Frédéric Vasseur, the former Renault team principal, has been announced as the new figurehead at the Sauber F1 Team, in addition to taking on the role of the Swiss outfit’s Managing Director and CEO. He will take up his post on July 17, the day after the British Grand Prix.
The Frenchman replaces former team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, who suddenly left her role in the lead up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after falling out with Sauber chairman Pascal Picci.
Vasseur, who himself split with the Renault team during the off-season for reasons not dissimilar to Kaltenborn’s, was immediately touted as her most likely replacement.
“I’m very proud to be joining Sauber Motorsport AG, and wish to thank the company’s shareholders for their trust in me,” Vasseur said in a statement released by the team today.
“I’ve been impressed by the facilities in Hinwil and by the talent and ambition of the workforce, and I very much look forward to complementing the team with my experience and determination and drive all people in the right direction in everything they do: I am convinced that all together we will achieve ambitious targets.
“I cannot wait to start working with our drivers, engineers and all the staff. I look forward to contributing to the next important phase in the development of the team.”
Vasseur has a successful pedigree across a number of junior formulae championships. In 1996 he founded the ASM team, which in partnership with Renault, won the 1998 French Formula 3 Championship before going on to dominate the Formula 3 Euroseries scene in the mid-2000s. From 2004 to 2007 inclusive, his team’s drivers swept to successive championships with Jamie Green, Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean as title-winners.
In 2004 he joined forces with Nicolas Todt to form the ART Grand Prix team, which won the 2005 and 2006 GP2 Series championships with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton respectively. He also spearheads the team’s activities since the series’ migration to the FIA Formula 2 Championship, in addition to its feeder GP3 Series.
In addition to this Vasseur also oversees Spark Racing Technology, the company that constructs the chassis’ used in the FIA Formula E Championship.
While Vasseur will need to lean on his deputies to run these functions while he eases into his new role, he has also gone on the record with his belief that a team principal’s success hinges on there being a single vision for the organisation. The team’s owners from Longbow Finance were unable to convince Kaltenborn of the merits of that vision.
The announcement comes in the midst of widespread speculation, from multiple sources, that Sauber’s recently announced engine partnership with Honda that was set to start in 2018 has now been abandoned.
There are rumours that the contract paperwork was never actually completed, while there are also claims that Sauber’s owners did not want to take on a power unit that has proven to be both unreliable and uncompetitive – irrespective of the potential financial savings this engine deal may afford the team.
The team, running year-old undeveloped Ferrari engines this year, sits ninth in the Constructors’ Championship standings ahead of only McLaren.
Image via Motorsport.com
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