'SO, WHAT SHOULD WE DO?' Sauber F1 boss Monisha Kaltenborn (right) huddles with senior crew after a court order prevented the team joining first practice for the 2015 Australian F1 GP. Image: AFP / William West
MELBOURNE, Australia - Team founder Peter Sauber has defended Monisha Kaltenborn after the court debacle that preceded Formula 1's 2015 racing season first Grand Prix.
Ultimately, Indian-born Kaltenborn was smiling as the sun set on Sunday's Melbourne paddock as her drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson scored more points in just this one race than the Swiss team did in the whole of 2014.
In fact, Sauber is an astonishing third overall so far this year, ahead of Williams and Red Bull - but then nearly half the field either failed to start or failed to finish.
Earlier the now low-profile team founder Peter Sauber was moved to leave his native Switzerland and make the long trek to Australia as the Giedo van der Garde saga threatened to pull the curtain on the team's 22-year history.
In the end, just as he was touching down in Melbourne, Kaltenborn had managed to settle the courtroom dispute with the disgruntled Dutch driver, even though the saga is now likely to roll on to Malaysia.
"I can't talk about any of that," Kaltenborn said late on Sunday, but at least Sauber's terminal lack of pace appears to be solved, perhaps thanks mainly to the engine improvements brought by 'power unit' supplier Ferrari.
Kaltenborn said: "The whole package is better... Ferrari has made a giant leap with the engine but we have also managed a step forward with the chassis."
She did acknowledge, however, that Sauber's troubles were not over. "I do not believe new sponsors will suddenly come but I would love to be surprised."
'THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN'
Indeed, potential new backers will look not only at the good result from Sauber in Australia but also at the enormous criticism about Kaltenborn's handling of the Van der Garde situation. As recently as Friday the news media were asking if she would step down.
Peter Sauber said that was not going to happen. "Without Monisha Kaltenborn," the 71-year-old Swiss told Blick newspaper on Sunday, "there would be no Sauber."
He also told the Neue Zercher Zeitung newspaper: "I would not have bought back the team (from BMW) six years ago if she had not declared her willingness to participate. It was a joint decision and I was very, very lucky to have her in this position.
"Many other teams in the paddock would also be very lucky to have this woman."