Ferderic Vasseur, Sauber, Singapore, 2018

Signing Raikkonen is part of a “huge push” at Sauber

2018 Singapore Grand Prix

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Bringing Kimi Raikkonen to Sauber is part of a “huge push” to move up the grid, according to team principal Frederic Vasseur.

Raikkonen surprised many last week when he announced he will return to his first Formula 1 team following his departure from Ferrari. Vasseur said the 2007 world champion’s “huge experience” will be an asset to the team which has made a significant step forward this year following new investment.

“For the team, we are building up every single department and I think he will be very supportive in the process,” he said. “I think from aero to design office to track engineering, tyre management, I think everybody in the team is more than welcome to have Kimi on board in the future.

“It’s a step forward for us for sure. This is on the technical side and on the more marketing and commercial side, for sure it’s a huge push and if you have a look at what we had last week in terms of social media, so it was probably the first time in our lives that we have so many connections. On both sides, I think it will be supportive for us.”

Some of the team’s current staff were present during Raikkonen’s debut for them 17 years ago, said Vasseur. “I was not there but some guys came to my office saying ‘ah, superb that Kimi’s back.’

“But I don’t want to consider the fact that Kimi’s coming back that we have to think about the future, not about the past.”

The identity of Raikkonen’s team mate for the 2019 F1 season is yet to be confirmed. Current driver Marcus Ericsson is thought to be in the running, along with Antonio Giovinazzi and Stoffel Vandoorne.

“After Singapore we will sit down with all the persons involved in the discussions and we will take a decision quite soon,” said Vasseur. “I think it’s also good for the team to have a clear answer but it will be soon.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 21 comments on “Signing Raikkonen is part of a “huge push” at Sauber”

    1. Well what I just read was… “our budget just increased”.

      1. The advertising team trying to attract sponsors will be delighted for sure.
        All good stuff in my opinion.

        1. Oh their lives just got 1000% easier :-)

    2. I still doubt they’re going to be really any better next season performance-wise than this season, so lower-points positions at max pace-wise next season as well.

    3. What about Ericsson? Is he going to make place for someone else?

    4. Am I the only one who starts to think more and more that Monisha Kaltenborn did everything wrong? From Giedo van der Garde to Honda deal to everything else…

      1. without monisha there now would be no sauber. You can’t do anything if you don’t have money

        1. This, indeed @marcelh – I too have reservations about some things she did, but I wasn’t the one in her position either, and I do think she did better at keeping Sauber around then the lotus guys did with the Enstone team (looking at how long it is taking them to move up again).

      2. I had ‘finished’ thinking this before she even left… lol.

      3. @f1lauri, it depends on the context that you view it in, as I would say that the picture is far more mixed.

        At the time she stepped in, the team was in a pretty bad financial position – Peter Sauber was able to partially support the team over the short term from his personal fortunate and from his family business (his family runs a medium sized electrical engineering company), but Kaltenborn did not have that degree of personal wealth or a family business to fall back on.

        To compound that, when BMW pulled out of the sport, they did so in such a way as to completely void Sauber’s entry rights – they really screwed over Sauber, and Sauber could only re-enter because they were able to claim Toyota’s entry when they withdrew. That left the team struggling for quite some time to secure sponsorship, because that lack of entry rights meant that sponsors didn’t want to get involved – those factors left the team in a weakened situation financially for several years.

        The whole affair with van der Garde is a little strange, as there have been a few suggestions that we might not have seen the full picture. Joe Saward has painted a more sympathetic picture of Kaltenborn and suggested that van der Garde’s real motive in his legal action against Sauber was to take the team over, and that his lawsuit was an attempt to drive the team into administration to enable him to buy it for cheap.

        As for the idea of partnering with Honda, the idea doesn’t seem quite so ludicrous when you consider how Red Bull are now becoming Honda’s works partner, or the progress that Honda seem to have made at Toro Rosso. It may yet be that, in retrospect, Vasseur’s decision to reject Honda might not prove to be the correct decision in the long run.

        1. Hi anon – I don’t really understand what you’re trying too assert here…
          1. I thought MK was brought in to run the team not to finance/sponsor it… so her wealth is irrelevant.
          2. But Sauber DID re-enter, so why do you claim they were unable to secure sponsors – ‘for several years’…
          3. I take your point about vdG but I don’t regard JS to be as big an authority as he does himself…
          And that whole affair left a very bad taste in the mouth, because of MK’s attitude…
          4. I always thought the Sauber/Honda connection was primarily financial, although at the time I felt it could have been a good idea.

