17 March 2015
F1 Australian Grand Prix: Kaltenborn praises Sauber, Nasr on ‘rough weekend’
A relieved Monisha Kaltenborn praises the efforts of the team and her drivers as Sauber makes a long-awaited return to the points in style at Albert Park
Sauber principal Monisha Kaltenborn has lavished praise on her team after Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson returned the team to the top ten in the Australian Grand Prix despite being the subject of legal wrangles off-track.
The Swiss team dominated the headlines in the run up to the race after becoming embroiled in a bitter court dispute with former reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, who laid claim to one of the race drives based on a contract he signed with the team in 2014.
Though the Melbourne Supreme Court would uphold van der Garde's case – effectively leaving Sauber with three race drivers for the Australian race -, the Dutchman eventually dropped his pursuit for the seat on the Saturday of the race weekend, leaving Nasr and Ericsson free to race.
Despite missing FP1 as arguments continued, Nasr and Ericsson nonetheless bounced back in the races, putting in career-best performance to finish fifth and eighth, in turn scoring Sauber's first F1 points since 2013 having failed to reach the top ten in 2014.
On a weekend that has seen her come under fire for her handling of the contractual errors with the three drivers, a smiling Kaltenborn has paid tribute to the Sauber team for keeping its focus and turning in such an impressive performance,
“It's been a rough weekend, but what really impressed me about the team is how they could stay focused and the drivers as well because they are more exposed to the media and it is not easy for them,” she said. “They had their head in the right place and showed a great performance.
“I am very impressed by Felipe's performance,” she continued. “For me the most impressive part was how he managed the race. You always have the fear with a rookie in certain situations because he lacks experience, but you can't even blame him for that, mistakes will be made, but he didn't do that. He remained so calm, so focused, very rational and that is the impressive part for me.”
The team's first points since the 2013 United States Grand Prix, Kaltenborn is particularly pleased to have shown Sauber's eye-catching pre-season pace wasn't overstated.
“It has been too long [since last points]. It is important for the motivation of the team. The team has worked very hard at home and over the winter, it's not been an easy time. We had to make sure that we not only saw improvements in the powertrain, there has to be improvements in the chassis as well because the entire package has to be a competitive one.
“You could see certain potential in the winter tests and I am glad we could show those people who felt that we were just doing some kind of show runs out there that we didn't. This is a start. We remain realistic, we don't know what's going to happen in the next races but at least the potential is there and it is competitive.”
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