Peter Sauber has been talking about his return to Formula 1 after buying his old team back from BMW over the winter, in a week which sees a change of management in the technical department at Hinwil.
Willy Rampf, the 56 year-old outgoing technical director, who has been with the team for the last ten years, will hand over to James Key, who is 38.
Sauber explained why they recruited Key from a rival. “I was impressed by what Force India had achieved in recent times on a tight budget, and James Key played a major role in getting them to where they are today. For me it was also important to appoint a Technical Director with a track record of getting the most out of limited resources. He will benefit from the first-class infrastructure at Hinwil and I'm in no doubt that he can take the team forward.”
The team boss outlined the main tasks for his new technical director, and it seems that, in the long term, Key will have the freedom to make some big changes. “His first Grand Prix for the team will be Shanghai, where he will also have technical responsibility at the circuit. In the short term he will focus on exploiting the full potential of the C29, something we haven't been able to do in the first three races of the season.
“Looking further ahead, he will set about putting in place what he considers to be the right structure for the technical department. I'm certainly expecting there to be changes. However, these will not happen overnight. It's a process that will take place over a period of time.”
Peter Sauber explained why changed are needed to the team’s technical department, and seemed to suggest that BMW’s indecision at the end of last season was contributing to the poor start to 2010. “In terms of performance we are not where we expected to be or where we should be given the means we've had at our disposal in the development of the C29. I'm looking for explanations myself.
“What is clear is that there was a lot of uncertainty around the whole team in the second half of 2009 – not surprisingly, given the circumstances. Nobody within the team knew whether we would be on the grid in Bahrain. This uncertainty was only removed when I took over the team and the guys could see a future once again. Now we have the task of making up for lost time as quickly as possible.”
The Sauber team principal also summarised the challenges ahead as they try and emerge from the legacies of BMW ownership. “We're experiencing a new beginning as a team and are in the process of adapting from a works outfit to an independent team. We've cut our budget by 40 per cent and reduced the workforce by a third. That's a massive cutback. However, this economisation process is something all the other established teams still have ahead of them as a result of the restrictions imposed by FOTA.”
“What we have to do now is move away from the previous modus operandi and put new methods in place that will maximise efficiency. This applies not only to technical development, but also to the way we operate as a team – for example, how the engineers work with our two new drivers. That's something that needs time to bed in. James Key will have a wide variety of tasks. As an organisation, everything is in place to get us back to our former strength.”