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GP Week : Issue 171
w BRIEFLY » Jean Todt’s insistence on a Formula One engine spec change might just be working. The FIA president has been fighting to make F1 more relevant to automobile manufacturers, and Honda are one company considering a comeback. “On a personal level, I love racing, but there is a lot involved whenyouareinF1–itistheverytop of auto racing and that requires a large commitment,” Yoshiharu Yamamoto, Honda’s head of R&D, told British magazine Autocar. “But it is true that we do look up at those races and hope that one day we can take part again. I do not personally think we can just go straight back immediately, but there is potential for the rules to change and attract us. I follow the rules, certainly, and if they present an opportunity, then it would be nice to go back.” While much has been made of the possibility of Honda’s return as a fully- fledged constructor, a little digging in the Suzuka paddock last week revealed that it was more likely that the Japanese manufacturer would return to F1 in 2015 as an engine supplier. McLaren-Honda, anyone? » Bernie Ecclestone appears to be taking note of the global financial crisis at long last, and is proving to be flexible in his financial demands when it comes to contract extension negotiations. The latest beneficiary is Korea’s Yeongam International Circuit, which this weekend announced that the Korean Grand Prix contract had been extended to 2016. “We had to renegotiate with Mr Ecclestone and brought a few ideas and persuaded him that Korea cannot continue the event with such a big financial loss,” race promoter Park Won-Hwa said. “It took a long time but, in the end, Mr Ecclestone agreed to make another contract.” F1 >>> NEWS The Sauber F1 team made history this weekend, when it was confirmed that Monisha Kaltenborn had been promoted to the role of team principal with immediate effect. The promotion makes Kaltenborn – already one of the most powerful and well-respected women in motorsport – the first female team principal in Formula One. Kaltenborn has been a vital member of the Sauber team since 2000, when Peter Sauber poached the talented young lawyer from the Fritz-Kaiser Group, which at the time was a part owner of the Swiss racing outfit. She quickly proved her worth in the boardroom, and was made a member of the Board of Management in very short order. In January 2010, Peter Sauber demonstrated his faith in Kaltenborn by making her CEO of the team. The move was widely viewed as being little more than a precursor to her eventual promotion to team boss, a suspicion that was confirmed in May 2012, when Kaltenborn was given a one-third stake in the company. The Swiss team founder has long said that he had no interest in remaining on the pit wall into his seventies, and with his 69th birthday having passed over the course of the weekend Kaltenborn’s promotion came as little surprise. “We decided a long time ago that Monisha would take over from me,” Peter Sauber said when the announcement was made, “but we left the timing open. Now is a good time for both of us, so this is the right moment to pass on the baton. 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. “I’m in no doubt that Monisha has all the necessary skills to be an outstanding Team Principal, and I’m equally certain she will ensure that the values underpinning the company live on. That is very important to me.” “Naturally I’m very aware of the major responsibility I have for Peter Sauber’s racing team,” Kaltenborn said. “He founded the team over 40 years ago, and in the spring it will be 20 years since Sauber lined up for its debut Formula One grand prix. We are the fourth-oldest team in Formula One. To build up a project like this and keep it alive in a difficult environment is a tremendous achievement. I have set my sights high and am committed to taking the team for ward as Peter Sauber would want and leading it on to success.” One of Kaltenborn’s first duties as team principal will be to name Sauber’s 2013 driver line-up, which has yet to be confirmed. Peter Sauber was one of the paddock’s great talent-spotters, and gave Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, and Kimi Raikkonen their first chances in Formula One. As a consequence, all eyes will be on Kaltenborn to see whether she carries on in that grand tradition of bringing on young talent, or if she elects to run more experienced drivers to solidify Sauber’s place as the pre-eminent of the mid-field teams. NO GLASS CEILING FOR KALTENBORN 6 GPWEEK.com // 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: