams best result ever, though that fails to acknowledge Robert Kubica's win in Canada in 2008. Sauber claims that the records achieved under BMW ownership belong to the Formula One team he established in 1993. "The company is now 42 years old," he argues. "It's the same company. There was a time when Ron Dennis had only 15% shares in McLaren, while I always had at least 20% or more (in Sauber). In all these years it's the same legal entity."

Sauber claimed fifth in its debut race in South Africa in 1993, a dream start for any new team. He spent upwards of $25million that year, a figure which has only grown since.

However recently there have been suggestions, brought about by the almost naked black and white livery the cars carry, that the team is struggling for cash. "It's interesting that this question is being asked," he says. "The questions are coming up now because Colin Kolles for some reason is feeding people with this information.

"Finances for us are always a difficult issue. I've been in Formula One for twenty years. Sometimes the questions come up, sometimes not. There are some teams in the paddock which seem to be struggling, which is quite normal under the circumstances.

"The problem is that if you want to be competitive, even in the midfield, you need a certain amount of money. The challenge is you have a certain requirement, and if you don't have the money you would like to achieve a certain performance, then you have to explain to people that they are not allowed to use what they want, particularly the engineers. And that's a challenge you always have.

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