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Kaltenborn under threat as Sauber CEO?

23 July 2013

Monisha Kaltenborn's tenure as a F1 team principal could be under threat as a result of Sauber F1's new Russian backers who are pouring in an estimated $500 million into the team over the coming months.

According to reports in the Swiss media, the new investors will want their own person in hands-on charge of the team once the new deal goes through and the money starts to show up in the team's bank accounts, which is expected to be in late August.

"Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn's time seems over," reported Swiss German-language daily newspaper Blick. "When and by whom she will be replaced remains open."

Kaltenborn will likely be only one of the big management changes that will sweep through the Sauber team in coming months, with the much of the current engineering staff also set to be replaced by staff loyal to the new shareholders, which is described as "a Russian group close to President Vladimir Putin."

It's already been announced that 17-year-old Formula Renault 3.5 Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin is being lined up as a driver for the team in some capacity in 2014, putting question marks over the team's current drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Gutiérrez.

And Sauber's former chief designer Matt Morris exited he team at the end of last month to take up a new post as engineering director at the struggling McLaren team. Sauber's former head of concept design Eric Gandelin was promoted into the vacant post but may be among the personnel whose role is also reconsidered in the coming months.

Monisha Kaltenborn became the first-ever female F1 team principal when she took over the role from Peter Sauber in January 2010. The 42-year-old was handed a 33.3% stake in the team by Sauber in May 2012, and it's not clear how the latest bail-out deal affects her holding.

The Sauber team was forced to seek new investors after amassing a reported $110 million debt which has left it struggling to continue operations. Paddock reports have suggested that some staff haven't been paid their wages in recent months, with Nico Hülkenberg's agents said to have concluded that the German driver's contact with the team has been effectively terminated with immediate effect as a result, although Hülkenberg will continue to drive for the team at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.

Peter Sauber himself is said to be fighting hard to maintain the team's name and its traditional Swiss base in Hinwil, as well as proposing a new Swiss-centric management team with Franke CEO Michael Pieper, Phonak's Andy Rihs and Denner's Philippe Gaydoul all linked with potentially taking over from Kaltenborn in charge of the team.

It's likely that the new investors will 'write off' the remainder of 2013 and concentrate on establishing the new team structure and line-up for the start of the 2014 season. That means that although the financial deal is expected to be completed in the next four weeks, the more high profile changes in the team might not be rolled out until nearer the end of the current calendar year.


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