Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Team Principal Frederic Vasseur feels that the positive changes within the Swiss squad were helpful to the point that Kimi Raikkonen was motivated enough to return.
Halfway through the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Sauber cancelled their engine deal with Honda for the following season and instead would stick with Ferrari, which allowed Vasseur‘s team to run its latest-specification engine from 2018, unlike in the previous season when they were using a year-old power unit.
Since then, Alfa Romeo had joined forces with the outfit, along with the signing of 2017 FIA Formula 2 Championship winner Charles Leclerc, and had appointed Simone Resta from Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow as Technical Director and Audi aerodynamicist Jan Monchaux.
By the end of the 2018 season, Sauber had achieved a Constructors’ finish of eighth, their highest in five years. Leclerc’s performances throughout the campaign were good enough for Ferrari to inherit him from 2019, opening the door for Raikkonen to head the other way to re-join the team where he made his F1 debut with in 2001.
According to Motorsport.com, Vasseur says that mood within Sauber is “huge”, considering the changes in the last couple of years.
“We had Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, we had Charles joining the team,” Vasseur added.
“We took Jan Monchaux, Simone Resta, brought them into the factory.
“Each week we had good news, it’s like a spiral. The motivation is there, the mood is huge compared to last year, the team spirit.”
Vasseur went on to explain the “appetite” for the Swiss team after the Alfa Romeo partnership was announced.
“For me, drivers are the same,” Vasseur mentioned.
“Good engineers you can motivate with the salary but they love racing and they want to get results.
“We’re in a much better position to recruit, to have top guys in every single department. I have the feeling that we’re really attractive as a project.
“Drivers are the same story. Kimi knows it will be difficult for us to better than P7 without an accident [for bigger teams].
“The motivation can come from somewhere else. The fact we’re improving, we’re growing up, we’re building something – I think it’s a huge feeling for all the team members, including drivers.”