The Sauber Civil War

THE Sauber bosses met recently in Switzerland and it seems that Peter Sauber has emerged as the winner of the battle for control of his team. Sauber and his commercial director Fritz Kaiser had been fighting for the team. Both control 24.5% of the shares but Kaiser had engineered a showdown because he felt the team was developing in the wrong direction. Sauber was supported by Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz (who owns 51% of the team) although we believe that the support was conditional on Sauber making a number of changes to the team structure. Sauber is now expected to buy Kaiser's shares in the operation and will then sell them on to another investor. It remains to be seen whether Kaiser will find another role in F1 but he has close links with Flavio Briatore and so could conceivably be involved in a takeover of Minardi.

Sauber is expected to reorganize the management and we hear that former HRD manager Rupert Manwaring is likely to be involved with the Swiss team following the collapse of his talks with Benetton. The Sauber technical departments are being shaken up following the departure of many of the British engineers who had been working with the team. Tim Preston and Steve Clark have already departed and Andy Tilley is expected to follow them back to England. Sauber has managed to convince Willy Rampf to give up his job with BMW and return to the team. Rampf worked for Sauber between 1994 and 1997 as a race engineer before returning to BMW where he had previously spent 15 years in production car engineering. Rampf is already trying to find some new British engineers to replace Preston, Clark and Tilley.

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