Formula gOne? Thirteen, years of independent Swiss involvement in Formula One motor racing came to an end in October when the small, privatley-run Sauber team completed their final race at the season-ending Grand Prix in Shanghai.

AuteurLedsom, Mark
Fonction PROFILE - Interview

Four months earlier, team owner Peter Sauber had announced the sale of his Hinwil-based outfit to German car manufacturer BMW, which will continue to use the Sauber factory for the design and construction of its new cars. Three days after the Swiss team's last race, Swiss News caught up with Peter Sauber for one final pit stop.

Swiss News: Has the fact that it is all over had time to sink in yet?

Peter Sauber: I think I will only really believe it in January because my schedule is still so hectic at the moment. It's probably only when the questions stop that I will actually know how I feel!

What were your biggest highs and lows during 13 years of Formula One?

Our fourth place finish in 2001 (behind Ferrari, McLaren and Williams) was definitely one of the highlights because it was such a notable achievement to have a small, independent Swiss team finishing so high. The six podium places we managed throughout our time in Formula One were also very special.

The accident involving Karl Wendlinger (Sauber's Austrian driver who spent 19 days in a coma following a horrific crash at Monaco) was definitely the hardest moment as far as the human aspect of the sport goes. But there were also many difficult, stressful times connected with financial problems--particularly as l was responsible for that area and so had to come up with the solutions.

Why do you think a small Swiss outfit that was never able to win a Formula One race managed to command such respect from its competitors?

I believe it's down to the risks we took. Since 1990, 28 (Formula One) teams have disappeared. People often said that it was a mission impossible to run a Formula One team out of Switzerland and yet we did it for 13 years and sold up in the end, not because we had to, but because we had a good opportunity.

I never regretted making the step to Formula One ... We had won all that we could win in the World Sports Car Championship category--including two successive titles and our first and second place win at Le Mans in 1989.

We went into Formula One with the same aim of winning races. But it just so happened--and I'm not complaining about this--that the role of technology increased massively once the big car manufacturers got involved with the sport. The explosion in costs that followed made it impossible for teams with small or medium-sized resources dike ours) to stay on level terms,

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