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Sauber hands over the keys to new team principal Monisha Kaltenborn
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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Oct 2012   |  8:07 am GMT  |  102 comments

Monisha Kaltenborn has become F1′s first woman team principal today, as Sauber F1 Team founder Peter Sauber formally handed over the running of the team to the 41 year old Austrian/Indian lawyer.

This move has been coming for some time, Sauber having transferred a third of the shares in the team to her back in May as a prelude to stepping down. Sauber is about to turn 69 and has long planned his succession.

One of F1′s best run teams, Sauber has enviable facilities and this year has produced a tremendous car, which has scored four podiums.

It is up to Kaltenborn to take it on from here and one of her first key decisions will be what to do on the driver front, with Sergio Perez leaving for McLaren and Kamui Kobayashi’s position under review, despite his podium in Japan.

Kaltenborn has made a positive impression with team principals and with the media since she became the CEO and began raising her profile in the paddock, attending team principals meetings and trying to find a way through the intractable problems of 2013 rules and cost control.

Sauber said, “We decided a long time ago that Monisha would take over from me. But we left the timing open. Now is a good time for both of us, so this is the right moment to pass on the baton. After all, there have been a number of races I’ve been unable to attend – most recently the Japanese Grand Prix, where the team put in an excellent performance. I’m in no doubt that Monisha has all the necessary skills to be an outstanding Team Principal, and I’m equally certain she will ensure that the values underpinning the company live on. That is very important to me.”

This is one of the last batons to be handed over to the next generation, only Sir Frank Williams remains of the old guard, but he has Toto Wolff waiting in the sidelines.

Kaltenborn is ambitious and plans to kick things on from where the team has got to, “Naturally I’m very aware of the major responsibility I have for Peter Sauber’s racing team,” Kaltenborn said. “He founded the team over 40 years ago, and in the spring it will be 20 years since Sauber lined up for its debut Formula One grand prix. We are the fourth-oldest team in Formula One. To build up a project like this and keep it alive in a difficult environment is a tremendous achievement. I have set my sights high and am committed to taking the team forward as Peter Sauber would want and leading it on to success.”

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102 Comments
  1. i am certain that peter sauber knows exactly what he’s doing and whoever he appoints will, in his estimation, be the right person. the fact that his appointee is a woman makes very little difference. people should be appointed solely on their ability to deliver the requisite results.

    she seems to be fully qualified to carry oni the sauber tradition and i sincerely hope that she is extremely successful.

    1. Kevin says:

      Plus 1.

    2. Jane Kay says:

      agree in 100%

    3. Mike says:

      Agree with you 100%

  2. oak says:

    good luck to her. this has to be a good thing for women and motorsport!

  3. CarlH says:

    Funny moment in the driver’s press conference this morning. The interviewer asked what they all thought of Kaltenborn becoming Team Principal & Vettel looked at Alonso like “I thought she already was?”

    1. Aaron says:

      She seems to do most of the press interviews, and although her title was officially CEO, I got the impression she was effectively doing the job of team principal for the past year or so.

  4. AENG says:

    Only one word:
    Respect!

  5. Optimaximal says:

    I do worry that Peter Sauber’s words signify it’s something more than a ‘simple’ retirement. :(

    1. Johan says:

      Indeed.

    2. ted says:

      my thoughts exactly. it seems that something else is indeed going on. i hope he is well…

  6. Kenji says:

    Congrats Monisha, please make one of the first thing you do is to keep Kamui

  7. Unlike Adam Parr, I think she seems to be well respected in the paddock, from what we can gather from the press.

    I really liked the interview you conducted for your September podcast. She’s ambitious, and at the same time she is not saying they’ll be winning every race next year.

    My opinion is that they’d be fools to have two new drivers next year. I’d definitely keep Kobayashi as a yardstick.

    Let’s also bear in mind he was one of the few overtakers pre-DRS. Who knows what the cars will be like in 2014? I’d give him a one year contract with an option for another year.

  8. Rayz says:

    Delighted for her and Peter. I hope all goes well for her and the team in the future. Frank Williams gets so much deserved praise and respect for his history in F1, I just hope people recognise that Sauber has had just as difficult a time of it and still, his team are fighting on. They even have a good car this year.

    A truly brilliant team and underdogs to be admired.

    1. Bim says:

      +1
      Peter has really shown what a well run small team can acheive over and over again theses years. He also proved how much he cared about the people who work there by steping in when BMW ran away.
      True Legend and will be missed.

