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

( – Beat Zehnder is a real Sauber veteran. The present sporting director of the Formula 1 racing workforce from Hineville has been there since the first season in the first-class in 1993 and has gained loads 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 yr later Robert Kubica gained the solely victory in the historical past of the racing workforce and fought for the world championship. for a very long time.

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

“Especially in 2008” issues had been “getting in the proper course”, he recollects, explaining that because of BMW’s “monetary funding” at the time, Sauber grew to become “certainly one 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 feel we had been the solely workforce with air cooling,” mentioned Zechder, who explains that the vitality restoration system “overheated” completely.

The end result: 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 time that it would withdraw from Formula 1 at the finish of the yr.

Photo gallery: Sauber Motorsport historical past

According to Zehnder, there was no “warning” to the workforce 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 choice.

From a purely sporting viewpoint, Zechder nonetheless believes that leaving Formula 1 was the unsuitable choice. “If BMW had stayed on board, I’m positive we would have been world champions ultimately,” 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 complete workforce virtually disappeared. “It was very tight,” Zehnder recollects. It was workforce founder Peter Sauber who ultimately purchased the racing workforce.

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

Pedro de la Rosa, Kamui Kobayashi

In the 2010 season, Sauber had virtually no sponsors scaling

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

However, with out the assist of BMW, it would not have been potential to proceed working the workforce 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 at the present time, the workforce survived. First as Sauber, from 2019 the racing workforce began as Alfa Romeo. Always Have: Hit the Zehnder.

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