February 14th, 2014 (F1plus/Gustavo A Roche).- There has been a lot of changes at Sauber since the second half of 2012, which was a very good year for the team. For starters, Peter Sauber, founder of the Swiss outfit stepped down and passed the reigns to Monica Kaltenborn, the first woman to become Principal of a Formula 1 team.
Then it was announced that Sergio Perez was leaving for McLaren for the next season, and that Kamui Kobayashi contract was not going to be extended.
Nevertheless, the team moved swiftly and right way and brought Nico Hulkenberg from Force India as a superb replacement for the now gone Perez and then named Esteban Gutierrez, its reserve driver, to be alongside the German.
Sauber had an excellent 2012 considering its size and financial means. Four podiums and they got very close to a win a couple of times (they were probably begging for a longer race) both with Pérez (Malaysia and Italy).
Given the little changes over the regulations for 2013, all teams brought improved and revised versions for their 2012 machines; ‘evolution’ was the most used word to describe the cars. This will probably bring excitement and things will get tight from the get go (we have to thank Pirelli again for helping with that).
Sauber added more changes to aforementioned, by revealing a new intriguing and “cooler” looking livery to its C32, which shows good promise and features bold incorporations in design. The tiny sidepods come to mind as well as the use of the vanity panel, etc.
In an interview published by Formula1.com, Monica Kaltenborn confessed that expectations are high for the team, and motivation is not lacking to work hard for a good season.
“I hope so - indeed, I hope for a lot more than last year. The major reason for that is first and foremost the car: we have based it on the 2012 car and have focused a lot on eliminating any weaknesses we felt it had. Secondly, the team: we have stability and continuity in the team, which is a huge asset. On top of this we have two drivers who we think can really utilize this potential. We are set up well!” Said Kaltenborn.
Nevertheless, she acknowledges that competition will be fierce, and the efforts for 2013 will continue even if results aren’t the expected.
“The consequences of our future will depend on this year’s result. There is no reason to believe we shouldn’t be competitive. My guess is that the cars will become closer again due to the relatively stable rules. It is then that you have to have an edge over the others. “ She added.
Esteban Gutierrez will enter his first season in Formula 1.
When speaking about Sauber’s new drivers, Kaltenborn seems to be on the optimistic side. It’s easy to notice that the Principal looks for people’s strengths at all times and how to enhance skills and qualities. It’s even more interesting how Kaltenborn extract each different situation and makes it work in the team’s favor. No wonder why she works in Management.
In regards Esteban Gutierrez she reckons: “With Esteban (Gutierrez) we have a driver who we know, which makes a difference. We have not only followed and supported him, we have also worked with him effectively during his young driver days, so you do have an advantage over somebody you don’t know at all.
“With Esteban we know his strengths and weaknesses, as we have seen him develop over the years. He, on the other hand, knows by now how the team works and what we expect. That makes a big difference, so you are spared the phase of getting to know each other. With him it is about moving on to the next phase where he is now the race driver, which he wasn’t until now.“
As for Nico Hulkenberg the assessment is somewhat different: “With Nico (Hulkenberg), of course you have a new situation, but here we have an advantage compared with previous driver line-ups in that he is already an experienced driver.
“We realised that when he came to us, that the adaptation process is much shorter as both sides know very well what they want and you just have to find your common ground. So no, the change is not as radical this year as it may sound.”