      1. hippyneil says:

        Couldn’t agree more. Besides being a man of great integrity, Peter Sauber has been quite influential over the years even if people don’t realise it. He’s brought in some phenomenal talent and if his record of picking top-flight drivers is anything to go by Monisha will be a force to be reckoned with.

        I’d love to see a Sauber win a race this year as a goodbye gift to Peter and a hello gift to Monisha.

        Good luck to Peter, Monisha and the Sauber team. Race on!

  9. Chris says:

    It’s quite the contrast that while F1 announces its first female CEO, your site has a picture of a grid girl (presumably at Yeongam) at the top of it.

    I wonder when F1 get over this objectification?

    1. Richard Mee says:

      Nonsense. She looks perfectly happy to be there to me…

      Whilst F1 needs to modernise much of the ‘show’ I personally find certain ‘throw-back’ elements purely charming. The grid girls harm nobody, least of all themselves. They’re young, pretty and having a ball. Leave them alone!

    2. Dries says:

      What on earth is wrong with a picture of a gridgirl?

      1. Kevin says:

        Dude it’s the sexual objectification of women. So long as women are considered the pretty accessory to men’s sport, displaying themselves for cash, it diminishes and contrasts too greatly the achievements by women like Monica. It’s actually quite a topical issue and the power these women have (it’s called agency FYI) or don’t have is it’s own area of study. In summery those grid girls could actually be holding other women back from taking positions like Monicas and also taking their place on the grid. Conversley would Danica Patrick have had the career she had if she wasn’t attractive? Some day a woman might be put in a car for the wrong reasons and loose and eye over it. We need to stop sexually objectifying and representing sexually women in sport now.

      2. john g says:

        I guess you missed the race (was it barcelona) where they had grid boys?

        How about instead of being offended on womens behalf, you first try to seek the opinion of some of the grid girls, or even people like Monica.

      3. michael grievson says:

        I don’t mean to be rude but what utter [mod].

      4. Jodum5 says:

        Get over yourself.

      5. Bradley says:

        Nice to know there are some people here with a foot in the real world. I’m suprised at the rude comments to this – everyone should be treated with respect, and I’d rather see F1 without the gridgirls of today.

      6. Thompson says:

        I’d be more concerned about that pervert in the redbull jump suit lurking behind those tires……. I bet he’s throwing loose change on the floor.

      7. Martin P says:

        Correction…. In summery those grid girls could be wearing bikinis!

      8. terry says:

        What’s wrong with sexual objectification of both sex’s.

        Everybody is born with different skill sets and talents they some how find how to use them in their life choice.
        Their talents and skill set: some are very smart use their brain power, some have are good looking very pretty, some are good singers or actors, some are good at sports,some are good at sales and business the list can go on and on.

        I think society is past looking at it as sexual objectification now days. It just a way a individual chooses to live their life. Some people are stuck back in the 1970′s of equal rights for woman and the era of Gloria Steinem.
        Guess what it has happened the new generation they call it personal choice.
        End of rant

        Sorry about a sex fight on formula one subject about
        the retirement of one of auto racing greats Peter Sauber.
        I have always liked him and his formula one team, I always rooted for them to win or place well. His team has been the stepping stone team for most of the modren WDC and the great racers in F1. He also gave some older racer a decent send off to end their F1 racing career.

        Peter will be missed and I wish the best to the well deserving new team principal Monisha Kaltenborn who has done a great job with the team this year.
        Terry

    3. Phil R says:

      Not a whole lot else you can show with Korea, has hardly got a view or Eau Rouge or the Tifosi of Monza…A 2″ deep puddle of water maybe? 2010′s rubbish still there in 2011?

      Objectification is everywhere…

    4. AuraF1 says:

      +1 They should have an equal share of attractive half dressed male model ‘Grid-Boys’ if they want to keep the Grid Girls. I’m a straight 30 year old male but even I think the grid girl ‘tradition’ is just appealing to the unreconstructed tastes of the dinosaur generation. F1 likes to go on about how it’s pushing boundaries and frontiers and isn’t just a rich mans sport. Perhaps it could apply this attitude to social dynamics as well as technology. Besides with the plummeting viewing figures you think F1 might want to defeat the gender gap and encourage a more female friendly environment all round, for both drivers and fans.

