As there seems to be pretty good reaction to Peter Sauber’s defense of Formula 1 and chiding of certain people in the paddock, I’m passing on a full Q&A from which his comments came. Sorry I hadn’t seen it earlier. Enjoy.
Q: When did you realise on Sunday that a podium place was within grasp?
Peter Sauber: Not until late on in the race. Sergio had started from 15th on the grid, so you wouldn’t normally be contemplating a podium place – you’d be happy just to get into the points. But once the front-runners began to develop problems with their tyres towards the end of the race, it became clear that something very special could be unfolding. Unlike the other drivers, Sergio was not affected by these tyre problems and was able to continue his all-out offensive right to the end. He drove an extraordinary race.
Q: Did the result come as a surprise?
PS: Yes and no. Of course it was a surprise that Sergio managed to advance from 15th on the grid to a third-placed finish in a perfectly normal race, without rain and without any safety-car periods. But basically we knew the Sauber C31 was far better than the results of the last few GPs might have suggested. Our performance in Barcelona and Monaco fell well short of our capability. We had the potential in both races to be right up in front, but things just didn’t fall into place.
Q: What are your expectations for the upcoming races?
PS: If we manage to exploit our full potential as a team, in other words get everything right from Friday morning to Sunday evening, a great deal is possible. After seven races it is patently clear that the C31 can be fast on virtually any kind of track.
Q: Do you think a win would be on the cards?
PS: Before the season I don’t suppose anyone would have put that question to me. But now, after seven races with seven different winners, so much seems possible. In Malaysia we came very close to winning. Further podium places certainly seem a realistic prospect. The prerequisite of course is that our drivers go into the race from good grid positions.
Q: Not everyone is happy about seven races with seven different winners – it throws them. What’s your take?
PS: As far as I can see it’s just a handful of people in the paddock who can’t get used to not knowing by Friday who’s going to win on Sunday. I think the fans see it in a completely different light. They’re delighted with the unpredictability, the sheer variety and the unbelievably close competition. I’ve been in Formula One for 20 years now and for me it’s never been better or more exciting. That’s partly down to Pirelli, who are supplying the tyres for this show.
Q: Can Sauber keep up with the major players when it comes to further development of the car?
PS: Of course the four big teams have very different financial possibilities compared to the private teams in the middle of the pack. But that doesn’t in any way discourage us. Our forte is efficiency. The development package that was given its first airing in Barcelona showed what we are capable of. The crucial thing is that the C31 gives us an excellent foundation with real potential for further development.
Q: What are your targets for the rest of the season?
PS: At the start of the season we said that we wanted to pick up points regularly and improve our position in the constructors’ rankings. That essentially remains in place, but naturally I’m now keen to see a few more podium places. The fact is that after seven out of 20 races we have a tally of 58 points. That’s already 14 more than we had at the end of last season. So far things are panning out quite well.