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Monisha Kaltenborn leaves Sauber – who is in line to lead the Swiss F1 team?
Posted By: Editor   |  21 Jun 2017   |  12:39 pm GMT  |  107 comments

Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn has left the Formula 1 team with immediate effect after five years in the job before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Kaltenborn was head of Sauber’s legal department from 2000 and became the Swiss outfit’s CEO in 2010 as former chief Peter Sauber stepped back; the first female boss in F1 also owned a third of Sauber until 2016.

Swiss financier Longbow Finance acquired Sauber last year as the team faced financial difficulty, and Kaltenborn gave up her shares. It is believed that the private investor was a catalyst for Kaltenborn’s departure yesterday.

The constructor is rumoured to have lined-up former HRT and Force India boss Colin Kolles to fill the vacant role. The Romanian dentist turned adviser worked with Caterham’s F1 owners in 2014, before it went into administration.

At the time, F1 Management chief Bernie Ecclestone referred to Kolles as a “competent guy”, praising his ability to “get in there and clean things up a lot, stop [Caterham] wasting money and…get it on track.”

In 2013, Kolles was revealed to have recorded a Toto Wolff conversation about Mercedes’ management having also attempted to blackmail the leading F1 outfit’s Executive Director.

Ecclestone stepped in to settle the dispute between the two while Mercedes obtained a court order to stop the release of the conversation.

Sauber recently made a deal with Honda to use its engines from 2018 – it currently uses Ferrari’s 2016-spec units.

The team sits ninth in the constructors’ championship through Pascal Wehrlein’s four points, which he earned in Spain before the race at Baku.


Sauber F1 has released a statement addressing Kaltenborn’s departure:

“Longbow Finance SA regrets to announce that, by mutual consent and due to diverging views of the future of the company, Monisha Kaltenborn will leave her positions with the Sauber Group effective immediately. We thank her for many years of strong leadership, great passion for the Sauber F1 Team and wish her the very best for the future. Her successor will be announced shortly; in the meantime we wish the team the best of luck in Azerbaijan.”

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Rumours flying that her position became untenable because Longbow wanted to make Marcus Ericsson the number one driver and Kaltenborn disagreed. That would be dumbfounding, if true. I just don’t understand what people see in Ericsson – his record in GP2 was inconsistent at best and he’s been beaten by every teammate he’s had in F1. He probably was stronger than Nasr overall last year, in spite of not scoring any points, but this is Felipe Nasr we’re talking about – the Poundshop Felipe Massa. Not bad, but hardly Sterling Moss.

I just can’t understand why you’d sacrifice a team principal who’s steered the team through some very turbulent times for such a mediocre driver.


So they are replacing the lawyer, with a dentist! Between that and having to manage the poorest driver on the grid (and his money), and dropping a Honda donk in the back next year….well i’m not surprised Sauber are where they are….


Not so unusual. Didn’t Caterham put a cleaner in charge?

anthony Jenkins

Donald Trump, once he is impeached? ‘Make Sauber great again!’


sounds and looks more like she had enough of them, not the other way around.


You want to use WHAT engines next year?!!
Gross misconduct, bringing the company in to disrepute, instant dismissal!


I think she did some good or Sauber probably wouldn’t be around. But Kolles does not seem like the answer… he always came off as a shady/swindler/con artist type to me.


who better o take care of f1 than carey?


Is this the beginning of the end for Sauber? Could we see Sauber pulling out before the start of the 2018 season and McLaren using merc engines, leaving Honda without any PUs in the field?

After all Merc engines at McLaren are almost a certain if Wolff can get Alonso in return, send Bottas back to Williams. Giovinizzi to Ferrari to get an Italian back on the prancing horse, sirotkin in for palmer? Bye bye Ericsson and Werhlein?

In think we’re in for a good silly season this year


Sparks would fly if Alonso were heading to Merc !

You are right @Chris_S, this year’s silly season could become even more entertaining than the races themselves! ;o)


Maybe Ron Dennis should be looking at Sauber, he could finish off the job he started with Honda, successfully one would hope

søren christensen

Fully understandable, that Ms Kaltenborn packs up and leaves, when an ignorant chairman, with zero knowledge about F1 starts to interfere in the daily business, and wants to favor a driver (Ericsson).
You can give her a lot of credit, that the team is alive today. Yes, there have been a couple of mistakes. But essentially, she was fighting for the survival of the team, and the employment of the good people at Sauber ever since she took over after Peter Sauber. No mean feat, I would think.
Who would want to replace her?? Well, I am sure a more than average strong and talented character, who can stand up to the investors, is needed. I would go for Fred Vasseur.
Maybe Colin Kolles. I do not see him as a extremely talented in F1 terms, but then he might fit well in with Mr. Picci.
In any case, if Longbow starts seeing their investment going wrong, they can only blame themselves


Fully understandable,

I agree. You’ve got to laugh really – MK had 20+ years experience in the F1 paddock and has steered Sauber through some very choppy waters . The guy at Longbow has attended less than 10 races (according to reports I’ve read) and he reckons he knows best. Well he won’t be the first , or the last, rich man to find out he doesn’t know it all. The other problem is how many key people at Sauber will be loyal to MK and disappear as well? Apparently it’s always been something of a struggle to recruit top engineers who are prepared to up sticks and live in Switzerland . Not good news for Sauber I fear.


