Sauber aiming to keep, not nurture, talent
13 February 2013
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has laughed off suggestions that F1 introduce a transfer system so that smaller teams developing drivers can be compensated when they move on.
Whilst the sport's minnows may welcome a chance to bring in extra finance, Kaltenborn insists that Sauber's ambitions are bigger, aiming to produce better results in order to be the team that attracts the talent rather than merely sees it passing through on its way to somewhere bigger.
“I wouldn't really support such an idea from our perspective,” she confirmed, “For us, the push would rather be on ourselves to develop a car that is competitive enough so that drivers stay with us. We should be competitive enough that drivers see their future with us. What we have already achieved is drivers coming to us - we don't go out looking for drivers. All drivers who have been through our team have all come to us. That already is quite an asset for the team. Now we need to take the next step.”
With Sergio Perez the latest driver to move up the grid after spending his formative years with Sauber – see also the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica in recent seasons – Sauber begins 2013 with the all-new line-up of Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez after promoting the Mexican from reserve to partner the former Williams and Force India driver.
Despite the change, however, Kaltenborn remains confident that Sauber can continue to make forward progress after finishing 2012 in sixth place in the constructors' standings.
“It is not such a radical change compared to some of the previous years,” she told the official F1 website, “With Esteban, we have a driver who we know, which makes a difference. We have not only followed and supported him, we have also worked with him effectively during his young driver days, so you do have an advantage over somebody you don't know at all. With Esteban, we know his strengths and weaknesses, as we have seen him develop over the years. He, on the other hand, knows by now how the team works and what we expect. That makes a big difference, so you are spared the phase of getting to know each other. With him it is about moving on to the next phase where he is now the race driver, which he wasn't until now.
“With Nico, of course, you have a new situation, but here we have an advantage compared with previous driver line-ups in that he is already an experienced driver. We realised that, when he came to us, the adaptation process is much shorter as both sides know very well what they want and you just have to find your common ground.”
Kaltenborn's claim that drivers tended to seek out Sauber and not the other way around is underlined by Hulkenberg's decision to move from Force India over the winter. The German ended his 2012 campaign in the points for Vijay Mallya's team, but could it have been even better after leading the Interlagos finale for some time.
“We expect him to maintain his performance, especially after what we saw last year,” Kaltenborn said of her new recruit, “That impressed us a lot: how he got his chance and took the opportunity. This is something that we were lacking last year. Our efficiency in this respect was not very high and, in him, we see that strength - that he will make use of the potential that our car hopefully will have.
“Last year, we heard from so many sides that we had huge potential - we just couldn't utilise that and translate it into points. We expect Nico to do that and, in a way, also give guidance to the engineers with his experience.
“I hope for a lot more than last year. The major reason for that is, first and foremost, the car. We have based it on the 2012 car and have focused a lot on eliminating any weaknesses we felt it had. Secondly, in the team, we have stability and continuity which is a huge asset. On top of this, we have two drivers who we think can really utilize this potential. We are set up well!”