Q+A with Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn

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Four podium finishes and 126 World Championship points made the 2012 season a highly successful one for the Sauber F1 Team. It’s a performance the Swiss team is now looking to build on and thus continue on its upward curve. Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn gives her thoughts on the issues of the moment.

Ms Kaltenborn, in three days the Sauber C32-Ferrari will turn its first wheel out on the track. What are your feelings going into the roll-out? “I’m very excited. The roll-out of a new car is a very special moment every year. It’s something you’ve been working towards for almost a year and then you get your first impressions of how good a job you’ve done. Everyone in the team is excited about this moment, because everyone has played their part in it.”

What are your expectations? “This is another of those questions one is asked every year, and it’s always a tricky one to answer. What I can say is that we’re well prepared, that we’ve got the new car finished in good time and that we’ve met the performance targets we set ourselves internally. That puts us in a confident frame of mind. But we’ll only really find out what it all amounts to at the first race of the season in Melbourne.“

This is the first time you’re approaching a new season in the role of Team Principal. Is that a special situation for you? “Yes and no. On the one hand, not that much has changed for me since I took on the role, because I was already involved in a lot of things beforehand – like the Team Principal meetings, which I’ve been attending for some time already. On the other hand, it is still something special because now all the responsibility rests on my shoulders. And that creates a certain extra pressure, of course.”

What are your aims for the forthcoming season? “We put some good foundations in place last year. And now we want to build on that base and continue to improve as a team.”

What does that mean exactly? Are you targeting fifth place in the Constructors’ World Championship? “We’re not saying we want to finish in this or that position in the standings, as ultimately other factors will also come into play that are outside our control. What we can be clear about, however, is that we want to continue on our upward curve.”

What do you expect from your drivers? “Esteban Gutiérrez’s relationship with the team goes back to 2010, and we have introduced him steadily to the world of Formula One. Now he is ready to take the final step. We expect him to learn quickly and turn his considerable talent into good results. Nico Hülkenberg has impressed us on many occasions, not only with his speed but, most importantly, by how efficiently he has driven. It is this level of efficiency that we hope to see this year again. And, of course, we expect him to contribute his technical experience. I’m in no doubt that we have a strong driver pairing in place. As for Robin Frijns, our test and reserve driver, this year is quite simply about learning as much as possible.”