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GP Week : Issue 167
27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> FEATURE "First of all one has to say that the rule changes, which play a key role in this, from last year to this year were not very significant. There was a major change on the engine mapping side, with the off-throttle hot blowing, and the front wing was of course changed tremendously. But apart from that, rules are pretty similar, so that allowed us to take last year's car as the basis and develop that further, focusing on the weaknesses of the C30. So that's one side of it. The other is, I think, the strategies we took on the development proved to be the right ones. “Not only that part of the development was the right one: what is more important is that our car evolved throughout the season. The ways we have chosen there, and the development work which has been done on the car, is exactly translating into performance the way we expected it. I think that gives you more than that advantage." Again a surprise for the world of Formula One, which usually sees the lower-budget squads starting well and then slipping away near the end of the season, not having enough resources to compete with the top teams in terms of car development. But, after all, isn't it exactly what Swiss proverbial efficiency is about? "I think we are very Swiss, in terms of all the prejudices you have regarding the Swiss people. We are very focused, we are very down-to-earth, we are very conservative in how we position ourselves, but yet we are very determined with what we want. I think it is also very typical in Switzerland, once you believe in your way, to go that way, be it against all odds. To have a team itself in Switzerland is against all odds! And we are still there." This very self-confident attitude is the same that has made team's founder Peter Sauber one of the best talent scouts in F1 and his team the perfect environment for newbies to excel in. Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi are the most recent alumni in a list which includes Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and even Michael Schumacher (when Sauber was the official Mercedes-Benz factory team in sports cars). "When you get young, inexperienced drivers, it is always a risk,” Kaltenborn reckons. “In Peter Sauber, we maybe have the person with the right feeling, because he has that touch with young drivers and he has proven that quite often. But it's a gamble sometimes. Even if you look at the performances in GP3 or GP2, are they really representative? We don't know. “It's very difficult to judge the quality of a driver from GP2 and GP3 to get him to Formula One, because it is such a big step again. Maybe it is the kind of environment we offer here, where drivers can drive without pressure and show their ability. With these drivers we were convinced of their talent and they are doing a fantastic job." It isn't by chance, in fact, that both of them are regarded as being possible replacements for Felipe Massa at Ferrari (Sauber's engine supplier, incidentally) next year. Speaking about this topic, it’s the only time in our interview that Kaltenborn clams up. “No” , she doesn't know anything about Ferrari's intentions and “no” , she hasn't been in touch with Maranello about her drivers. What about technical director James Key’s defection to rivals Toro Rosso? “We have nothing to do with that decision, it is another team's decision, it is James' decision – we wish him all the best there," Kaltenborn comments. But, since the former Force India engineer is the author of the incredible C31, one can legitimately think that the Swiss outfit have with their technicians the same selection capability they have with drivers: "Again, it is not about one person. Sauber have a strong history of always having very strong department heads and the people under them. So I think we might not have very well-known or very famous stars, like other teams, but we have on a broad area very good people. That makes the difference and allows us to work the way we can with the efficiency we have." Team work is so important for them and they rely so much on their technical department as a whole that they even gave up looking for Key's replacement: "We are the way we are by choice," Sauber’s CEO concludes. Looking at the results, could you blame them? ABOVE: Monisha Kaltenborn and Alex Sauber BELOW: Sauber drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi