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.”