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Gender plays no role, asserts Kaltenborn
‘Looking forward to the GP in my home country’

Monisha Kaltenborn

Calcutta: Formula One’s first woman Team Principal, the Dehradun-born Monisha Kaltenborn of Sauber, feels gender plays no role in the fast lane. “I don’t think I’ll be seen more in terms of a woman than a boss,” she said.

The 41-year-old said she was waiting eagerly for the Indian Grand Prix scheduled for the next weekend. “I’m particularly looking forward to the Grand Prix in my home country. I feel very attached to India.”

The following are excerpts from an interview, courtesy Team Sauber

Q What the Indian Grand Prix means to her…

A Well, I really have to distinguish between the professional and the private side. From the sports point of view, as far as the Sauber F1 Team is concerned the Indian GP is a race like any other, with the same meticulous preparations and the same aspiration to achieve the best possible result. From a personal point of view, it’s rather different. Obviously I’m particularly looking forward to this race in my home country. I feel very attached to India.

Importance of Formula One for India…

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. 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.

Sauber’s chances at the Indian Grand Prix…

The track layout is very similar to that in Korea. There are slow and fast turns and quite a long straight. However, it will be warmer there and Pirelli is providing different tyres — soft and hard rather than the super-soft and soft ones we had in Korea. That will mean different race strategies. For the C31, the circuit in India is likely to be neither ideal terrain nor particularly problematic. I’m confident that we will manage another decent points haul there.

Life as Team Principal…

I’m very happy at the confidence that Peter Sauber has placed in me. I grew into this role step by step, of course. Peter Sauber’s withdrawal from the day-to-day running of the business has been on the cards for a long time, so this latest step was well prepared. I’m acutely aware of what it means to carry the responsibility for this company, which has been around for over 40 years and involved in Formula One for almost 20 years.”

Whether it is more difficult as a woman to be accepted as Team Principal…

Professionally I’m sure gender plays no role. And as I’ve been around for such a long time, I don’t think I’ll be seen more in terms of a woman than a boss. People who are new to the scene might just do a double-take at first, but that will soon settle down.”

If she is satisfied with Sauber’s achievements this season so far…

With four podium places and now 116 World Championship points, we can certainly be proud of our achievements. Of course there have been races where things didn’t go to plan and we forfeited valuable points. Our ambitious goal remains to finish fifth in the Constructors’ World Championship.

Her personal highlights of this season…

To answer that I’m going to have to take off my sober, objective hat for a moment: it was just so emotional when Kamui finished third in Japan.