Willy Rampf is to retire from Sauber

It appears that the "new start" the outgoing Force India Technical Director James Key was referring to is the re-formed Sauber team, with the Swiss constructor announcing that Key will move into the same role with them from the beginning of April.

Key will be replacing long-time Sauber stalwart Willy Rampf (pictured), who has announced he will retire after his handover to Key.

Team boss Peter Sauber was particularly delighted about announcing his star signing, with the Key-designed VJM02 helping Force India to its first-ever pole position and podium last season.

“Despite his young age, James looks back on more than a decade of experience in F1 – and the 2009 car in particular proved quite a revelation," Sauber said, "James comes from a private team and knows how to work around a limited budget but, with us, will enjoy high-level technical opportunities. Willy and James will be devoting April to the handover."

However, he reflected on Rampf’s departure with great sadness and acknowledged that the team will miss the Technical Director who has worked almost exclusively for the Sauber team,

"I have known about Willy’s plans for some time, of course, and fully understand his decision. He has achieved great things for our team since I managed to get him on board as race engineer for the 1994 season. In 1998, he temporarily left the team to pursue his Paris-Dakar Rally dream and ran BMW’s motorcycle involvement – a successful interlude, as we know – but, in 1999, he returned to the fold with the clear aim of becoming technical director. It was practically his first F1 car that was out on the grid in 2001, and we finished fourth in the constructors’ championship as a privately-run team. We have Willy to thank for a great deal.”

“When you’re technical director of an F1 team, the job comes first and everything else is subordinate to it," Rampf explained, "Peter Sauber gave me the chance to enter this league of motorsport and I greatly value all my years spent working with the team. I have done my job with a passion for ten years, but now it’s time to hand over the baton.”

Here’s hoping their new signing proves the key (ahem!) to the team’s future success!

[Image via Formula1.com]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.