      1. Colin B says:

        Maybe Grid Girls are out of date, but I doubt they will be going anytime soon. Just as I doubt women magazines will get rid of ‘hunk’ pages. I suppose if in the future there is a female F1 driver they will have to give her a Grid-Boy.

      2. rad_g says:

        I seriously wish there was a way to down vote comments on this page.
        If you guys have problems watching half-dressed girls who are paid to do so – please leave your sexual problems at home. Don’t advertise it here.

      3. Smeghead says:

        If they ever did a Thailand race, perhaps they could use a slew of ladyboys instead? Keeps everyone happy that way, I guess.

      4. Dave Aston says:

        Everyone?

    5. Msta says:

      I agree with Kevin and Chris. It also disgusts me when drivers on the podium spray champagne all over the girls who are sometimes up there. Women have so much more to offer than that.

    6. tim says:

      It is very strange and worrying (and also way behind the times) how women are portrayed in F1, aside from team principals that is.

  10. Andy says:

    Great news. She seems like a woman who you don’t want to mess with. Maybe she can kick some of the other team principals into shape and make the teams a more dominant force in the FIA/Bernie/Teams triumvirate.

  11. Krishna says:

    Congrats to Monisha! Ever since she came into the limelight, she has impressed so many of us. I’m sure she’ll continue to run Sauber much like the old man himself…I hope she keeps Kamui on for another season with or without sponsorship, he is a talent.

  12. Jason C says:

    Keeping that team on the grid for so long is a real achievement, so Monisha has some big shoes to fill.

    I wish her all the best, and am glad to see a woman finally get to the top in F1.

  13. jeffrey says:

    This just makes the Sauber team even more likeable. I hope this will be a trend for the future. I wish her the best of luck! (and hope she retaims Kobayashi…)

  14. Matt W says:

    I have huge respect for Peter Sauber. Not only does he have a passion for the sport, but he has a passion for the people that make up the team, as evidenced by his saving of the team after BMW called it quits.

    Sauber would have been the perfect opportunity for a team for Schumacher to invest in, if he felt so inclined.

  15. Gul says:

    Awesome to see a female team principal in F1! Wonder if we’ll see a female F1 driver soon.

  16. Only Sir Frank Williams? And what of Ross Brawn James?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s only been a TP for a few years.

  17. alan says:

    I assume the name of the team will now be changed, since sauber is no longer there.

    1. James Allen says:

      McLaren didn’t change it’s name!

      1. alan says:

        mclaren mercedes

      2. IP says:

        Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

      3. Dave C says:

        The name will live on, as like Williams will, and good luck to them, the car they produced this season is outstanding, even though it hasnt always got along with Kamui, but even still Koba has been on the front row, often high on the grid and can fight it out with the bog boys and beating them, Perez lucks into good strategies and yet failed against Alonso in Malaysia and was unable to catch and beat Hamilton at Monza, give Kamui another season hes faster than Perez and definitely a better overtaker, just need to work on the stints more

      4. Longy says:

        You mean like Sauber Ferrari, formerly Sauber BMW? ;)

      5. Monza01 says:

        It might soon revert to McLaren now that they have to buy their engines.

        Unless a change of name will cost them under Bernie’s rules over name changes.

      6. Andy says:

        No the main name is Mclaren still – even though Bruce Mclaren died a long time ago. The Mercedes part is almost irrelevant in the name, just highlights the engine used.

      7. AndyK says:

        He means they didn’t change to Dennis F1 then Whitmarsh GP after Bruce Mclaren …. Team names almost always go double barrel with the engine supplier

      8. Paul D says:

        Exactly. Not Dennis Mercedes now is it?

      9. Stan says:

        Yea but Wolf sounds so much better.

        Hopping wolf not Toto F1.

      10. AuraF1 says:

        After hearing his accent recently, I’m hoping for TERMINATOR F1.

      11. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        Theres already been a Wolf F1

      12. Peter C says:

        I asked a pal what he knew about Mclaren – he had heard of Ron Dennis, but didn’t know of Bruce Mclaren.
        The conversation came up because of the Goodwood Historic meeting, where there were McL M1s racing. He had said, ‘Funny those sports-racers are called McLarens.’

        No sense of history at all. He is now educated!

    2. David Goss says:

      They’ll need to rename Ferrari as well then.

    3. KinoNoNo says:

      Brabham is another.

      You don’t throw away 40 years of brand history so easily.

