YEONGAM, South Korea, Oct 11, 2012 (AFP) - Monisha Kaltenborn became thefirst woman team principal in Formula One on Thursday when she took control of Sauber with immediate effect after its founder decided to step down from
Peter Sauber had always made it clear that he did not wish to be running the team, which he built more than four decades ago, when he turned 70. He will be 69 on Saturday.
Sauber will continue in his capacity as president of the board of directors of all Sauber Group companies and remain responsible for the group's strategic direction, a team statement said.
"We decided a long time ago that Monisha would take over from me, but we left the timing open," Sauber, one of the biggest names in Formula One, said in the statement.
"Now is a good time for both of us, so this is the right moment to pass on the baton. After all, there have been a number of races I've been unable to attend - most recently the Japanese Grand Prix, where the team put in an excellent performance.
"I'm in no doubt that Monisha has all the necessary skills to be an outstanding team principal, and I'm equally certain she will ensure that the values underpinning the company live on. That is very important to me."
Kaltenborn, 41, an Austrian of Indian origin, joined the company in 2000 to run the legal department, was appointed a member of the board of management not long afterwards and took over asCEOof Sauber Motorsport AG in January 2010.
In late 2011 Peter Sauber transferred a third of the company's shares into her name.
"Naturally I'm very aware of the major responsibility I have for Peter Sauber's racing team," said Kaltenborn in the statement.
"He founded the team over 40 years ago, and in the spring it will be 20 years since Sauber lined up for its debut Formula One grand prix. We are the fourth-oldest team in Formula One.
"To build up a project like this and keep it alive in a difficult environment is a tremendous achievement. I have set my sights high and am committed to taking the team forward as Peter Sauber would want and leading it on to success."
Sauber are sixth in the constructors' championship with five races to go, starting with the Korean Grand Prix on Sunday.
Sergio Perez, the Sauber driver who is set for a move to McLaren next season, said: "Monisha is very capable of treating people the right way so I wish her the very best.
"I will always be very thankful to Peter. He gave me the opportunity to
show my talent. I'm very thankful."