Peter Sauber has declared himself happy with 2013 team racer Esteban Gutierrez, following the Mexican rookie’s first test of the pre-season at Jerez.
“Last year we were not entirely satisfied with his performance in GP2,” the Swiss team’s founder, co-owner and former boss told Motorsport Aktuell.
“Sometimes we were even disappointed, so we didn’t know exactly what we could expect from him,” added Sauber.
21-year-old Gutierrez, third in last year’s GP2 standings, has replaced the McLaren-bound Sergio Perez, ostensibly to keep major team backer Telmex happy.
So what is Sauber expecting from the youngster?
“I would prefer, of course, if he could go at Hulkenberg’s level right from the beginning,” said Peter Sauber.
Peter Sauber has urged Robin Frijns, the Swiss F1 team’s new reserve driver, to find a race cockpit in another series for 2013.
Recently, Dutchman Frijns – the new Formula Renault 3.5 champion – was interpreted as having criticised the Hinwil based team for not giving him “much to do” in 2013 as he prepares to serve as reserve driver.
Team co-owner and founder Peter Sauber reacted: “As far as I understand, some quotes were taken out of context.
“From our side,” he insisted, “it was clear from the outset that he will not be driving on Fridays. But at the same time, it is absolutely in our interest that he races in 2013, simply to stay fresh as a race driver.
“This is being worked on,” Sauber told Speed Week. “I really like Robin,” the 69-year-old continued. “He has won in every series in which he has competed. He is a great talent and I am happy that we have him with us.”
Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn hinted recently that Frijns is seeking to combine his new F1 role with a seat in GP2.
Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan has revealed he remains good friends with Peter Sauber.
Sauber, who turned 69 on Saturday, has announced that after twenty years at the helm of his Swiss team, he has handed over to F1’s first female boss, Monisha Kaltenborn. He sat down with his old friend Jordan, now a pundit on British television, in the Korea paddock on Saturday.
The Swiss newspaper Blick said Sauber drank a glass or Prosecco and smoked a Havana cigar, while Jordan drank tequila.
“I respect Peter as I did 20 years ago,” Jordan is quoted as saying. “He was always the nice, dear, good-natured, honest boss — and I was the complete opposite. A real bastard! That’s probably why we always got on so well.”
Peter Sauber has essentially confirmed reports Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg are in the running to drive for the Swiss team in 2013.
With Sergio Perez heading to McLaren, the fact Sauber is retaining the Telmex sponsorship is a sign the team could move its other Mexican Gutierrez into the race seat next season. And incumbent Kamui Kobayashi admitted in Korea that his seat is in doubt because he has been asked to bring a sponsor to the team for 2013.
Sauber is close to the veteran Blick correspondent Roger Benoit, who in recent weeks has said Gutierrez and Force India’s Hulkenberg are the favourites for any vacancies at the Hinwil based team for next season.
“I think Blick has mentioned all of the possibilities. And there are no more suspects than that,” Sauber is quoted by the newspaper.
Earlier, Sauber – set to turn 69 – announced he has finally handed over as team principal to chief executive Monisha Kaltenborn.
“You have to let go,” Peter Sauber told Blick. “But anyone who thinks I have lost interest are completely wrong,” added the man who will remain president of the board of directors and two-thirds team owner.
Sauber said he made his decision to hand over to Kaltenborn when, from Switzerland, he watched Kobayashi finish on the Suzuka podium.
“Yes, just like that,” he told Benoit.
Peter Sauber has handed over the role of team principal to Monisha Kaltenborn, making her the first female boss on the pitwall.
The Swiss squad announced in a statement that, two days ahead of his 69th birthday, founder Peter Sauber “is stepping back from the day-to-day running of the team”.
41-year-old Kaltenborn, an Austrian with Indian origins and already a team co-owner, will take over as team boss “with immediate effect”.
Sauber will stay as president of the board of directors and remain responsible “for the group’s strategic direction”, the media statement added.
“Now is a good time for both of us, so this is the right moment to pass on the baton,” he said. “After all, there have been a number of races I’ve been unable to attend – most recently the Japanese Grand Prix, where the team put in an excellent performance,” added Sauber.