    4. db4tim says:

      I hope they do not…she is going to be great in F1 and we all hope more to come with women in the sport, not just down on eh grid

  18. alan says:

    its time frank williams moved on. if the team is to survive it needs fresh blood. its recent history speaks for itself

  19. Only Sir Frank Williams remains ? Ross Brawn is there too, isn’t he James?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s not an old guard TP and he’s only in his 50s anyway!

      1. AuraF1 says:

        It’s funny how much younger even Peter Sauber is than Bernie, yet they seem older.

        I guess Bernie’s billions keep him youthful – or at least undying…

  20. Wilma the Great says:

    This is great news! Kaltenborn has a very likeable character an I hope we will see her influence beyond her team boundaries to everyones benefit.

    Sauber has achieved very much with little resources lately and I wish them good luck in mixing up the big names in F1 (or becoming one of them).

  21. IP says:

    Maximum respect to Peter Sauber

  22. Rainman says:

    James, What happened to Carmen Ziegler after leaving Sauber. I believe she was the first female F! Team Manager when Sauber entered the championship almost 20 years ago?

  23. alan says:

    if frank william wants the best for his team he should retire. no one person should manage a team for that length of time. its far too long and the proof is in the pudding that it is never a success story. a team needs to be renewed periodically. new team principal, new staff etc etc. we wouldn’t expect to see the same drivers in a team for any more than a handful of years, so it should be with team principals. No success????? then move on to pastures new, rather than stringing out years of failure. its boring for us who have to watch and it never really gives much hope for drivers coming in to the team. williams or saauber??? mclaren or sauber??? force india or sauber??? and so on and so forth.

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      James reported some changes at the top of the Williams management team some time ago. Combined with these practical changes, the floatation puts the team into a new structure allowing the team to move forward from the days when it was a Williams/Head organisation. I think Frank has done the right thing over the past few years to get the team back to a good position before “retiring”. After all, when the FOM CEO is in his 80s, why would Frank leave?

  24. JC says:

    Good on her. She comes across very impressively and holds her own in such a male dominated sport. I just wish some of the TV pundits that are unnecessarily touchy-feely with her would give it a rest. She seems to handle it well, but it makes my skin crawl every time.

  25. P King says:

    Perhaps McLaren should have brought (along with |Perez) Monisha to the team and retired Martin Whitmarsh from his job.

    As a lawyer she is doing a better job as a Manager at Sauber; than Whitmarsh is at McLaren, who is an Engineer from a polytechnic.

  26. Baghetti says:

    Do we know if Peter Sauber is planning to keep his two thirds of the shares in the company, or whether he is planning to transfer these as well, to Monisha again or to someone else?

    1. James Allen says:

      Knowing him, he will be looking to ensure that they go into the hands of someone or some company that will ensure the long term future of the team

      He thought he had done that with BMW..

      1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        James – give the immense value of an F1 licence, not to mention the share of revenues for teams that consistently do well per Schedule 10, any reason why Peter would gift a large share of his team to someone else?

      2. James Allen says:

        You can’t take it with you!

        To keep her there is my guess. She will be tied in to a certain period to earn out in the shares

  27. Elie says:

    Congrats to Monisha- what I do like is that she keeps referring to it as Peter Saubers team and remains humbled by her successes to date . What will is irreplaceable in Peter Sauber is his instinct to find talent- a fantastic vision that will surely be missed. Peters and Kimis birthday in the same week as mine -glad to share with these guys.

  28. Pargo says:

    Very cool. I’m really enjoying the success of this team and hope they continue with many more podiums.

  29. Adrian Harris says:

    Immensely chuft for her, she stands out whenever she is interviewed and comes across really professionally and with humour as well. A great player of poker as well I suspect given all the pressure questions about Kamui.

    Good luck from a big fan

  30. 6 Wheeled Tyrrell says:

    It’s sad to see Peter Sauber gone from the grid, he is the embodiment of fair play and hard work, however MK seems like a great succesor to mr Sauber.

    It is great to see a woman in that position for the first time. She comes across as very capable, I wish her and the team the best, they deserve it!

  31. David says:

    Fourth oldest team? Presumably behind Ferrari, Williams and McLaren?

    I’m sure Jordan/Midland/Spyker/Force India and Minardi/Torro Rosso would disagree!

    And before anyone says it’s just not about the DNA of the team, but about the name too, then Tyrrell/BAR/Honda/Mercedes and Toleman/Benetton/Renault/Lotus have both!

