Sauber has reached where it left off in 2005 when the Swiss racing team was sold to BMW. The team boss is again called Peter Sauber, the workforce has shrunk from 390 to 260 employees, the engine and transmission come from F errari . The budget in Hinwil was cut by 40 percent compared to the previous year. The good news: The 2010 season is assured. The bad: For 2011, Sauber has to start all over with the search for sponsors.
Sauber C29 still without sponsors
So far, the color white has dominated the cars from Hinwil. 'We were only able to start looking for sponsors after the guaranteed starting place at the beginning of December,' explains Peter Sauber. 'And then it was Christmas first.' The search is now in full swing. 'Assume that the white will be replenished as the season progresses.' The new old boss still stays on the carpet: 'It's already too late for the big sponsor. We are aiming for the 2011 season.'
The 66-year-old returnees has had a hard time with BMW after a long hitch bought his team with their own funds, 'and there is no network to catch me.' Sauber dared to return to work because otherwise the lights would have gone out in Hinwil, 260 people would have lost their jobs and some suppliers would have got into trouble. With 260 employees at the moment, Sauber has to take it easy, but the base is still on the level of a top team: 'Our infrastructure is no worse than that of Ferrari. Who has a top wind tunnel in their own house?'
Sauber has to save
In the expansion stages of the year, however, you will notice that Sauber is now a private team again: 'If we brought four new sub-floors earlier now there are only two left. ' Sighing, he adds: 'Money can buy lap times.' The season's goal is clear: 'The team was sixth in the constructors' championship last year. We want to keep that.' For Peter Sauber, the comeback to the front line is a double-edged sword. 'It was never planned,' he admits, 'I had already come to terms with my partial retirement very well.' It's just like it used to beno more. At the race track, the company founder is still the boss in the ring. In the factory the house legal advisor Monicha Kaltenborn takes over the scepter. Otherwise all old faces: technical director Willy Rampf, team manager Beat Zehnder, chief mechanic Urs Kuratle. It's as if someone had turned back time by five years, as if the BMW episode never happened.
BMW officially remains in the team name
The fact that the racing team is still called BMW-Sauber, although a Ferrari eight-cylinder drives the car, is a curiosity that needs to be explained. The continued use of the old name guarantees Sauber that the TV and entry fees will be paid out, which for the sixth in the Constructors' Cup 2009 will amount to around 30 million dollars. Because the team was late in signing the Concorde agreement, the team name had to be retained, 'although it has been the same racing team for 17 years, with changing ownership, but that was also the case with others.'
A new name would mean a new team according to the statutes, and that would risk losing the donations from Eclestone's coffers. Only in the case of Mercedes had an exception been made before this season, which was also controversial within the Formula 1 community. Red Bull voted against the name change from Brawn GP to Mecedes GP. Why Bernie Eclestone will not accept a name change in the Sauber case for the time being can only be speculated about. Maybe he wants to punish BMW for saying goodbye to Formula 1 overnight.
Sauber will not compete as BMW-Sauber forever. 'At some point we will submit an application to change the chassis name, but we are not pressed for time.' The waves must first smooth out a little. BMW would be happy too, because the Bavarians actually finished with the Formula 1 chapter and therefore have no interest in the name continuing to walk on the cars.
Mixture of experience and talent in the cockpit
The choice of drivers caused astonishment in the scene. Although Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli, Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella were big names on the market and also auditioned in Hinwil, Sauber relies on the unknown great Kobayashi and homecomer Pedro de la Rosa. Kamui Kobayashi made his debut with a bang at the end of the season, but are two Grand Prix and three World Championship points enough to qualify for Nick Heidfeld's replacement role?
'I have a good feeling,' says Sauber. Heidfeld was on the team for seven years. Too long if you want to start over like Sauber did. 'The team needed fresh motivation.' Pedro de la Rosa also fits into this picture. The Spaniard will be 39 years old in February, but that has not been an issue since Michael Schumacher's comeback. De la Rosadrove like the German his last Grand Prix 2006 in Brazil.
In contrast to Schumacher, as a McLaren test pilot, he also kept his driving skills in good shape. Last year he sat 922 kilometers in the car and countless hours in the simulator. His new employer builds on this knowledge and experience. Races without refueling require a certain degree of maturity from the man in the cockpit. 'We have a good mix with young Kobayashi and de la Rosa,' believes Sauber.