Beat Zehnder is a real Sauber veteran. The present sporting director of the Components 1 racing group from Hinwil has been there because the first season within the premier class in 1993 and has a whole lot of expertise in his nearly 30 years in Components 1.
He had probably the most profitable season within the BMW years of the group between 2006 and 2009. In 2007 BMW-Sauber grew to become the world champion, a 12 months later Robert Kubica took the one victory within the historical past of the racing group and fought for the world championship. very long time.
And within the ‘Past the Grid’ podcast, Zehnder reveals that BMW may have received the world championship title – if the Munich group had not ended its dedication all of the sudden after the 2009 season. “I believe that was the objective,” Zehnder stated.
“Particularly in 2008” issues went “in the suitable path”, he recollects and explains that because of the “monetary funding” of BMW at the moment, Sauber grew to become “one of many prime groups” in Components 1.
BMW pulls out with out warning
“Sadly, we made a type of logical error with KERS in 2009. I believe we’re the one group with an air-cooled system,” stated Zehnder, who defined that the power restoration system was “extreme” completely.
The outcome: Within the World Championship, they fell to sixth place and the financial disaster on the time, mixed with poor outcomes, ensured that BMW pulled the plug and introduced its exit from Components 1 on the finish of the summer season.
Based on Zehnder, there was no “warning” on the group on the time. “Under no circumstances [BMW-Motorsportdirektor] Mario Theissen was advised,” he recollects, including that BMW solely knowledgeable Theissen of the choice “the day earlier than”.
From a sporting standpoint, Zehnder nonetheless considers Components 1’s exit a foul choice. “I am positive if BMW had been on board, we’d have been world champions very quickly,” he explains.
Strict measures after buyback by Sauber
However as a substitute of combating for the world title within the years after 2009, the entire group nearly disappeared. “It was very tough,” Zehnder recollects. Ultimately, it was group founder Peter Sauber who purchased again the racing group.
“It wasn’t low cost,” factors out Zehnder, who remembers: “BMW invested lots in amenities. We nearly doubled the variety of workplaces throughout this era.” Consequently, after the buyback, Sauber needed to lower prices.
“It was probably the most tough time for Peter and me, as a result of we needed to do away with about 250 individuals. We needed to nearly scale back the dimensions of the corporate. That was tough,” admits Zehnder. As a result of behind each job there was a household.
With out the help of BMW, it could not have been attainable to proceed to guide the group at this degree – particularly since there have been nearly no sponsors within the 2010 season. “It was only a regular automotive from the skin [Werbe-]stickers,” he recollects.
Whereas BMW has not returned to Components 1 to at the present time, the group has survived. Initially as Sauber, since 2019 the racing group has been initially as Alfa Romeo. At all times: Beat Zehnder.