Peter Sauber: “Kimi is very serious about it, he wants to make a difference.”

Peter Sauber gave ‘Auto Motor und Sport’ a long interview, talking about his beginnings in motorsport and his years in Formula 1.

video in German: Auto Motor und Sport

excerpts of him talking about Kimi Räikkönen:

“Even today I still don’t know why I did it, why I gave him a test at all. His manager back then, Robertson, came to us, I later called him a carpet dealer because he sold Kimi so well to me that I said, “Ok, I’ll give Kimi a car for a day to test”. And then Robertson said, “3 days!” Impossible, on 3 days you can test 6 drivers! But somehow he could persuade me and then Kimi drove 3 days.

On the 2nd day I drove to Mugello with Willi Rampf, our technical director at that time, and we watched Kimi. Kimi fascinated me. Not necessarily the driving. Of course, he only drove a few formula races, had no experience, but everything went well. He didn’t talk much, he didn’t know much English. But he had a body language that fascinated me. And I think it was Kimi’s body language that convinced me. Not the fast lap times, he was simply fast, but he wasn’t so excessive. Just fast right away and if you gave him fresh tyres then he got as much faster as he needed to get. And when you took the fuel out, he got as much faster as he needed. It all went very professionally.

In the beginning he always came in after about 6 or 7 laps although he would have had to drive longer. He couldn’t hold his head any longer, he had no experience with g-forces. And when they told him you had to stay out longer, he still came back in after his laps. Stubborn. And if you have seen him in the pit lane, if he has walked towards you, then you have had the feeling, if you do not go to the side now, he runs through you. That was just… – I have to convey my impressions like this – Kimi was just fascinating. Willi and I agreed. He gets a contract.

Q: But then he was gone after one year. That was also a somewhat hairy story…

“That was the same stubbornness. But in the end it was a thing that was absolutely okay for us. We always needed money and finally there was a good deal with McLaren-Mercedes.

Q: What do you expect for this season? Now with your old driver Kimi Räikkönen..

“I’m glad, of course. It’s almost like a childlike joy for me that he comes back. And he also comes back and wants to make a difference. He is very serious about it. By the way, that’s of course Beat Zehnder, who made sure that the contact to Kimi always existed over the years.”

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Kimi Räikkönen “Also Vasseur is just a racer!”

source: Blick

Do you think that Alfa-Sauber can be one of the surprises of the 2019 season?

The feeling is pretty good. We tested almost everything, always got new parts – now we just have to evaluate things properly. You don’t have much time for that on the race weekends.

Your former Ferrari team-mate Vettel puts your new team at the top of the field. What do you say?

I don’t know where we stand exactly. It’s impossible to say. We only know our strengths, judging the competition is just a guessing game. I can only hope that we are fully there in the midfield. In a few weeks’ time we will certainly know more …

You’re the team leader now. Does that change anything for you?

No. We are two drivers and a lot of people preparing the car. They are all just as important. There is not only one key role.

And your new team mate Antonio Giovinazzi …

I’m sure we’ll get along fine. We are already exchanging ideas and have the same goal.

The new life with Alfa-Sauber has hardly surprised you?

No, I know Hinwil and the factory. I also didn’t have any big ideas about what it would be like in the next two years. All I know is that politics is certainly no longer in the focus. And that’s why I signed without hesitation. I’ll also be in the factory straightaway. And when I first met with Frédéric Vasseur, I immediately noticed: that is also just a racer full of passion.

So no more bullshit, no more negative stories and no more unnecessary stress…

That’s it. I only care about racing. I feel comfortable in the cockpit. That’s how it should be and will remain.

So only a happy Kimi is a fast Kimi…

I am happy when I can be with my family when I am away from the race tracks. Family is the most important point in life. There is nothing more valuable than children.

What is the difference between Kimi 2001 and Kimi 2019?

(laughs) I got older. But I have hardly changed much, even though I have seen and experienced a lot in the meantime. Inside I have remained the same.

And then there is also your year-long favorite club, the EV Zug…

Yes, it’s already set for the playoff since weeks. Unfortunately, the crucial phase begins when we are in Melbourne. But I’m certainly going to watch a game still. Or even more …