Jul.24 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Sauber chief Monisha Kaltenborn has admitted that counting her drivers out of the ‘silly season’ was a deliberate step in the name of stability.
Ahead of the Hungarian grand prix, the Swiss team caught the F1 world by early surprise when it announced that both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson are staying put.
Sauber began the season amid the intense spotlight of the Giedo van der Garde affair, and in the past days and weeks there have been rumours linking Nasr with a move to Williams and Swede Ericsson potentially to Indycar.
Asked if the earlier-than-expected Budapest announcement was always planned or whether Sauber had reacted to the rumours, boss Kaltenborn said: “It was not planned for a long time, but a few years ago it (early announcements) was still the norm.
“I think it was 2012 or 2013 when we already announced our drivers here,” she added at the Hungaroring.
Asked why Sauber has elected to go early again, Kaltenborn answered: “It brings a certain stability and calms everything down a bit.
“Our drivers were being faced with questions they cannot answer or don’t know how to answer. In order to clarify everything and remain transparent, we made the announcement here.”
Some were surprised by the Sauber news because Williams was reportedly keen to sign Brazilian Nasr. The two sides know each other well and it might have delivered the British team millions in Nasr’s Banco do Brasil backing.
And in the past weeks, some of Nasr’s comments have sounded critical of Sauber’s lack of development progress in 2015.
But now all signed up for 2016, Nasr said: “Having the same drivers helps the team and the arrival of the new technical director is also positive.
“So I think we can be more competitive next season,” he is quoted by Brazil’s UOL. “I believe that the situation of the team is much better than a few months ago.
“By having this confirmation so early, we can already focus on next year and I think there is much more to come from us.”
As for the earlier-rumoured move to Williams, a much more competitive team, Nasr told Globo: “I did not participate much in the negotiations.
“From the beginning, the plan was to stay for two years at Sauber, to have two years of learning here. Perhaps it would have been too early to go to another team and try something greater.
“I have always said I was committed to Sauber, the car has a good foundation, there are good people working in the team, I have a lot to learn myself and so having this assurance gives me more confidence and more motivation for the team.
“We have a very good plan for 2016 and we know what we need to do to improve,” Nasr added.