@ C63….I feel that you are missing the big picture. When an investment is going nowhere and the future looks grim from a ‘performance’ aspect, questions need to be asked. If those answers are not acceptable then change needs to be implemented, keeping in mind that those who pay the bills are entitled to an opinion and a fair hearing. Sauber were/are going nowhere ATM and if i was a major sponsor/shareholder i would also be shaking the branches. I am equally sure that there is far more to this than we’ll ever know so my take is simply speculation.


I don’t disagree about those paying the bills deserving a voice – clearly they do. However, I’m not sure about the wisdom of letting MK go (assuming they did, maybe she walked and they couldn’t keep her) I read elsewhere she is considered to be pretty smart – I don’t know if that’s true of course and it’s also fair to say the guy heading Longbow can’t exactly be a dim wit. As you say ; chances are there’s more to this than meets the eye . I guess time will tell.


Kolles gets a mention every time a lower placed F1 team needs a boss.He is a bit like the Sam Allerdyce of motorsport.
Considering all the male run teams that have come and gone since Kaltenborn was at Sauber she wasn’t doing bad.
Maybe the new regime are hoping to get brought out by Honda and make themselves a tidy sum and she didn’t want to be involved.


After many races its obvious that Marcus Ericsson only has a F1 race seat due to the money he pays for it. Too bad that Swiss owner Longbow Finance are so money fixated that they dictate driver preferential treatment based on that.


Sorry to elaborate further to my own previous posting, but it appears not many know the true background and reach/connections of the Longbow Finance group and also why I hinted towards the sudden Ericson preference versus Wehrlein, who otherwise has been the Sauber driver getting the work done and collecting the vital points to the team.

So what is the connection:
(if you have access to aka Bloomberg Finance online, you can lookup these records) Longbow is essentially led by Baer, a Swiss who literally socially and professionally are connected to everyone — and every business — worth knowing in Switzerland! He is connected to 14 boards in three different organizations across four different industries. And here across these company filing records it comes across:

Longbow used to be named ‘TetraL Investment Management’. Residing at 70 Avenue du General-Guisan, in Pully, Switzerland, as they still are today. That is also the current contact address for Tetra Laval International SA, the parent company of Tetra Pak and owned by a certain Swede Hans Rausing, the 53rd richest person in the world. A vivid vintage car collector and, yes you guessed it, the personal sponsor of the only Swedish driver on the grid.
How many Strolls do we need? With personal and private x-Ferrari MS engineers and exclusive access to the team’s most advanced simulator and other pranks that only rich kids can buy. Now team principals and what is next they will dictate? Is this good for F1?

Tornillo Amarillo

Werlein’s escaped from Minor debacle and now this meltdown at Sauber, this year was really bad for him, Bottas got the Merc drive and Pascal got injured missing two races. And last year was not better, it is true he scored a point, but the newcomer Ocon just got the promotion to Force India.
After all those problems, at the end of the day to finish P8 in Barcelona sounds pretty good for him and for Sauber…
Opinions Honda “buying” Sauber have a lot of sense, since Williams had to deny a partnership with the Japaneses.


not pleased with this decision at all, but I guess if anyone’s head was going to roll at sauber it could only have been monisha’s, wonder what the real reason for this move is considering the team was so good under her leadership before the change to v6’s (a little faith would be nice I guess, wouldn’t be f1 though)

In other news, what conversation did kolles record? bernie stepping in to keep someone silent, along with a court order, can’t wait for kolles to write a book when he turns grey


Hmmmmm … here’s a suggestion from waaaaay out in Left Field.
After the comments made by Chase Carey about the future, one of which was having a female driver in F1 and attracting more women to the sport, I wonder if this could be a prelude to something extremely unexpected when the new Concorde Agreement comes into effect in 2020 … an all female F1 team to kick off the newest generation of F1.
Monisha could be the one to do it after her years of learning the intricacies of the F1 game.
A project like that would take at least 2 years to put together and it would be the most ground-breaking, massive marketing tool the new F1 owners could possibly conjure.
Who knows, they could do it with Clare Williams’ and Merc’s support, in a similar way to HAAS has with Ferrari.
There are more and more very determined, extremely clever women entering the world of high technology and engineering every day. The only setback would be finding 3 drivers with the skills and dedication to run at such a high level against the best drivers in the world.
I guess such a team couldn’t do any worse than the past 10 back-marker teams that have come into F1, run around at the tail of the field some 7 secs per lap off the pace and left without a whimper when they go broke.
There would be no shortage of companies who would partner a female team and the media circus which follows it closely from it’s inception would be unprecedented.
At least they would have a massive instant following with no real expectations to somehow, someday, miraculously become WCC. Usually what happens when a new team arrives is, too much expectation, not enough success to gain lucrative long-term support from like-minded business partners and inevitably … miserable failure.

