Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn has put the team's good start to 2012 down to experience after watching second year driver Sergio Perez take the fight to Fernando Alonso's Ferrari
Few who witnessed the team's struggle at the end of 2011, when it slipped to rear of a battle with Force India
and Toro Rosso, would have expected to see the young Mexican become a leading light of round two, but Kaltenborn insists that, despite being adversely affected by the decision not to ban blown diffusers midway through the season, Sauber - which was also still returning to health after being unceremoniously dumped by BMW
- always had the potential to bounce back.
"The second half of 2011 was definitely painful for us, with the change in position of the FIA," she told the official F1 website, "We suffered a lot but, taking into account that we have been here for 20 years - we are the fourth-oldest team on the grid - we have not forgotten how to build good cars, despite some difficulties lately.
"It took a while for the team to settle down after the BMW
departure, but now it's rolling! I certainly hope that we can keep up this momentum. I am pretty confident that we are moving in the right direction and, hopefully, we can maintain this level. It has been a wonderful start to this season so far and, knock on wood, it will stay that way for many, many more races to come."
Despite the fact that it currently sits fourth in the constructors' standings, the Swiss team is far from a match, financially, for the likes of McLaren, Red Bull
or Ferrari, which it trails, or even Mercedes, which it comprehensively leads, but again Kaltenborn is confident that it has the knowledge to survive.
"The Swiss never talk about their finances or their budget!" she joked, "We, on the other hand, have also openly said that we are not satisfied with our sponsor situation because we have high targets and, to achieve them, you need appropriate funding.
"We still need to work on that side of things as, of course, the more funding you have, the more you can develop - and it shows on the track. In this respect, we definitely over-delivered last weekend! I have said before that, when we look back, we practically never had enough money to do what we really wanted to. The question is always how big the gap is - sometimes it is bigger, sometimes it is smaller..."
Budgets and spending are obviously topics close to the team's heart [see story here
], and chasing the latest development is a situation that Kaltenborn find peculiar to F1.
"Of course, we are business entities - we have to run things professionally and look at the commercial aspects - but, at the end of the day, it's a sport, so it's all about emotions," she explained, "Sometimes you have to take steps that you would not take in a 'normal' business and you have to take certain risks. We evolve so much every year, which makes the comfort zones rather marginal. If there is something new in the paddock, we also have to go for it to gain the benefits from it - by whatever means. It is a very different challenge, as it is so unpredictable - and, in the end, so irrational.
Sauber's finances would undoubtedly be bolstered should Ferrari
decide to dump Felipe Massa
and prise Perez, a member of its young driver academy, away from Hinwil but, despite the rumour mill being sent into overdrive after Malaysia, Kaltenborn insists that there has been no approach.
"After last Sunday, there is so much speculation around that we do not want to entertain or engage in," she insisted, "We do not know anything about it. We announced our driver line-up last August, that is our position and I think, right now, there is nothing more to say."