Sauber and BMW announced this week that the German manufacturer has acquired a majority interest in the team and Peter Sauber anticipates the input from the new management will quickly make an impact. Sauber has struggled to compete with the...
Sauber and BMW announced this week that the German manufacturer has acquired a majority interest in the team and Peter Sauber anticipates the input from the new management will quickly make an impact. Sauber has struggled to compete with the better financed teams in F1 but it has plenty of scope for development with a company like BMW holding the reins.
"The impact will be felt very fast," Sauber said in an interview with team sponsor Credit Suisse. "We have a state-of-the-art wind tunnel that is underutilized now because we don't have the personnel. We're operating only a single shift, whereas our competitors run three shifts."
"We want to change that, so we're going to increase our personnel as quickly as possible, but with all due caution of course. The same is true, for instance, of the test team, which only operates one car, while everyone else is using two. This is another handicap that we want to eliminate as quickly as possible."
Part of the deal with BMW was that Sauber's base in Hinwil, Switzerland, along with its staff, would be safeguarded for the future. The team will be expanded and will work jointly with BMW headquarters in Munich. As for Peter Sauber himself, he will no longer have an operational role in the team, although he will act as a consultant to BMW.
So how does he feel now the deal has been done? "On the one hand, I feel very relieved that the company with which I am so closely connected is in good hands. Since I started in Formula 1 racing, about ten different teams have come and gone. On the other hand, retiring from active involvement is certainly not easy for me. I think I won't really know what it means for me for another few weeks yet."
BMW is scheduled to complete the take over by the beginning of 2006, when the new name of the team and key personnel, including the driver line up, are due to be announced. Of course, the rumours are mounting about whom the drivers might be for next season -- Nick Heidfeld has already been linked with a return to Hinwil but for the moment it's all speculation.
Current Sauber driver Jacques Villeneuve welcomes BMW's involvement. "I think this news is very good for the team and I am very pleased that the deal could be concluded," he said." It will trigger an almost certain budget increase for the entire operation and will allow the engineers and the drivers to develop the car further more -- and therefore become more competitive."