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Post-season interview with Peter Sauber 15 Oct 2003

Peter Sauber (SUI) Sauber Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 6 March 2003

Peter Sauber looks back on a difficult season for his team and explains why his team's ten-point haul from Indianapolis was the most important result in their 11-year history.

Question: This season was a sort of roller coaster for the Sauber team. How do you feel, now that it's all over?
Peter Sauber:
I feel great relief! Before the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis it was the most difficult season we have had so far in Formula One. It put a lot of pressure on everybody. Now I'm just relaxed and I'm very happy for the whole team and our sponsors who supported us so loyally.

Q: Two months ago, would you ever have believed you could achieve sixth place in the constructors' championship?
PS:
To be honest, not really! We were struggling with the aerodynamics of the C22. It took us some time to analyse and understand the problem. We finally did this and were able to make considerable progress during the summer, which was reflected in an improved performance in the Hungarian and Italian Grands Prix. For different reasons, this did not result in us scoring any points. And then came Indy, with Heinz-Harald finishing on the podium and Nick fifth. This was the most precious result in the history of the team, and it saved the whole season. It was, by the way, also the first time that a Sauber car had led a Grand Prix.

Q: A lucky moment obviously!
PS:
It would not be right to call this just luck. In this game you make your own luck. Thus it was the well deserved reward for all the people in the team who never gave up working on the car and improving it until the last race. And both drivers did a fabulous job. I'm happy not only for the team but also for Heinz-Harald and Nick, who achieved an excellent result after a difficult season. I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to both of them for showing such professional attitudes under difficult conditions this year, and I wish them all the best for their future.

Q: What does it mean to you to be in front of two of the big works teams?
PS:
It means a lot to me! I rate this sixth place in the constructors' championship almost as high as our fourth position two years ago. In 2001, Toyota was not present and not all the works teams were really sorted out. This has changed drastically in the meantime. With seven car manufacturers being seriously involved in Formula One, competition has reached a level which is simply unbelievable. We are talking about global players that generate turnovers between US$50 billion and 150 billion annually. It's extremely satisfying that Sauber as an independent team was able to beat two of these big car manufacturers.

Q: What about next year?
PS:
The competition will be even tougher, because they will all try to fight for victories and the title.

Q: In the environment you have described, is there room left for an independent team such as Sauber?
PS:
Absolutely! It's a very tough time, for sure, but we are in a good position. With Petronas, Credit Suisse and Red Bull we have very loyal partners who enable us to pursue a forward-looking strategy. This is reflected by our new state-of-the-art wind tunnel which we are currently building next to our factory in Hinwil.

Q: When will this be operational?
PS:
If everything continues to go according to plan, we can start work next February, which means that we can do the ongoing development of the C23 using this fantastic new tool. I have no doubt that this wind tunnel will give Sauber a major boost in the medium-term.