Peter Sauber denies he plans to sell his team

2011 F1 season

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Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Peter Sauber says he does not plan to sell his team.

He added that the team’s partnership with Telmex, which starts in 2011, is “purely a sponsoring agreement”.

Sauber published the following Q&A with the team principal.

He explains how the team turned around a poor start to their 2010 season and why he replaced Pedro de la Rosa with Nick Heidfeld:

Have you ever regretted the decision to buy the team back?
Peter Sauber: "No, never. And I never will, although I knew that keeping the team alive would be a very difficult task. But if I hadn’t taken the plunge, every day I’d have been asking myself why. We’ve cleared one obstacle after another from our path; when I compare the situation a year ago to where we are today, everybody in the team can be proud of what we’ve achieved."

The team’s progress early in the season was very slow. What was going through your mind?
PS: "That was tough, no question. The car was not only too slow, it was also unreliable, which is extremely unusual for this team. And then, as so often happens in sport, we also had a fair amount of bad luck. That wasn’t just annoying, it also made negotiations with potential sponsors pretty much a non-starter."

But then, from Valencia onwards, things suddenly picked up. What was the catalyst?
PS: "In April James Key took over as Technical Director and achieved a great deal in a short period of time. He and his team identified the weaknesses of the C29 and laid down a clear roadmap for improvements. These ideas were quickly put into practice and had a positive effect. After collecting just a single World Championship point in the first eight races of the season, we added another 36 over the next eight GPs – plus seven in the final three races. Added to which, James also implemented a series of organisational changes. Our success in finding a way out of such a difficult situation over the course of the season represents a fine advertisement for the quality and spirit within the team."

You made a driver change ahead of the race in Singapore, replacing Pedro de la Rosa with Nick Heidfeld. With the benefit of hindsight, would you make the same decision again?
PS: "Yes, I would. We were in a situation where we didn’t know how far we had come in terms of performance. Both drivers were new to the team, we didn’t know them very well and we didn’t know how good the car was. What we were missing was a reliable benchmark. We know Nick well after working with him for many years, and that allowed us to gauge the progress of various elements."

How happy are you with Kamui Kobayashi?
PS: "Kamui inspires us all within the team. His refreshing, attacking style really puts a smile on your face. You can tell from reactions in the stands that the Formula One fans love him too; his overtaking moves are always great to watch. However, it would be doing him an injustice to only focus on this aspect of his driving. Kamui is also a very clever driver and understands how to put a pre-defined strategy into action. He’s progressed wonderfully well this year and I’m certain that there’s more to come from him in the future. When I signed him a year ago, I had to put up with critical comments from some experts. But my gut feeling told me that Kamui was something special. And today I’m just delighted to have him in the team."

This year coming you’ll be lining up with Sergio P??rez – a rookie – and Kamui Kobayashi, who only has a year’s experience in Formula One behind him. Is that not something of a risk?
PS: "I’m confident that we’re going into next year in good shape from a driver point of view. Kamui has also made big steps forward this year on the technical side of things, and I have no doubt that he will continue to grow with his new responsibility. Sergio is brimming with talent. For him, it’s a question of learning quickly. Here, he can pick things up from Kamui in the same way that Kamui did from Pedro and Nick. Plus, it’s worth remembering that 2001 was one of the most successful years to date for Sauber – and that season we had a rookie by the name of Kimi Raikkonen alongside Nick, who was in only his second year in F1, as our drivers."

Will Kamui Kobayashi then automatically be the team’s number one?
PS: "There’s no number one driver in our team; the drivers will be given equal treatment in every respect. But, of course, I’m expecting Kamui to bring his extra experience into play."

How is the development of the new car progressing?
PS: "The development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari is running according to plan. We’re setting our sights high, and things are looking good so far. James Key has proved in the past that he knows how to build fast cars. All the changes to the technical regulations – including the ban on double diffusers, the introduction of Pirelli tyres, adjustable rear wings and the option of using KERS – make this a particularly exacting challenge this year."

A lot has been written about the team being up for sale. What’s the current situation?
PS: "I own 100 percent of the team and there are at present no plans to sell the team or any part of it. Our partnership with Telmex, which will come into force on 1st January 2011, does not include any kind of stakeholding and is purely a sponsoring agreement."

