Sauber fires Kaltenborn over “diverging views”

Formula One Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn has been let go from the team after reports of differences between her and the rest of management.

Well, can we colour ourselves surprised at this point? Sauber’s team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn, has been ousted. The abrupt announcement came with seemingly little preamble, but the reasons for her departure are sure to have been a long-time bubbling. Although Kaltenborn’s commitments to Sauber have surely been made in earnest over the past several years, the team has officially announced that they have parted ways with her.

Although no concrete details have emerged as of yet, the news of the firing does come awfully close to Kaltenborn’s announcement that Sauber will be looking to field a Honda engine during the 2018 season – a move that was met with shock and confusion by much of the Formula One community given how dreadfully Honda’s power units have been performing.

The chairman of the board at Sauber, Pascal Picci, has issued a statement regarding Kaltenborn’s release, thanking her for her service before immediately announcing that her replacement will be ready to announce as soon as the Azerbaijan Grand Prix:

“Longbow Finance SA regrets to announce that, by mutual consent and due to diverging views of the future of the company, Monisha Kaltenborn will leave her positions with the Sauber Group effective immediately.

We thank her for many years of strong leadership, great passion for the Sauber F1 Team and wish her the very best for the future.

“Her successor will be announced shortly; in the meantime, we wish the team the best of luck in Azerbaijan.”

– Pascal Picci

While her decision to opt for a Honda engine may have indeed been the reason for her termination, the rumour mill has been revved up to full speed following a statement from Sauber that came only moments before Picci’s official notice of termination. The statement drew attention to the speculation that Kaltenborn had been favoring Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson over Pascal Wehrlein – before seeking to snuff it out quickly:

“The owners and board of Sauber Motorsport AG take strong exception to speculative and widespread media reports today that our race drivers have not been, and are not being, treated equally.
This is not only patently untrue, it would be contrary to the team’s absolute and longstanding commitment to fair competition.”

These reports, attributed to anonymous ‘sources’, are highly detrimental to both Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein as well as to the management and all staff of the Sauber F1 Team.”

There will be certainly more to this story as it develops over the coming days, but it is good to see the Sauber management taking an active effort in replacing problematic parts in their machine. Hopefully now the ultramarine-and-gold team can push itself up the midfield, instead of floundering as a backmarker.