October 13th, 2013 (F1plus/J. Leslie).- Monisha Kaltenborn has said that giving up on Sauber's 2013 car and putting full focus on next year's car - with the introduction of new regulations - was never an option.
The Sauber team principal shared her views on the season so far in an in-depth interview with her team. She reflects on the 2013 car, the main issues of the C32 and the aims for the remainder of 2013.
The Sauber F1 Team currently sit seventh in the constructor's standings with 45 points, 14 ahead of Toro Rosso and 17 behind Force India.
The Swiss squad have their sights firmly set on Force India as their fortunes continue to improve. The team head to India, Kaltenborn's home race, off the back of their first double points finish of the season.
Asked what the early-season problem with the car was, she replied: "After the concept of the side exhaust system was very successful last year, our engineers decided to go with a different concept for the C32, that in theory had even more potential.
"In practice, however, it looked different. We realised that in Melbourne where we brought an update to the car that didn’t work as we expected it to. It then took some time for our engineers to understand the problem."
She added: "The aero balance of the car was not stable, especially during braking and turning in. Apart from the measurable implications, the side effect was that the drivers had less confidence in the C32. In addition, we didn’t have the resources to quickly modify the car. Instead, this process happened step by step.
"The largest update we brought was in Hungary, where we implemented a modified exhaust concept. We already saw a significant improvement back then, but, of course, it took some time until we were able to get the most out of that.
"In addition, our understanding of the car improved, which translated to a better set-up. Furthermore, we were able to maintain the high level of quality producing the parts back at the factory. The whole team, in the factory and at the track, did an outstanding job."
She also believes that the changes made to the Pirelli tyres have helped Sauber in 2013. But was there ever a chance of giving up on 2013 and putting full focus on 2014? "Giving up was never an option, because we wanted to make progress with the current car, in order to improve in the constructors’ championship. In addition the insight we are getting now will help with the development of the new car."
The team have their sights firmly set ahead and not at the challenge from behind: "In general we are always looking ahead. If we continue to be as focused without making any mistakes, then there is still a lot to gain. We know however, that it won’t be easy to claim sixth place. And, of course, we will check the rear mirror in order to avoid a nasty surprise."
Kaltenborn also commented on the team's current race drivers, saying that she has been pleased with their pace and performance: "Both drivers have shown a very good performance. Nico delivers what we expected from him. He is fast, consistent and very efficient. He has gained a lot of points through his fighting spirit, but he also knows how to seize and use chances if they present themselves to him during a race.
"Esteban had a tough start. In addition, the car was not as good at the beginning of the season as it is today, which didn’t help. Nevertheless he worked hard and improved continuously. It was only a question of time for everything to slot into place, as we could see last weekend.
"Looking at his times, he was often very close to Nico, but, because the competition in the middle field is so tight, sometimes it was a couple of positions away, which, at a first glance, doesn’t look good. However, he also did an outstanding job when, for example, giving feedback regarding the set-up of the car, which took the team forward."
However, the team could potentially be set for an all new line-up in 2014 with the arrival of Sergey Sirotkin and his Russian investors. It is unclear whether Gutierrez will remain at the team and Hulkenberg looks set to jump ship after just one season.