New Delhi: The first woman to lead a Formula One team has another reason to look forward to the Indian Grand Prix next week — it's in her country of birth. The 41-year-old Monisha Kaltenborn was promoted from Sauber's chief executive to its team principal last week, and she said her main focus now is on ensuring the Switzerland-based team improves on its four podium finishes this season.
"The Indian GP is a race like any other, with the same meticulous preparations and the same aspiration to achieve the best possible result," Kaltenborn said in a Sauber statement. "From a personal point of view, it's rather different. Obviously, I'm particularly looking forward to this race in my home country."
Sauber is sixth in the F1 constructors' standings on 116 points, 251 behind leader Red Bull, and Kaltenborn believes the team can rise at least one spot with four races left in the season. "Our ambitious goal remains to finish fifth in the constructors' world championship," she said. "And I have the utmost confidence, both in our team at Hinwil and in the crew at the track along with our two drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. Of course, there have been races where things didn't go to plan and we forfeited valuable points."
Perez is 10th and Kobayashi 11th in the drivers' standings.
Kaltenborn moved from India to Austria when she was 8. She later earned a Masters law degree before joining Sauber in 1999, winning promotion as CEO in 2010 and becoming a 33 percent partner in the team five months ago. Peter Sauber's retirement last week gave Kaltenborn her new role.
Kaltenborn said F1 can do well in India despite cricket being the country's main sporting obsession. "Basically, it's difficult for any sport to find a place in India next to cricket. But I do think that the interest in Formula One has risen significantly since its debut last year," Kaltenborn said. "At least the media interest we are experiencing as a team would strongly indicate that.
"It seems right that India, as an upwardly mobile nation, a huge marketplace and a high-tech location, has found a place in the Formula One calendar with its excellently trained engineers. Both Formula One and the country can benefit from it."