Peter Sauber insists he is not worried about the future, despite intense speculation surrounding his Swiss team’s 2013 driver lineup. The impressive Mexican Sergio Perez has been linked with moves to Ferrari or McLaren, while speculation suggests Kamui Kobayashi’s place could be in danger due to the well-funded Charles Pic’s solid debut for struggling Marussia.
“It’s not for nothing that the Brits call this time of year ‘silly season’,” Sauber wrote in the Swiss newspaper Blick. “Journalists’ crazy imaginations can tend to run away. From our side there is nothing new on the subject. The situation has remained unchanged for weeks, we are not under time pressure and will announce our drivers for 2013 in due course.
“There is no deadline. The fact is, the interest in our team is very big,” said Sauber.
Indeed, the Hinwil based camp has been impressive this year with its Ferrari-powered C31; Perez finishing on the podium three times so far. The usually mid-grid team, meanwhile, has already scored more than double its 2011 points tally.
“Quite a few experts predicted we would suffer a mid-season drop,” Sauber explained, “because they assumed that we would be unable to keep up with the rate of development of our competitors. Actually, the opposite has happened: we are stronger now than we were at the beginning of the season.
“I am convinced that the clearly upwards trend is no accident, but the direct result of our entire organisation. Many experts were surprised when we announced our new structure without a technical director,” said Sauber, referring to the departure early this year of James Key.
“I heard more than once that it (having no technical director) is impossible, but our results say otherwise.”
Peter Sauber has slammed as a “lie” suggestions Romain Grosjean and Lotus apologised for last weekend’s Belgian grand prix crash.
Fernando Alonso, who narrowly escaped injury when the now-banned Grosjean’s Lotus flew across his cockpit at Spa, confirmed that the French driver subsequently said sorry by text message. And Lotus boss Eric Boullier said Grosjean has also spoken to the others caught up in the shunt, including Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez.
Perez’s Sauber teammate Kamui Kobayashi was also smashed out of the race by the Grosjean incident, having qualified a career-best second at Spa.
“I read everywhere that Grosjean has apologised to all the drivers for the starting accident at Spa,” team boss Peter Sauber is quoted by Blick newspaper. “(That’s) a lie. He has contacted neither Sergio nor Kamui,” said the Swiss.
A source at Volkswagen has rejected speculation that the car company could be entering F1 by pairing up with Sauber.
Peter Sauber fuelled speculation during the German Grand Prix when he confirmed that he had met up with VW chairman Martin Winterkorn at the Geneva motor show recently.
“We are certainly not going to make public the content of the conversation,” he said.
A Volkswagen source, however, has been willing at least to wind down the rumours about a F1 tie-up with Sauber.
The source said: “As long as Ferndinand Piech is alive, the chance of a formula one entry (for VW) is zero point zero.”
Piech is Volkswagen’s supervisory group chairman.
Sauber has set its sights on chasing down Mercedes.
Team boss Peter Sauber, however, admitted the task will be no mean feat. With half of the 2012 season now gone, the Hinwil based team is sixth in the constructors’ standings, a healthy haul at Hockenheim bringing Sauber within 25 points of Mercedes.
“It doesn’t matter who is ahead of us, we need to always focus on attacking this opponent,” Sauber told the Swiss newspaper Blick. “We are realistic and know that Mercedes is a big adversary for a small private team.”
Blick said Mercedes’ driver duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are paid a combined EUR 30 million approximately, compared to the no more than 2 million apiece earned by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. Last year, Sauber finished the world championship in seventh place, three places and almost 100 points behind Mercedes.
At Hockenheim, Peter Sauber has said just enough to kindle speculation the Swiss team could team up with German car giant Volkswagen.
When told there are rumours of a possible tie-up between his Hinwil based team and VW, Sauber said: “Indeed it is so.”
Blick newspaper said the common link between Sauber and VW could be Jurgen Hubbert, Mercedes’ former chief. Sauber confirmed: “At the Geneva motor show we had a meeting with (Volkswagen chairman Martin) Winterkorn.
“We are certainly not going to make public the content of the conversation,” he insisted.
Sauber also added fuel to paddock rumours the team’s former technical boss James Key could be headed to Toro Rosso to replace the vacationing Giorgio Ascanelli.
“I’ve heard that,” the 68-year-old said simply.