Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn insists the team was not on the brink of going under before its deal with a trio of Russian companies.
While the Swiss Formula 1 squad said the major partnership helped secure its long-term future, Kaltenborn denied the team had come close to folding. She said the fact the deal was being worked on, and the knowledge Sauber also had other options as a fallback, meant Sauber was never in the financial turmoil some had reported.
“Because of the extent and scope of this deal, we knew it would take a while, so we didn’t really get too depressed or disturbed by what was being written,” Kaltenborn said. “We focused on getting our deal done. We’ve been working with these partners for a while.
“It wouldn’t be right for us to think that, ‘If we don’t get this, we can’t survive.’ We’ve gone through tough times before and we know we can survive.”
Kaltenborn said the deal also reflected Sauber’s long-term focus, ensuring the team will be able to progress rather than simply helping to guarantee its presence on the grid.
“We had other options, clearly, but we felt that this was the best for the team,” she explained.”It’s just a question of do you want to just survive or sustainably stay here and sometime, sooner or later, make a step ahead again.
“That was our focus and we knew that if this deal came through in this way, we had that basis for the long term to really make our way up again. That’s what’s going to happen now.”
With the deal also resulting in 17-year-old Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin joining Sauber on a development program, and possibly graduating to a full-time drive in 2014, Kaltenborn said the team needs to hold discussions with its current reserve driver, 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 driver Robin Frijns.
“He’s in a difficult situation now, clearly,” she said of Frijns. “At this stage in his career, he really needs mileage and experience. We’re going to sit down with him very shortly and discuss the situation.”