    1. Aaron James says:

      Yes but in one form or another it’s always been Sauber, even when majority owned by BMW (Peter Sauber still owned part of it if memory recalls) rendering their continuation valid.

      If Jordan were still Jordan, then yes fair point, but they are not.

      1. David says:

        I think it’s more relevant if the staff at the team are largely the same rather than whether a single figurehead owns a portion of the team, as per Red Bull who still have a large number of people surviving from the Stewart days.

        When Frank finally sells up will Williams still be Williams? Of course it will :)

  32. James says:

    Can we expect Peter Sauber to hang around the paddock for a little while, even after his retirement? He seems to have a good presence with in the paddock, few (if any) seem to have any bad words to hold against him.

  33. Rich C says:

    How many ppl can plan for and gracefully execute their own succession??

    They need to clone Peter Sauber!

  34. D1M0NST3R says:

    Hey James Allen, im mexican and I was thinking last week “would Slim buy a Sauber in the coming years?” now i woke up and saw Peter Sauber handing over the team to Monisha, Slim keeping the sponsorship with Sauber, what are the odds for this to happen? i mean, Slim Domit likes to spend money on their teams… (btw, sorry about my lame english)

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      Better to be a sponsor. That way you can easily shift your brand to another team if the original one fails to deliver, or if you want to move a sponsored driver etc. I think RB recognised that a few years back when they tried to sell TR and concentrate on placing drivers.

  35. forzaminardi says:

    She’s very obviously an incredibly sharp cookie. I have to say that I have massive respect for Peter Sauber. Despite keeping a low profile, his charm, character, personal integrity and passion for racing is very clear to see. Seeing his response to Perez’s result in Malaysia was one of the season’s more emotional moments for me, and I hope the results this year have rewarded him for the huge personal and financial risk he took bringing the team back from the brink when BMW left. I hope Monisha takes Sauber to the next level and Peter can enjoy watching his cars win a GP while relaxing at home with a good cigar on the side.

  36. Hermann says:

    I’ve been following Sauber for quite some time now and Monisha seems to be very competent in this role. I do hope she does really well. Good luck Monisha!

  37. Dan says:

    Since the Group C days of the 80s, I’ve admired Peter Sauber. Sauber have been a team I’ve watched with interest, seeming to evoke the proper spirit of F1 rather than a large corporate brand (granted, the BMW days). Hopefully this keeps the team in steady hands into the future………

  38. AuraF1 says:

    To be honest I didn’t really appreciate Sauber’s history in the sport. Stories like this really help put into perspective what someone like Peter Sauber is like, has achieved and represented well.

    Nothing to do with Monisha’s gender, but I would put good money on Sauber being the team that puts the first full time female F1 driver on the grid. They seem to have the team DNA that is open to new ideas and willing to go a slightly different way.

    I’ll be very happy when they score their first win – hopefully next year, or at least by 2014.

  39. Tom says:

    Would love to see Sauber win a race this year, they’re a great team and Peter Sauber seems like nice guy amongst the piranha club.

    Be equally nice to see them pick up some big sponsors!

  40. Smeghead says:

    Sauber has always impressed me, but their performance over the last few years has been outstanding.

    Monisha Kaltenborn has played no small part in that effort, and it’s great to see her being recognised as such. She deserves it.

  41. Thompson says:

    I too thought she was running things already.

    and can someone explain why Koby ‘s drive is under threat – he’s performance as been solid, Perez as done well but its not like he’s totally destroying Kobayashi – whats up with that?

  42. Tarun Luthra says:

    strange that it has taken so long for a woman to get the top job in F1. I think she has been doing a great job so far…well good luck for the future!

  43. Boris says:

    Day 0: Monisha Kaltenborn has become team principal
    Day 1: Kamui Kobayashi needs to bring sponsorship

    Very very bad start, Monisha

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      I love Monisha, she has such an explicit body language than we can clearly understand what is going on, for example when she talked about Kobayashi hopes for 2013.

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      I don’t think you can expect anything else from Monisha. She is very bright and educated, that tends to cool things off when it comes to question of money. I’d imagine Frank Williams have a word for that kind of thing :)

  44. DanWilliams from Aust says:

    Her first task is to keep KOB!!!

  45. Dave Aston says:

    Dear Ms Kaltenborn. Best wishes on your appointment. Please keep Kobayashi. The fans love him. You need him. Please find a way!

  46. Liam the Lawyer says:

    I think it’s great she has been appointed. When was the last time they had a lawyer as team principal?

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