Sauber, which runs the Alfa Romeo Racing team, has not had a good time in F1 this year. The team has finished eighth each year since the new owner stabilised the finances, after taking over in the middle of 2016, but this year the team has slipped to ninth, behind Williams. This is really not a good result when one considers that the team has received significant investment in an effort to improve. This has come from team owner Finn Rausing, who initially owned the team through a company called Longbow Finance, but later through another firm called Islero Investments AG. The firms are very secretive but it is widely believed that the change was caused by other investors in Longbow being unhappy with the ownership of the team.
Initially Sauber was run by Monisha Kaltenborn with wealth manager Pascal Picci in overall charge. In the middle of 2017, Kaltenborn was replaced and the primary roles were taken over by France’s Frederic Vasseur. By the middle of 2018 Vasseur took over the operational roles, while Picci remained in charge of Islero.
In recent days Picci has resigned from his role at Islero. The timing is interesting given that in recent months there has been much talk about Michael Andretti buying the team, but it seems that Andretti and Rausing were not able to agree terms and all negotiations were then terminated, which meant that the operational situation is not likely to immediately change. Whether this is the reason for Picci’s departure is unclear.
It remains to be seen what happens next, but the operational side of the business remains in Vasseur’s hands and Rausing will – quite rightly – be looking for better results in the future.
With renewed backing from Alfa Romeo, Orlen and the Chinese backers of Guanyu Zhou, the team will not be short of funds (and Rausing can always put in money if required) plus the signing of Valtteri Bottas means that there are hopes that things will improve next year. Although every F1 team is thinking the same way and we won’t know until early in 2022 who has done it right and who has done it wrong…