Peter Sauber interview: I'd do the same thing again 29 Apr 2010
This time last year the team he founded was under BMW control. Then the German auto giant announced its withdrawal, leaving Peter Sauber with no option but to seize the reins once more and return to the role of team principal. Four races into the 2010 season and he has his work cut out, with no major sponsors and no points on the board. Sauber, however, insists he has no regrets
Q: The first four races of 2010 haven't brought your team the results expected.
What's your verdict on the season so far?
Peter Sauber: Of course, we're all disappointed that we haven't collected any points with four races gone. After all, our aim was to be fighting for world championship points on a regular basis.
Q: What are the reasons for the way things have turned out so far?
PS: It's been a combination of factors. We've suffered too many reliability issues on both the chassis side and with our engines. That's very unusual; we've always been one of the best teams in this respect over the years.
Q: How can you solve these problems?
PS: We've closely analysed all the chassis-related problems and already put measures into effect. Our engine partner Ferrari is doing the same.
Q: But you must have been expecting more from the performance of the C29?
PS: There's no doubt that we were all expecting more after winter testing. The fact is that we're lagging behind our direct rivals. James Key, our new technical director, has already carried out some initial analysis and set out a series of measures we need to take. But he's an engineer not a miracle worker, and the measures will need a certain time to take effect. Our competitors will not be standing still either, so we have to take two steps forward at a time if we're going to make up lost ground. James is currently engaged with setting out our medium and long-term development path.
Q: But there must be more deep-seated reasons why progress is so slow?
PS: Yes, that's probably true. When I sold the team to BMW in 2006 I made a clear decision to take a step back. It was important for me to have a certain distance from things. Now I'm discovering that there's quite a lot to do. This process of analysis is underway and we will see the results in the near future.
Q: Can we expect to see the first step forwards as early as Barcelona?
PS: We will have a development package of aero modifications on the car in Barcelona. I can't say whether that will take us further up the grid, as all the teams will have improvements on their cars in Barcelona. Ultimately it will be a question of who has made the bigger step forward. What I can say is that we have to work very hard and purposefully, and we have to remain realistic.
Q: James Key has been working as part of the team since earlier this month.
What is your impression of him?
PS: James has clear ideas of how we can improve. Although he's still very young he has a lot of experience, and - very importantly - he brings fresh blood into the team. The technical progress he made at Force India speaks for itself. I'm very pleased that we were able to secure his services.
Q: There is still a lot of white on the car. When can we expect to see the arrival of new sponsors?
PS: When I bought the team at the end of November we didn't have any sponsors or a place on the grid; I went into the project with open eyes. The car was all white. However, I couldn't have predicted that the C29 would be so far off the pace. Of course it was fanciful to think we could still recruit major sponsors for 2010 at the start of the year. Having said that, we are financially secure for this season. Our search for new sponsors primarily concerns 2011, although of course that doesn't mean we aren't already trying to bring new sponsors on board this year.
Q: Would you make the same decision again, knowing how difficult it would be?
PS: At the end of November I had two choices: either take over the team or see Hinwil close its doors. The latter was not an option for me. It was always clear that it wouldn't be easy. But I'd do the same thing again!