Monisha Kaltenborn confident scoreless Sauber will fight way out of their 2014 slump
Chief admits team paying unexpected big price for '13 upgrade push
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/08/14 11:33am
Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn is “absolutely confident” the struggling Swiss team will work their way out of their current slump as they bid to avert the first point-less season in their history.
From proving one of the form midfield teams at the end of last season, Ferrari-powered Sauber have slipped down the order following the winter switch to turbo engines and along with perennial backmarkers Caterham are the only team still to score a point in 2014.
The Hinwil-based outfit’s top-ten drought means they currently sit tenth behind Marussia in the Constructors’ Championship and facing the prospect of the worst finishing position in their 21-year F1 history.
However, after showing small signs of improvement with the C33 in the three races before the summer break, Kaltenborn believes the corner is beginning to be turned and it is now imperative that the team take any points chances that come their way in the final eight grands prix.
“I am absolutely confident that we will move back up again,” she said in an interview with F1’s official website. “It will take a bit of time. We are moving in the right direction - and, of course, I hope that things change in this season - so I take it event by event.
“We had our chances in the last few events but haven’t made use of them. We have to make sure in the race that we don’t make mistakes when these opportunities come up.”
Sauber experienced a relatively similar poor start to 2013 – they scored just seven points up to the summer break – but a big development drive in the second half of the season yielded 50 points and seventh place in the standings.
However, Kaltenborn now concedes that last year’s push had more negative longer-term consequences than expected.
“If you look at the performance itself - I think with all the optimism you can imagine (and I have a lot of optimism) - I cannot see anything positive," she said on Sauber's 2014 form so far.
“What I think we have to keep in mind is why we are where we are today. That goes back to last season where we took a decision to continue on that year’s car, knowing full well that this would mean taking a considerable risk on the new 2014 car, and the development of that car in light of the massive changes which were coming up. We took that decision and it turned out to be the right decision for last season, but we didn’t expect that we would be facing as many issues as we are now.”
Kaltenborn, who refused to point the finger of blame for the team’s struggles at long-time engine supplier Ferrari – “this car is definitely not one of the better cars that we’ve built,” she admitted – added that there were several areas at the team that were being addressed to improve performance, including the perennial issue of funding.
“We are looking at different areas that we need to improve - on the aerodynamic side of the car, we can do more on the set-up, and bring new bits and pieces to every race,” she explained.
“As a team we have to avoid the mistakes that we’ve been making. On the powertrain side our possibilities are limited, but I am sure that something has already happened there.
“And, of course, with a team like ours it’s always a question of funding - looking at the possibilities that we have, the infrastructure that we have and the abilities that we have. If you have sufficient funding you can immediately put this into development, and with us that always then shows in performance. These are the issues that we are working on.”