In October 2012, Monisha Kaltenborn became the first woman to lead a Formula 1 team: two years earlier, she had been appointed CEO of Sauber Motorsport AG, and when Peter Sauber, the founder of the Swiss team, decided to retire, he transferred all powers to Kaltenborn.
She remained in this post until the summer of 2017. By this time, the contradictions with the new owners of Sauber, the Longbow Finance SA investment fund, had finally escalated, and Kaltenborn had to leave – since then, the team has been led by Frederic Wasser.
In 2019, she became the CEO of Racing Unleashed, a Swiss startup specializing in the development of racing simulators, and rarely gives interviews. But she agreed to talk with the journalist of the tabloid Blick, saying that it was not easy for her to work in Formula 1 because of the bias.
“Sauber was surprised when I started working in the legal department (in 2000), many people didn’t know me then,” Kaltenborn recalls. – Although the fact that I was invited to the Formula 1 team, there was nothing particularly surprising. For example, when Bernie Ecclestone was the head of the championship management, women always held important positions in his commercial structures.
When I became the team leader, the press began to complain to me, since my education has nothing to do with motorsport, but this could not offend me. Journalists have repeatedly reproached me for being a lawyer by my diploma, while ignoring the fact that many prominent figures in Formula 1 had a legal education. Max Mosley, Gianni Agnelli, Luca di Montezemolo, Adam Parr – they are all lawyers. It was ridiculous to accuse me of this.
Fortunately, there were not many representatives of the press who allowed themselves to do this. Overall, though, I didn’t feel like I was trusted, and at first it was annoying. But at some point I decided for myself: “These men are incorrigible!”
As the head of the team, I was responsible for its results, but no one asked me about them, and I wondered all the time why. Journalists asked questions about FIA politics, about Ecclestone, about sponsors … But no one wanted to talk to me about sports. It took a long time before this attitude changed. In fact, in order to analyze the sports side of the matter, you do not need to have some kind of magical gift. I am used to dealing with numbers, and in Formula 1 everything is based on indicators and relationships. There is no need to think too much.
At the same time, many in our industry took my appointment as a team leader as a completely logical step. Together with Peter Sauber, I was involved in the buyback process of Sauber Motorsport shares from BMW to prevent the team from closing. Together we overcame a lot and worked very closely, so when the chance arose, I took it.
Although Formula 1 is still mainly a man’s business, and the proportion of women working in this area is relatively small. Hopefully this will change soon. However, women need a certain amount of courage, because their work is constantly under close scrutiny. If you make a mistake, you are severely criticized. Outdated stereotypes are common, and there is often an opinion that you are not doing a job precisely because you are a woman. And when everything is going well, it means that a good team of specialists helps you. I had to get used to such judgments …
I still watch Formula 1, for example, the race in Imola was just exciting. But usually I do not sit all two hours in front of the TV, because I prefer to do other things at the same time. “
Source: Формула 1 на F1News.ru by www.f1news.ru.
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