History & Heritage

Dive into our rich racing heritage

History & Heritage

Start

Tales Of The Unexpected

1 January 1959

Tales Of The Unexpected

Start

Start

1 March 1959

Peter Sauber had never been particularly interested in cars, and motor racing didn’t do anything for him at all. The fact that Sauber Motorsport has stayed in business more than 45 years had a lot to do with chance in the early days, but afterwards it was down to sheer perseverance and, later on, a good deal of hard graft and skill.

1960

1960s

1 January 1960
1960s

Peter Sauber’s father owned a company for electrical systems which employed around 200 staff and had premises in Zurich as well as on Wildbachstrasse in Hinwil. Peter Sauber’s career path seemed to be mapped out. He trained as an electrical fitter with the aim of gaining further qualifications and following in his father’s footsteps. But it would all turn out rather differently.

1967

1967

1 January 1967
1967

The very first steps into motorsports: In 1967 Sauber used to drive to work every day in a VW Beetle – until a friend persuaded him to have some tuning work done. For a bit of fun he then entered it in a few club races in 1967. Far more significantly, it sparked his passion for tinkering with cars. He modified his Beetle to such an extent that eventually it was no longer fit for road use.

1968

The Sports Car Era

1 January 1968

The Sports Car Era

1970

1970/1

1 January 1970
1970/1

In 1970 Peter Sauber decided to set himself up as an independent builder of open two-seater racing sports cars. Out of the cellar of his parents’ home in Zurich emerged the Sauber C1. He used the first name of his wife Christiane as the model designation.

1970

1970/2

1 February 1970
1970/2

That same year, he set up PP Sauber AG and moved into a specially built workshop on the premises of his father’s company in Wildbachstrasse. With the C1 he won the 1970 Swiss sports car championship, but soon whittled things down to the occasional appearance as a racing driver. In 1974 he donned his helmet for the last time before turning his full attention to car construction. The “C” was retained as a trademark.

1976

1976

1 January 1976
1976

It wasn’t the easiest of tasks Sauber had set himself: surviving on constructing racing sports cars in Switzerland seemed a doomed prospect. But he would not be deterred and was determined to battle on. The working day often stretched deep into the night and money was in short supply. Sauber achieved international prominence with the C5 in which Herbert Müller won the then acclaimed Interserie championship in 1976. That was followed by his first forays at Le Mans. By this time Sauber Motorsport had four employees on the payroll.

1978

1978

1 January 1978
1978

In 1978 the C5 was leading in the 2-litre class in the Le Mans 24 hours endurance classic until a defective exhaust valve in the BMW engine thwarted the attempt at victory by drivers Marc Surer, Eugen Strähl and Harry Blumer just before the end of the race.

1981

1981

1 January 1981
1981

In 1981 Hans-Joachim Stuck and Nelson Piquet won the Nürburgring 1000-kilometre race in a Sauber-built Group 5 BMW M1.

1981

Sports Cars – The Group C Era

6 January 1981

Sports Cars – The Group C Era

1982

1982

1 January 1982
1982

1982 was a decisive one for Sauber. He was commissioned by Swiss composite materials manufacturer Seger & Hoffmann to build a car for the Group C World Sports Car Championship: it was to become the Sauber C6. During this time he made contact with engineers at Mercedes who expressed an interest in motorsport – though all very much at a private level, as international motor sport had been an unmentionable subject for the Stuttgart carmaker since the tragic accident at Le Mans in 1955.

1985

1985

1 January 1985
1985

In 1985 Sauber began fitting his racing sports cars with Mercedes engines, moving a bit closer to the Stuttgart-based company as a result. Just a year later, Henri Pescarolo and Mike Thackwell won the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres in a Sauber C8. Further triumphs were to follow, ultimately prompting Mercedes’ comeback to international motor racing.

1988

1988

1 January 1988

From 1988, Sauber and his crew acted as Mercedes’ official works team.

1988

Sports Cars – The Golden “Silver Years”

6 January 1988

Sports Cars – The Golden “Silver Years”

1989

1989

1 January 1989
1989

Professor Werner Niefer, Chairman of Mercedes at the time, decided the cars should be painted silver, marking the revival of the famed ‘Silver Arrows’. The highlight of this partnership was the year 1989, which brought not only the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in the World Sports Car Championship, but a one-two result in the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race as well.

1990

1990

1 January 1990
1990

The following year saw a repeat win of the World Championship title. Sauber Motorsport had grown to a workforce of 50. It was also during this time that the junior team was set up, based on an idea of Sauber’s business partner of the time, Jochen Neerpasch. The drivers selected were Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger. Peter Sauber paved the way for all three to enter Formula One.

1990

Preparations for Formula One Entry

6 January 1990

Preparations for Formula One Entry

1991

1991

1 January 1991
1991

With the lustre of the World Sports Car Championship beginning to fade, Mercedes now looked to Formula One. In the summer of 1991 it was declared a joint project, and preparations went into full swing. Sauber set about building a new factory on the company site in Hinwil. However, that November brought with it bad news. Due to the straitened economic climate, the Mercedes board had decided against sending a works team into Formula One.

