The move has been expected for some time with Peter Sauber having transferred 30% of his holdings to his successor after the end of last season. It is however still a historic day for the sport and shows, once again, that in motorsport talent and not gender allows people to rise to the top.
For Kaltenborn the move comes after 12 years with the Swiss squad. She joined the team in 2000 to run their legal department and quickly rose through their ranks to become a board member. When Peter Sauber bought the team back from BMW he quickly earmarked Kaltenborn as his future successor and gave her an ever increasing work load.
These tasks have included promoting the Indian born lawyer to CEO in 2010 and having her look after all business operations while team founder Sauber handled the on track responsibilities. The 69 year old however was considering his future in the sport and vowed that he would no longer play an active role on the pit wall when he turned 70.
Handing the operational reigns over to Kaltenborn with immediate effect means that in Sauber’s last race as a team principal he saw one of his cars finish on the rostrum with Kamui Kobayashi finishing third in Japan.
“We decided a long time ago that Monisha would take over from me,” explains Sauber, “but we left the timing open. Now is a good time for both of us. 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.”
Having made their Formula 1 debut in 1993 Sauber are now the fourth oldest team in the pitlane and having been a manufacturer team in the last five years, as BMW, have exceptional facilities and the possibility of continuing their success in 2012 in the future.
That future, and the legacy she has been handed, was on Kaltenborn’s mind as she discussed her new role:
“Naturally I’m very aware of the major responsibility I have for Peter Sauber’s racing team,” says Kaltenborn. “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.
“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.”
Losing Sergio Perez to McLaren will be a set back for the team’s hopes in 2012 but with Telmex having confirmed their continuation as a lead sponsor and with most of their budget for next season in place it is clear that building upon their surprising campaign will be an achievable target.
In their 19 years on the grid the team has only claimed one victory, as BMW, but their future is looking very bright as they look forward to a milestone season in 2013.