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Kaltenborn: We can do better

NEWS STORY
17/05/2017

While most point to the '25 Years' logos that adorn the bodywork of the Sauber as an attempt to disguise the absence of a major sponsor, the fact is the Swiss team has been around for 25 years and over that time, despite the relative lack of success and spiralling costs, has seen rivals come and go.

"Coming from Switzerland we are known for keeping our secrets!" team boss and CEO, Monisha Kaltenborn tells the official F1 website. "But I think it has a lot to do with where we come from: you never give up, you need a certain stubbornness and you need to find your strength in the most difficult moments. And then rise again!"

In recent years, the Swiss outfit has slipped down the rankings to become a perennial backmarker, along with the Caterhams and Manors, and more recently McLaren. Consistently being in such a position cannot be fun.

"Not at all," she admits. "Fun is a word that you definitely cannot use. Yes we had a good race in Barcelona, but we are still a bit disappointed with how we started the season. We expected more. But from that disappointment we now take the strength to say: ‘That’s not it - we can do better!’ And we did, because we have the tools for it and the stability.

"Giving up is not in our DNA," she insists. "We want to achieve our target at the end of the season. We want to catch up again to the midfield. Yes, the midfield is large, so the higher the better. But with all the changes that have happened in the team, we are set to be back in the midfield."

With her arget, "somewhere between P5 and P7", one wonders why the team opted to use year-old Ferrari engines. Was it really all about money?

"It was our choice," she says. "It was the recommendation from our technical management board. They saw advantages learning from the experiences we had in the year before: that if you know the power unit you can fully concentrate on the aero side, on the chassis side. These were the advantages from a development perspective.

"Yes, we knew that there would be a power deficit, but the target was to compensate as much as you can through your aero development. That was not achieved - unfortunately. I think everybody in the team had hoped that it would turn out better - so yes, there is disappointment, but we will overcome that."

And, of course, newt year sees the Hinwil outfit switch to Honda, a move, though speculated for months, still led to raised eyebrows in the paddock when it was confirmed.

"This will happen next year, and a lot can happen in the next couple of months," she says. "Honda is absolutely committed to the sport and improving their engine. Honda has a long history in motorsport so they know the business. And we all know that sometimes things do take time. We have all the trust from the talks that we had that Honda will overcome their issues."

Asked if talk of Mercedes coming to Honda's aid had influenced the switch, she replies: "No, because we never listen to rumours, not the positive and not the negative. We were convinced with what Honda has told us."

Having confirmed that the C36 will feature updates at "Monaco, Austria, Silverstone and Budapest", Kaltenborn is asked her assessment of her three drivers this season, bearing in mind Pascal Wehrlein's 'unavailability' for the first two races and a disastrous weekend in China for Antonio Giovinazzi when he crashed twice.

"From what we can offer them, there is nothing I would say that we are unhappy about," she replies. "But to really make a proper judgement, it would only be fair for us to do so when we can give them the right basis.

"Looking at Pascal we were all very excited in entering into this partnership, and then it develops in a completely different direction: one that you are definitely not prepared for.

"This leads to a lot of disturbance. But we will overcome that. From the very first moment we’ve anticipated that it will take time, as these are very physically demanding cars and if you miss out on training it doesn’t come back overnight. So a little bit we’ve been prepared for that - and we are more or less back where we should be with him in terms of his physical situation - and his P8 finish last weekend showed that.

"With the other young man, Antonio Giovinazzi, I felt very bad for him, as he really wanted to do such a good job. In Australia it was so impressive. In China it was unfortunate that he crashed the car two times and that is definitely not a moment you want to think about. It was a costly weekend, as you would rather spend money on development and not on rebuilding a car."

Away from the track, along with Force India, Sauber has been vocal not only in terms of the sport's governance but also the distribution of prize money, an area that the sport's new owners have promised to address.

"We lost a team at the end of the 2016 season. We know how important it is to put on an exciting show, but this is directly connected to the allocation of funds.

"Liberty Media has a clear vision of how to make this sport more profitable, for everyone, not just for some," she continues. "We are all in the same boat. So it is not enough only looking at where we are going technically, we have to look at the costs.

"The sport generates a lot of money - it can probably generate even more - but even where we are now it is a lot of money and it should allow each and every team to have a decent existence. I think that it is moving in the right direction. Yes, we do have an agreement in place, but it is also true that situations can change."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by edllorca, 18/05/2017 15:34

"Well that's all Sauber can afford."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Paul C, 17/05/2017 17:38

"I hope Honda doesn't send Sauber McLaren's hand me down power units. "

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