At least Monisha has plenty of experience with a back-marker team which has a lack of success so she would have no crazy delusions of instantaneous grandeur.

Come to think of it, Jean Todt has recently commented about the FIA wanting 12 teams / 24 cars on the grid …. interesting times!


When Kolles is involved, it’s always bad news.

Whether by accident or design, he only seems to arrive at teams in serious trouble. He’s basically F1’s grim reaper.

Add into that their money saving by running old engines this year… add into that their strange decision to go to Honda next year (not so strange if Honda are paying them, which let’s face it, they’d have to).

None of it looks good.

That said we don’t know exactly how bad thing shave been at Sauber for a long time. On the surface Monisha looked wildly incompetent but i suspect a lot of that was desperation to keep the team afloat by any means required. For all we know she pulled off a miracle keeping them afloat!


I think Monisha pulled of a miracle every month to keep the team alive which meant some mistakes were made together with a lot of compromises.


……have NEVER thought “gee, I think F1 needs more lawyers”…..wasn’t that Monisha’s background? having seen Max operate first hand, I always thought F1 needed more Racers, ala Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, etc, etc. Even though I haven’t been involved personally in F1 since 1980, thought that I could have had a more positive impact on the team than she did………


Oh yeah Sauber is going to be sell to Honda for sure.

MK did kept Sauber afloat during tough years when other teams collapse, but she also made a lot of mistakes and the team has been always at risk, so its good she steps away.

Also that pretty much clears the air for Mclaren running Mercedes next year.


Probably a disagreement on the technical side, she wanted a two seater f1 car, to accommodate all the drivers she was hoping to sign, much to her dismay, Zorgs upgrade a Monaco still only had a single seat.


I wonder if the rumoured new team, allegedly backed or owned by Chinese is really Sauber about to change ownership?


Forget the shady dentist, so who was Wolff saying was no good in Mercedes management?

Does Wolff not like Dr Z?

(Images of Star Wars Rogue One with the general giving it all me me me, to Darth Vader who was, well, not amused. Know your place Wolff…)


This is the article about the blackmail.

Ex-Formula One team boss Kolles tried to blackmail Wolff
Update: The person who attempted to blackmail Toto Wolff has been revealed as the former HRT boss in Formula One.

Jul.17 (GMM) Former HRT boss Colin Kolles tried to blackmail Mercedes chief Toto Wolff earlier this year, it has emerged.

We reported earlier that a conversation between Austrian Wolff and a then-unnamed former F1 team boss was “secretly recorded” and then threatened to be used against him.

Bild newspaper had said Wolff spoke negatively about his own boss, Ross Brawn, colleague Niki Lauda, and also Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, whilst divulging details of his clashing co-ownership of the Williams team.

A subsequent report by the magazine Sport Bild said Wolff had been taped in mid February this year by former HRT and Force India boss Kolles, in Barcelona.

That report said Kolles then threatened to release the details of their explosive conversation unless he paid a sum of money.

Reportedly, Wolff and Kolles have settled their dispute with the intervention of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, while Mercedes has obtained a court order preventing the publication of the details of the conversation.

Sport1 said Kolles would not comment, and Mercedes also declined to comment.

The German news agency SID said Wolff could not be reached at time of publication.

Carlos Marques

You know what they say when “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”? Well, the opposite can be said for anyone who buys Honda F1 engines…


I think she handled herself quite well over the years, keeping the team going through some pretty tough times. The driver contract problem was a pretty minor bump in the road I think (I mean VDG? C’mon!). Many teams have handled drivers in a worse fashion.

I can’t believe Kolles is seriously being considered. That’s a disaster for sure.

I wonder if this is Longbow actually looking to exit F1 and Honda looking to rebuild a works team knowing they will divorce McLaren? Sauber are ripe for a manufacturer takeover – it’s a cheaper way to enter the sport then pay for a new entry.


If the rumors about (CK) are true then RIP Sauber.


I’m another who finds it hard to find a good word for Kolles. He’s been involved in 4 failed F1 teams. Midland which was sold to Spyker which was sold VJ Malia to become force India which began to enjoy success after he went, and HRT and Caterham both of which went out of business. I wouldn’t want to be in the same place as him.

Instant departures tend to mean someone was fired or resigned in very angry circumstances, so we can only guess what happened with Monisha. Anyone want to bet against Sauber becoming Honda, and McLaren having a different engine in 2018 ?

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