The first female team principal in Formula One is also the only Indian holding a prominent position in a team for the third edition of the Indian Grand Prix.
Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan were part of teams in the first couple of editions but they were left without a racing seat this season, leaving behind Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.
Monisha, born in Dehradun, remained hopeful despite the news of the Indian GP missing the 2014 season and that it may never return to these shores.
“Personally, of course it is a sad news. It’s a special Grand Prix because I was born here. Everything is so familiar,” said Monisha, who currently lives in Switzerland. “It (the absence of the race) deprives me of a chance to come to India. For the sport, it is not good news. India is a very important market. By coming here we could offer the partners we had in Formula One a platform for global expansion... which is clearly important to them. Indian companies were starting to use this as part of their global expansion plan. That is going to be a lot harder to do when you don’t have your own Grand Prix. We are going to lose out on that.”
When asked if the track itself had any problem, Monisha said: “All drivers have been very positive about the track. All drivers have appreciated the track and that is not something that happens too often. A great job has been done here. The question that comes up always is what do you with the track when the race is not happening. I hope this does not turn into a ‘white elephant’. I hope we can come back and the track can be put to use in an efficient way.”
Sauber has always been a breeding ground for some of the best drivers from around the world, but as fate would have it, they would go on to sign up with a bigger team. Nico Hulkenberg is the latest of these drivers who is expected to move to another team at the end of this season.
“Because of the situation we are in, it is inevitable,” noted Monisha when asked about the drivers moving out of Sauber. “We have never gone out there and scouted for drivers. They see something in the team. Driver will go to teams that have the best cars. It’s not frustrating. More often it is a push for us to build a better car.”
She explained further the Hulkenburg situation. “What makes you think he is leaving? (laughs). Well, like every other driver he is also looking out for a team that gives him the best chance to win and we completely understand. He has been very good with Sauber.
He is a great driver and it is more obvious with how many teams have shown interest in him.”