Monisha Kaltenborn leaves Sauber as Swiss team's struggles continue
Kaltenborn was Sauber CEO and the first female team principal in F1; Team hit out at rumours both drivers aren't being treated equally.
By Matt Morlidge & William Esler
Last Updated: 22/06/17 7:48am
Sauber and team principal Monisha Kaltenborn have parted company with immediate effect, the team have confirmed.
Kaltenborn has been the Swiss outfit's CEO since 2010 when Peter Sauber rebuilt the stable he had sold to BMW five years earlier, and she was even a part owner of the team after buying shares in 2011.
Hearing that Monisha Kaltenborne and Sauber have parted company. Real shame for the team if that's true given how she saved them last season— David Croft (@CroftyF1) June 21, 2017
In 2012, Kaltenborn became Formula 1's first female team principal but she has now left her Sauber post with immediate effect, meaning the team currently ninth in the constructors' standings have no boss heading into the Azerbaijan GP, live on Sky Sports.
A statement from Sauber's Chairman Pascal Picci was issued late on Wednesday night, after the news emerged from Sky Sources earlier that day.
"Longbow Finance SA regrets to announce that, by mutual consent and due to diverging views of the future of the company, Monisha Kaltenborn will leave her positions with the Sauber Group effective immediately," read Picci's statement.
"We thank her for many years of strong leadership, great passion for the Sauber F1 Team and wish her the very best for the future. Her successor will be announced shortly; in the meantime we wish the team the best of luck in Azerbaijan."
Peter Sauber sold his controlling stake of the team to Longbow Finance last year and Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater reported that the Swiss based investment firm wanted to bring in their own individual to run the team on a day to day basis.
I've never really understood Sauber's objectives in F1. BMW deal finally made sense for a while. Now it needs greater ambition + leadership— Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) June 21, 2017
"There is significant speculation that what caused her to leave the team is that she wanted equal treatment between the two drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson," Slater reported from Baku.
"Whereby the team's owners wanted to give preferential treatment to Ericsson, the Swede, who is closely linked to the group that bought the team."
However, in a separate statement, the team hit out at those rumours stating they were "highly detrimental" to both drivers.
"The owners and board of Sauber Motorsport AG take strong exception to speculative and widespread media reports today that our race drivers have not been, and are not being, treated equally," said Picci.
"This is not only patently untrue, it would be contrary to the team's absolute and longstanding commitment to fair competition.
"These reports, attributed to anonymous 'sources', are highly detrimental to both Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein as well as to the management and all staff of the Sauber F1 Team."
Sky Sports understand that the early frontrunner to replace Kaltenborn at Sauber, at least in the short-term, is former Midland, Hispania and Caterham F1 boss Colin Kolles.
During Kaltenborn's time in charge, and since becoming an independent team again seven years ago, Sauber have struggled to deliver consistently as a midfield outfit, with their only two podiums coming in 2012.
Kaltenborn oversaw one of F1's strangest scandals in 2015 when Sauber technically went into the season-opening Australian GP with three main drivers as Giedo van der Garde claimed he was signed up for the upcoming campaign.
Sauber stuck to their new partnership of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr in Melbourne and for the rest of the year, and had to pay Van der Garde a significant compensation fee for him to relinquish his contract.
Eighth and tenth-placed finishes in the Constructors' Championship have followed that dispute, with Sauber's only victory coming in 2008 thanks to Robert Kubica's Canadian GP triumph.
Sauber have endured years of financial troubles and, amid speculation that they could fold, Kaltenborn oversaw the sale of the team to Longbow Finance last year. Though she kept her post as CEO and team principal at the time, owner Peter Sauber stepped down.
After the Manor F1 team left the sport at the end of 2016, Sauber were expected to be the backrunners this season - though Pascal Wehrlein's crucial four points in Spain means McLaren are currently at the bottom of the standings.
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