Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn has parted company with the team following 17 years with the Swiss squad, according to reports that first surfaced this morning.
Kaltenborn, who relinquished her shares in the company when Longbow Finance purchased the team in 2016, leaves her position as team principal and chief executive officer.
Her influence on the team of late is unquestionable and her departure signifies that Sauber is a team whose philosophies could be set for an overhaul.
In truth, this story does not come as an enormous surprise. Longbow Finance’s acquisition of Sauber in the latter stages of last season may have saved the team from imminent financial collapse but did prompt a notable change in Sauber’s DNA.
Peter Sauber retired from duties with his team while Kaltenborn’s boardroom influence was no doubt scaled back as a result of Longbow taking ownership of her shares.
Evidently, they are not the CVC style owners who are uninterested in having a day-to-day involvement. Much like Liberty Media, Sauber’s new owners want to make their mark and carve the product in their own vision.
According to reports documented by Autosport, it would seem that Kaltenborn may have clashed with the investors she tried so hard to secure, on the subject of driver status within the team.
It is unsurprising that the new owners would have a heightened allegiance to Marcus Ericsson, given Longbow’s close ties to Tetrapak, who are in turn affiliated with the Swede’s personal backers.
Longbow has supposedly lobbied the race team to favour Ericsson over new recruit for 2017, Pascal Wehrlein. This is a policy that Kaltenborn was not content to uphold.
Combine this difference in agendas with Sauber’s uninspiring form and it becomes obvious as to why the two parties have parted company.
What Kaltenborn’s exit does mean is that Longbow’s influence on Sauber is increased. They will now oversee the appointment of a new team principal – be it interim or otherwise – and it is fair to assume that Kaltenborn’s replacement will be much more inclined to carry out the will of the owners.
The new commander will naturally share the vision of his or her bosses or else they simply will not get the gig in the first place.
If the aforementioned rumours are true, that is bad news for Pascal Wehrlein, who could soon find himself on half-baked strategies and running old specification parts, while Ericsson enjoys the fruits of number one driver status.
It would be unfortunate for the German, who has been excellent since returning from his pre-season neck injury. Moreover, it would surely be detrimental to Sauber’s overall aspirations given that Ericsson has seemed less likely to match Wehrlien’s previous points scoring efforts.
Obviously, this is all speculation for now. Who knows, Longbow might find themselves selling their new acquisition to Honda by the end of this season if the Japanese marque fancies a return as a fully fledged manufacturer outfit.
Stranger things have happened…