Ex-Renault boss Vasseur appointed team principal at Sauber

2017 F1 season

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Sauber has hired Frederic Vasseur to take over as team principal following the departure of Monisha Kaltenborn.

Vasseur will take up the position on the Monday after this weekend’s British Grand Prix. He was previously racing director at Renault during the 2016 season before being ousted in January. Before that had a successful career running junior team ART.

Chairman Pascal Picci welcomed Vasseur by saying his “long and successful career in top level international motorsport speaks for itself.”

Sauber was taken over by Longbow Finance last year after running into financial problems. The team’s new owners kept Kaltenborn in charge for almost a year before parting ways with her last month.

The Swiss outfit has been without a team principal since Kaltenborn’s abrupt departure in June, amid rumours over a dispute concerning the team’s handling of its drivers. The team has participated in two races since then.

“I’m very proud to be joining Sauber Motorsport AG and wish to thank the company’s shareholders for their trust in me,” said Vassuer.

“I’ve been impressed by the facilities in Hinwil and by the talent and ambition of the workforce, and I very much look forward to complementing the team with my experience and determination and drive all people in the right direction in everything they do: I am convinced that all together we will achieve ambitious targets.”

Sauber are currently ninth in the championship with five points. The only team behind them in the standings are McLaren, with two.

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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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31 comments on “Ex-Renault boss Vasseur appointed team principal at Sauber”

  1. All of a sudden I think Sauber will breakthrough, I think Vasseur is the man to get the job done, it will be painful for Cyril if Sauber does a better job with less funds, good luck Vasseur.

    1. He might deliver effective changes, but the on-track result hinges on the PU – the outdated 2016 Ferrari for this season, and the as-yet unknown quantity of a Honda PU for the 2018 season.

      1. I think it’s pretty known that Honda will be rubbish in 2018.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          12th July 2017, 11:46

          I think they will be better off going with Honda than sticking with a year old engine. I think it will overall be stronger at most tracks now it is up to date even if it was more unreliable. This should still give them a bigger opportunity to score points. I think it is worth taking the risk.

          1. I don’t think the risk is worth taking. The honda engine is so bad because it is slow and unreliable. For sauber the engine being slow doesn’t really matter if they can get the engine cheap. But unreliability is a huge issue because the way sauber collects points is by being there in the end of every race collecting points because other teams’ issues. Sauber is happy finishing most of their races p1-p14 because occasionally enough cars have issues that they finish p10 or higher. The less races sauber can finish the more they will dnf when on points. They can’t make up that difference by being faster on track.

            If mclaren can’t collect more than 2 points then what kind of chance does sauber have? Only reason for sauber to go with honda if is the engine is so much cheaper than the year old ferrari. That being said big changes can happen during the winter break. Ferrari took a huge jump from last year and now are legit title contenders. So it is not impossible for honda to get to the level of renault for example. But for that jump ferrari had to rearrange much of their bits and bobs. But honda is just hoping it’ll work. There is no better way to have your hopes and dreams crushed than by setting them on fire on top of big piles of money in f1.

          2. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
            12th July 2017, 18:08

            @socksolid remember that Vandoorne should have scored points if he wouldn’t have ignored the blue flags 2 laps. So it seems to me that the new Honda update can deliver the goods.

        2. If Honda PU mark 4 is as revolutionary as mark 3 over its predecessors they’ll be dead last.

  2. @abdelilah, I just saw news that Sauber now also seems to not be going with Honda next year, possibly going with Mercedes after McLaren (apparrently??) might be talking to Ferrari – not looking bad for them. But, they have a lot of work to get the aerodynamics, and chassis/suspension right ahead of them.

    1. Do you have a link for that information? Honestly, I think Honda will destroy Sauber just like they did McLaren. If Sauber can get a new Ferrari or Mercedes engine deal, it would be great for them.

    2. Given the identity of the new boss, I would have thought there was more chance of Sauber going to Renault than Ferrari or Mercedes – and depending on the contract with Honda, not much chance of that either.

      1. @alianora-la-canta
        Renault just fired him though…

      2. I think the last thing Vasseur wants is a relationship with Renault.

  3. Ex-Renault boss Vassuer


    Sauber has announced Frederic Vasseur

    1. ah, it’s fixed!

      1. I really hope it puts Sauber in right path.
        They have been lost in the last couple of years.

  4. First press-conference for Vasseur shared with Abiteboul? That would be fun

    1. Who’ll be placed between them I wonder, à la Magnussen last week? :-)

      1. Horner! And make him talk trash about Tag Heur

        1. That’ll be fun. I’m sure the TV director will keep cutting away from them to show Toto smirking from the sidelines :D

  5. No wonder the Honda engine deal has been called off.

    Typical of Kaltenborn: she only chose Honda for the money (first year free, second year half the money) and not for anything remotely related to performance. Just like the Giedo van der Garde case in 2015.

    I’m glad Kaltenborn’s gone, glad the Honda deal has been called off, glad Sauber got a new team principal and hopefully they can now work to return to their original greatness the team was under Peter Sauber.

