Beat Zehnder (54) has been working for Sauber as a Formula 1 team manager for 26 years. But the Zurich native has never experienced a year like this with an existence-threatening crisis and an immense amount of work for ghost races:
Now all that remains is for the Sauber cars to perform …
Beat Zehnder: “We realized early this year that our overall package did not meet our expectations. We now have to work better than the competition. Our performance so far, especially in Budapest, is unacceptable.”
Kimi Räikkönen started from last place in Hungary for the first time in his career. Will Formula One put him off like this?
“Kimi is a racer. He works just as hard as always. Of course, he has no pleasure in starting last. But nobody on the team does. We all want to improve as quickly as possible.”
Is it the weak Ferrari engine?
” It’s the whole package. What we don’t quite understand yet is the difference between qualifying and the race. We can’t get the car ready for one lap, but in the fastest race laps in Hungary Giovinazzi is eleventh and Kimi twelfth. We are capable of setting good midfield times even on old tyres. It was similar in Spielberg. We are intensively analysing why this is the case. ”
Because 2021 will also be driven with the 2020 cars, the next season threatens to go downhill as well, with the C39.
” We have to stay positive. Of course we’re aware that there may be two difficult years now. But some development is possible. You have a certain number of tokens (a kind of voucher, i.e. editor) available for the different technical areas. You use them when you want to change something. The wind tunnel hours have also been greatly reduced. But I’m very happy that all teams have agreed to postpone the introduction of the new car generation until 2022. ”
” Because there is no other area of a team where more savings are possible. Fortunately, even the big racing teams have realized how badly the Corona crisis is hitting us all financially. We are losing a lot of revenue. The GP promoters don’t earn anything without spectators, so we get less too. In addition, television and sponsors also want to talk about reductions because the season only started in July. ”
Is the crisis threatening Sauber’s existence?
” The owner (the investment company Longbow Finance, the editor) signalled very early on that he wants to manage the crisis together with us. This was important and gave the staff a lot of assurance that their jobs were not threatened. ”