    5. Good grief… when I first glanced at the photo I thought Ron was back…! lol.
      My hopes are for GIO as No.2, if only because he’s such a more exciting prospect than the other two mentioned, who have not exactly lit up the tracks during their F1 careers – regardless of why…

    6. If this is really is ‘part of a huge push’ then Sauber have to move on from Ericsson and put Giovinazzi / Ocon into that seat. If Ericsson is retained then this is nothing more than words without action from Vasseur and Sauber will not be making progress in 2019 (Kimi will be slower than Leclerc),

      1. Kimi will be slower than Leclerc?

        You drunk mate?

    7. It’s impressive how Sauber is growing under Vasseur leadership. It’s a contrast to the mess Williams is right now. Claire seens to make bad decisions all the time and Lowe don’t seens to know what he’s doing also.

      1. For all the progress Renault has shown, I still think they would be better off with Vasseur than Abiteoul (or however you spell it).

        Vasseur is a team principal at heart when Abi-whatever is more of a corporate Yes-man. Vasseur’s experience in lower classes helps him and has worked with some of the great drivers in the business.
        It’s no miracle he got picked up by Sauber and is transforming the team into a solid midfielder.

    8. Kimi knows what he is do in but at what price. Is the payback goin to be that good when young guns may be faster. I could be wrong but I could be right. We can only wait and see. But he will be faster then Eric for sure. They need get rid of Eric

      1. “Kimi knows what he is doing…” – Agreed… “…but at what price.” It’s not as if he had many options. I’m much happier to see him at Sauber than on his bike.

    9. From what I heard on Channel 4 today, when Channel 4 asked about the drivers available for Sauber and mentioned them as a replacement for Ericsson, Vasseur seemed to pretty quickly defend Ericsson. He said that he’s actually doing a decent job. I think he is too. Just Leclerc is making him look worse. In the racse, he isn’t always far off and several times has been better. This is not the first time either that Vasseur defended or gave Ericsson some good credit. One article at the beginning of this season mentioned about Vasseur understanding Ericsson’s weight balance problems with his car last year and how it is sorted out now. And then another article where he was clearly praising Ericsson for his form at the start of the season.

      Despite what others think, I think the line up of Kimi and Ericsson will be good for Sauber’s needs. A driver who may not be very good, but will be in his 5th year in a row with the team. Despite his overall performance, being with the team this long will very likely benefit them a bit in some way if they keep him for some feedback to help with development. Also, his money will be helping the team a lot.

      Then on top of that, the amount of money Kimi will end up bringing will probably be a fair chunk. And he is extremely experienced and has looked really good at times this year. This will not be a perfect line up in terms of ability to perform, but to help develop the car and make good progress for the future, I think it will be excellent. Teams don’t just keep drivers for their money. If any driver that a team had just wasn’t good enough, they will have been kicked out. There will be something other than the money that had kept Ericsson in the team all these years despite looking worse than his team mate in almost all of them.

      If Ericsson goes, they will loose a huge amount of funding as well as an experienced driver (even if he isn’t that quick). Although it is unfortunate that the new drivers may not get a chance, I think Sauber having a year with this line up and a lot of money could help them hugely for the following year. If they clearly make a lot of progress over next season, then they should maybe make way for some new drivers. But at the moment, I think Sauber will be best with Kimi and Ericsosn out of the options they seem to be looking at. Vandoorne really hasn’t looked better than Ericsson this year and going to a new team, i doubt he would be any better to start with. Giovinassi possibly could tune out to be very good, but I don’t think it is worth risking 2 new drivers to the team at this stage.

      From what I’ve heard Vasseur say, I think it looks like he’s actually looking like he’s wanting Ericsson more than the others. But the funding may be a heavy part of that. But like I say, although it makes it seem unfair, money sometimes makes a certain driver better for the team over talent unfortunately. But I don’t think any of the drivers they are considering will instantly be any better, and obviously won’t have Ericsson’s experience.

    10. “Teams don’t just keep drivers for their money. If any driver that a team had just wasn’t good enough, they will have been kicked out.”

      I’m not sure what to think of this statement, I hope its true but I feel a thousand punters will chime in with “what about Stroll”

    11. Is this Ferrari sending a veteran to its farm team?

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