Things aren’t looking financially sound at Sauber and rumor has it that the team are working diligently toward a sponsorship deal to find the cash to keep going. If rumors are true, some vendors have not been paid and when asked directly, at the German Grand Prix, if he had been paid, driver Nico Hulkenberg refused to comment. To those ends, AUTOSPORT’s line of inquiry may not come as a surprise when asked about the driver’s longevity with the team. Team boss Monisha Kaltenborn told AS:
NO….she didn’t say that. She said:
“Nico is very important for the team, because he is the more experienced driver and we expect that guidance from him,” Kaltenborn told AUTOSPORT.
“He has been doing a fantastic job so far. But we never stand in anybody’s way.
“We will announce our drivers season-by-season and we are not going to change that.
“He is our driver for this season, and there is no more to add to that.”
The issue for many Formula One fans is the lingering thought that Nico Hulkenberg may be the best driver not in a decent ride and some consider him a good option for Ferrari or even Lotus F1 should Kimi Raikkonen move on to Red Bull pastures. Could the German be on his way out and if so, who would replace him at Sauber?
AUTOSPORT says that the team may be close to securing the backing of Russian brothers Boris and Arkady Rotenberg who are billionaire co-owners of SMP Bank and the SGM Group. Apparently the Carlos Slim connection isn’t paying out additional resources after planting Esteban Gutierrez in a seat for 2013.
While Kaltenborn admits that the team are facing tough times, she says they will see out the rest of the season as they seek further financial investment. This all has a tinge of a black eye for the first female team boss as Peter Sauber turned the reigns over to her this year. Monisha has a Master’s Degree in International Law and was the team’s legal representative back in the early 2000’s. She knows the team very well and understands F1 but finding sponsors and wearing the sales hat is a different story.
Time will tell if Sauber can rebound but suffice to say, the lack of James Key seems to have made a serious dent in the teams performance in 2013 and selling mediocrity is not and easy thing to do as evidenced by Williams F1. The difference is that Williams has multiple business units to keep things afloat while Sauber is a true privateer in the purist sense of the word.