How long will you stay on as team boss?
PS: "A year ago I said that I didn’t want to remain on the pit wall when I turned 70. That’s still the case, and I’m now 67. The critical thing for me is to ensure that we bring even greater stability to the team and that we have a financial basis on which to move forward from a sporting point of view. When that is in place, the time will have come for me to take a step back."

Read more: 2011 F1 entry list confirms Sauber name change

Image © BMW Sauber F1 Team

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Peter Sauber denies he plans to sell his team”

  1. I like how he ignores the BMW days in terms of the most successful, take that Bavarian Motor Works.

    1. I suspect his dislike of part take-overs by sponsors also relates to the BMW days, especially the ending of it; interesting that now Williams seems to be changing opinion to having co-owners while Sauber doesn’t want that now – both after having dealings with BMW, and deciding on opposite strategies there.

      1. Not really. Williams are more open to co-ownership only after spending 5 seasons in the wilderness (Cosworth, Toyota and Cosworth again) I remember Sir Frank and Patrick Head being pretty vehemently against co-ownership in 2006.

        Sauber have always had a strong tech base, especially with Ferrari for the engines. It’s unlikely that they’ll go through the same trouble s as Williams did, and Peter Sauber can take a harder line on co-ownership now.

        Anyway, all of this just shows that BMW haven’t made any friends in F1 after their botched dealings with both Williams and Sauber.

  2. Peter Sauber? who? lol, Go kamui kobi-yashi! A pride boy of Peter.

  3. Nice article!

    Hope Peter doesn’t sell up, and also hope to see a blue Sauber next season :)

    Also, just a little quick-fix Keith:

    “make this a particularly exacting challenge this year.”

    I’m guessing that’s meant to be “exciting challenge”.

    Nice one!

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      1st December 2010, 20:24

      Hmm. Not necessarily.
      An ‘exacting’ challenge would be one that needs a precise and complex solution that requires ‘exact’ actions.
      An exciting challenge might be entirely different.
      I think in the original German it was probably ‘anspruchsvoll’ which certainly doers not mean exciting.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        1st December 2010, 20:25

        Pardon my typo!

  4. Can I start a completly baseless rumour?

    Mario Thessien (sorry about the spelling im pretty sure thats not right) has recently left the post of BMW motorsport director. Could we see him back with another team on the grid?

    I could see a Ferrari type set-up with Peter Sauber moving to be a “President” type and Mario running the team day to day?

    1. He considered staying on with Sauber when BMW pulled out a year ago, but he chose not to. I doubt he has changed his mind, but it’d be nice if he did

      1. Not least because we can have the Flanders-Theissen gravatar back!

        1. I agree, the current one is… how shall I say… Somewhat disturbing!

          Well done Ned!

  5. Dr Thessen would make a good boss at Sauber. He knows most of what is going on and the people.

    1. bring back the DOCTOR!

    2. But he was also responsible for the way BMW quit the Williams partnership AND for the development strategy in 2008, so I am not all too sure he is the right man for the job.

  6. If the C30 has any kind of real speed in it, We ae in for a Show! “GO KOBAYASHI!”

  7. Good. Sauber’s my second favourite team, and I hope that next year (other than improving) it returns to this type of livery.

    1. Must say I did like the Sauber of old, even though its colours were highly related to the Red Bull sponsorship they had at the time.

      1. And the turqoise was due to Petronas sponsorship if I recall correctly, so also unlikely to return. It did look good, I agree.

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          1st December 2010, 20:28

          Shame isn’t it. I used to love the turquoise on this and the Leyton House March liveries. A very underused and distinctive colour, turquoise.

          1. So is pink

            I liked the look of the Leyton house cars as well.

  8. After Kimi Peter Sauber brought back of the most natural talented driver in the paddock, Kobayashi but Kubica.

  9. Anyone wanna buy a ton of BMW Sauber F1 gear? Seriously though, I wish the team (in it’s newest iteration) much success!

  10. Thank you so much, this was very interesting. I was actually born in Madrid (I’m not telling you when though!) but was moved around europe and finally settled in Britain when I was 6. I dont remember much of the few years I was in spain, but the smell of spanish food always seems to ring a bell in me or something. Funny, how I dont remember anything except the smells,isn’t it! I even found a website dedicated to spanish recipes, which gave me great delight and thought I really should to share with your readers. Anyway, thank you again. I’ll get my son to add your feed to my rss app…

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