    1. One addition: the puzzle now falls into place. I read on Autosport the Honda deal was never activated although there was some sort of contract. Sauber bailing out probably doesn’t have too much to do with Kaltenborn anymore (even though she initiated it), but more with the latest rumours McLaren is now trying to get Ferrari engines for 2018. That means Honda wouldn’t have a team with a large budget, meaning they won’t be able to spend as much money on R&D as they can now (and look what it brought…), so Sauber only isn’t an option for Honda most likely.

      1. Rick, does that mean there is a possibility that Honda might not have a Team at all, and are made to leave the Sport? I never saw that scenario coming…however, McLaren still might keep them…tough decision for sure.

      2. @addvariety, with regards to your claim of “former greatness under Peter Sauber”, what exactly do you mean by that?

        Between 1993 and 2005 (i.e. before the takeover by BMW), Sauber finished between 6th and 8th in the WCC for all but two years. The only time you could say that the team was “great” was under BMW’s ownership in 2007 and 2008, when Peter Sauber had stepped back to being just a technical advisor – not dissimilar to the role that he had in the team between 2013 and 2016 (although he stepped back from day to day operations, he still remained on the board of directors for Sauber until Longbow Finance bought out his stake in the team).

      3. @addvariety, also, as an addendum to my earlier post, for what it is worth Joe Saward mentioned that, during the Austrian GP, the new owner of Sauber had a go at him, where he spent most of his time patronisingly ranting about how people in F1 didn’t understand how to operate a business, nor understood their profit and loss accounts or their balance sheets. That sort of attitude rather suggests that, if anything, it is the new owner who is more interested in following the money than Kaltenborn was.

  6. A bit off-topic, but…
    Does that mean we’re on the way to three engine manufacturers next season?

  7. There is a requirement in F1 that the FIA has to be notified by the 6th of May if a team is going to change its engine supplier. Sauber has done so, saying they will use Honda engines next year. McLaren didn’t, so they too will be using Honda engines next year.

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      12th July 2017, 18:14

      @drycrust I have seen so many “exception clauses” applied when FIA considers it convenient (maybe internal lobbying?) that it wouldn’t surprise me to see both Sauber and McLaren using something different from a Honda trashbin.

    2. Crash’s description is not compatible with what is said in the regulations.

      A team is free to decide whatever engine it likes, as long as it is before it formally enters the championship year in which it is to use that engine (Article 8.3 of the Sporting Regulations). Technically, it can change it even after that point – as long as it accepts that it will receive no points, earned in the remainder of the year following the swap. (So if McLaren dumped Honda on its face tomorrow, it won’t score anything for the rest of 2017, but it would keep its 2 points, secures payment for whatever position it would have taken had points been awarded to it for the whole-season performance, and would enter 2018 a free team).

      Entries to the F1 World Championship happen in the previous year, with a deadline that moves depending on the year (it was as early as May 22nd in 2009, due to some spectacular power-plays that were going on at the time, and standard – as distinct from late – entries have in the mid-2000s been as late as November 30th). Since 1998, there has also been a window; it has not been possible to post an entry before the window opened.

      For the 2018 season, Article 8.1 of the Sporting Regulations requires that entries be submitted between 21 October to 1 November. So not only is neither McLaren nor Sauber committed to Honda in the FIA’s eyes for 2018, they can’t be for another 3 months.

      If there’s a contract between the teams and their engine supplier, then there will be consequences from Honda for breaking it, but there’s no engine equivalent of the drivers’ Contract Recognition Board. Other engine suppliers may not wish to touch teams with a 100 foot bargepole that offend Honda, and if that’s so the teams breaching contract may be up the creek without a paddle. The FIA cannot force an engine supplier to supply a team unless the team it is to supply is already entered into the following year’s championship (though it can certainly put pressure on it to do so)…

  8. As far as I know Honda intend to manufacture F1 engines next year, so regardless of what McLaren and Sauber want to do they are stuck with them because the rule is if you end up without an engine you have to go to the engine manufacturer who supplies the smallest amount of F1 teams … which is Honda.
    From what I’ve read it seems that every week engine manufacturer dependent decisions are made on the 2018 spec car that are critical to the car’s performance, so the longer McLaren and Sauber stick with the idea of using a Honda engine the more likely it will be their car will under perform if they don’t use a Honda engine.
    I must admit I can’t understand why a team like McLaren would sign a long term deal on such an important item as a power unit without having it thoroughly tested themselves, but they did. Nor can I understand why Honda would make an engine of that calibre and continually fall short in their testing regime, but they do.

    1. If there are only 10 teams on the grid, it’s entirely possible that Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari supply the entire grid. Mercedes already supplies 2 customers, Ferrari also has 2 customers and Renault has 2 customers. Either of them could add one customer and Honda is not required in the sport anymore. So, I’m not sure that Honda will remain of the sport due to the rules as such.

      Sauber seems like they’ll stick with a Ferrari PU, even if it’s the 2017 PU, it should be massively quicker and more reliable than anything Honda will produce. The only point for Sauber will be price. Honda, I’m guessing is free for Sauber, while the Ferrari price tag will be discounted by still high for them.

      It was always down to the money for Sauber. If they have the funds, they’ll dump Honda like a hot potato.

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