BMW-Sauber would be the “undisputed world champion”.

( – Beat Zehnder is a real Sauber veteran. The present sporting director of the Formula 1 racing staff from Hineville has been there since the first season in the first-class in 1993 and has gained a whole lot of expertise throughout his virtually 30 years in Formula 1.

Zehnder (proper) was overwhelmed by BMW-Sauber with Robert Kubica on time


It skilled the most profitable interval in BMW years from 2006 to 2009. In 2007, BMW-Sauber was the vice-champion, and a 12 months later Robert Kubica gained the solely victory in the historical past of the racing staff and fought for the world championship. for a very long time.

Zehnder advised the Beyond the Grid podcast that BMW would have gained the world title – had the Munich staff not abruptly ended its dedication after the 2009 season. “I believe it was a transparent objective,” Zechder mentioned.

“Especially in 2008” issues had been “getting in the proper route”, he recollects, explaining that because of BMW’s “monetary funding” at the time, Sauber grew to become “one in every of the high groups” in Formula 1.

The BMW pulled out with out warning

“Unfortunately, we made a conceptual mistake with KERS in 2009. I believe we had been the solely staff with air cooling,” mentioned Zechder, who explains that the vitality restoration system “overheated” completely.

The consequence: They fell to sixth place in the world championship and the financial disaster at the time, mixed with poor outcomes, ensured that BMW pulled the plug and introduced in the summer season that it would withdraw from Formula 1 at the finish of the 12 months.

Photo gallery: Sauber Motorsport historical past

According to Zehnder, there was no “warning” to the staff at the time. “Not as soon as [BMW-Motorsportdirektor] Mario Theissen was knowledgeable,” he recollects, including that BMW solely knowledgeable Theissen “the day earlier than” of the determination.

From a purely sporting standpoint, Zechder nonetheless believes that leaving Formula 1 was the incorrect determination. “If BMW had stayed on board, I’m positive we would have been world champions in the end,” he explains.

Savings after shopping for a Sauber

But in the years after 2009, as a substitute of combating for the title of world champion, the entire staff virtually disappeared. “It was very tight,” Zehnder recollects. It was staff founder Peter Sauber who ultimately purchased the racing staff.

“It wasn’t low cost,” Zehnder recollects: “BMW spent some huge cash on services. During this time, we virtually doubled the variety of jobs.” As a consequence, after the acquisition, Sauber first needed to reduce prices.

Pedro de la Rosa, Kamui Kobayashi

In the 2010 season, Sauber had virtually no sponsors scaling

“It was one in every of the most troublesome occasions for each Peter and me, as a result of we needed to lay off about 250 folks. We needed to scale back the dimension of the firm virtually in half. It was troublesome,” admits Zehder. Because behind each worker there was a household.

However, with out the help of BMW, it would not have been doable to proceed working the staff at this stage – particularly since there have been virtually no sponsors for the 2010 season. “It was only a regular automobile with out it [Werbe-]labels,” he recollects.

Although BMW has not returned to Formula 1 to this present day, the staff survived. First as Sauber, from 2019 the racing staff began as Alfa Romeo. Always Have: Hit the Zehnder.

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