At the launch of the Sauber C22 in Z?rich, Peter Sauber answered questions on a variety of topics, from finding finances for the team to his own history in racing.
!Q: Would you welcome the suggestion of buying used F1 cars, or parts of cars?
Peter Sauber: I said we could buy cars from Lola (single seater chassis builder) because that would make F1 cheaper. However, it was not what I was recommending!
Q: Is there much feedback between Ferrari and Sauber on tyres? (Both use Bridgestone.)
Q: How do you find your money for the team?
PS: (laughs) I don't believe it's just luck! I believe we have already made ourselves a good name, we are reliable.
Q: Are you looking for a manufacturer (to partner Sauber)?
PS: I think it's not necessary. It was possible to move forward in the past (without a manufacturer) and especially in these difficult times. Don't forget, we have seven manufacturers in F1 and I'm sure there will be a time when one or the other of them will leave. If you are with a manufacturer, they leave and then you're gone as well.
Q: Are you going to take on a test driver?
PS: No, we can drive with Felipe Massa if it's necessary.
Q: What are your thoughts on the HANS device? What if it's not comfortable and the drivers are forced to wear it?
PS: I think we will drive with this. I hope it can be altered but if there is a problem come Melbourne, I would want them (the FIA) to take responsibility.
Q: How long did you think it would take to win your first Grand Prix?
PS: I didn't think it would take this long!
Q: You started in sportscars, was F1 always your ambition?
PS: No! No, but it was eventually the next move, the right opportunity came along.
Q: Why did you decide to stop racing yourself and start building race cars?
PS: I always enjoyed driving and also constructing but I don't believe I was a successful racer!
Q: Why did you choose the drivers you have for this year?
PS: Nick (Heidfeld) has proved himself in his performances and has high potential. He should be able to finish in the top half of the field at any time. Apart from his speed, he always co-operates well with the team.
We are very pleased about Heinz-Harald Frentzen's return to the team. He was one of our junior drivers in the sportscar era, and was with us in our Formula One debut. We can expect valuable contributions from him in the way of developing the car. He has kept his natural speed despite the difficult years with Jordan, Prost and Arrows.
Q: Is it hard to be in Formula One as a privateer?
PS: Yes, it's hard. That's why we fight hard.
Peter Sauber was an interesting interview, expressive and given to broad smiles and laughter. He answered many questions with the help of an interpreter as his English is not fluent enough for interview occasions but he appeared relaxed and cheerful. He always reminds me of someone's favourite uncle and, having met him, he still does.