1992

1992

1 January 1992
1992

Sauber had two options: to accept a financial settlement and withdraw, or to use the money as start-up capital for his own Formula One involvement. In January 1992 he took the plunge, and by autumn the first tests in the C12 were under way, with an Ilmor engine providing power. The company was then employing just under 70 staff.

1992

Formula One – The Early Years

6 January 1992

Formula One – The Early Years

1993

1993

1 January 1993
1993

On 14th March 1993, according to plan, two Sauber C12 cars driven by Karl Wendlinger and JJ Lehto lined up for the South African Grand Prix. With two World Championship points for fifth place claimed by the Finnish driver, this debut turned out an acclaimed success.

1995

1995

1 January 1995
1995

Contracts signed with Red Bull and Petronas in 1995 provided a solid foundation and enabled the Swiss team to establish itself as a firm fixture in Formula One. In 1995 and 1996 Sauber served as the works team for Ford. 1995 also brought the team’s first-ever F1 podium finish with Heinz-Harald Frentzen securing third place at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

1997

1997

1 January 1997
1997

From 1997 onwards the cars were powered by Ferrari engines bearing the name of the title sponsor Petronas. But the breakthrough was some time in coming.

2001

2001

1 January 2001
2001

Finally, in 2001, three high points in the team’s history arrived in rapid succession: the partnership with major Swiss bank Credit Suisse, fourth place in the Constructors’ World Championship secured in mid-October and, just a few days later, the ground breaking ceremony for the team’s very own wind tunnel.

2003

2003

1 January 2003
2003

Inauguration of the new wind tunnel building: Immediately adjacent to the factory building stands the state-of-the-art wind tunnel, which was officially opened in mid-December 2003 and went on stream in spring 2004.

2005

2005

1 January 2005
2005

2005 saw Peter Sauber on the lookout for a new engine partner. Now in his sixties, he was not disinclined to pass his life’s work on into capable hands. An offer from BMW seemed like a good solution. The car manufacturer, which had been involved in Formula One with Williams since 2000, was keen to set up its own works team. On 22nd June 2005, BMW announced its acquisition of a majority stake in the Swiss team.

2006

Formula One – The BMW-Sauber Era

1 January 2006

Formula One – The BMW-Sauber Era

2007

2007

1 January 2007
2007

Factory extension: Located between the first factory and office building (completed in 1992) and the wind tunnel building (opened in 2004) is the most recent extension, which was occupied at the end of 2007.

2008

2008

1 January 2008
2008

The 2008 season – the third year of the BMW Sauber F1 Team – would mark the next milestone in the history of the team. The extension at Hinwil had since been completed and the workforce had crossed the 400 threshold. The team’s target for that year was to achieve its maiden victory – which turned out to be a one-two, with Robert Kubica winning in Canada ahead of Nick Heidfeld. In all, the BMW Sauber F1 Team notched up 11 podium places in 2008. Kubica claimed the team’s first pole position in Bahrain and Heidfeld boosted the statistics with the first two fastest race laps. The team ended the World Championship in third place with 135 points.

2009

2009

1 January 2009
2009

Following a challenging start to the 2009 season, shock news broke on 29th July: at a press conference in Munich, BMW announced it was withdrawing from Formula One at the end of the season. The company bowed out with 36 points and sixth place in the World Championship. The next press conference would be held on 27th November 2009, this time in Hinwil. Peter Sauber had reached an agreement with BMW and bought back his life’s work. But the joy was tempered by disappointment as BMW had already decided to reduce the workforce. Employee numbers were whittled down from 388 to 260.

2009

Formula One – Starting Over

6 January 2009

Formula One – Starting Over

2010

2010

1 January 2010
2010

It was with this pared-down workforce, with Ferrari as engine partner and drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa that the Hinwil team embarked on the 2010 racing season – its 40th season in motor racing.

2011

2011

1 January 2011
2011

After a good first half of the season, which saw the team occupying what looked like a safe sixth place in the Constructors’ World Championship, the team endured a drop in form. The Sauber F1 Team eventually finished seventh in the Constructors’ Championship on 44 points. Kobayashi was responsible for 30 of those, with Pérez recording 14 points. Both Kobayashi and Pérez, together with Mexican reserve driver, Esteban Gutiérrez, were confirmed for the 2012 season as early as the summer.

2012

2012/1

1 January 2012
2012/1

2012 was a very good year for the Sauber F1 Team, headlined by four podium finishes, 126 World Championship points and sixth place in the constructors’ standings – a position higher once again than the previous year and an achievement that earned the praise of many outside observers.

2012

2012/2

11 October 2012
2012/2

11th October 2012 marked a milestone in the history of the team – the day when Sauber stepped down as Team Principal and passed on the baton to Monisha Kaltenborn – making her Formula One’s first-ever female Team Principal.

2013

2013

1 January 2013
2013

The Sauber F1 Team started into the 2013 season with a new driver pairing. Nico Hülkenberg joined the Swiss squad for his third Formula One season. Esteban Gutiérrez was promoted from test and reserve driver to a race seat. The Sauber F1 Team finished the 2013 season seventh in the Constructors’ World Championship. Looking at 2012 where the team finished in sixth, this result was hardly satisfying. However there were also positive aspects: after the C32 had been barely competitive at the beginning of the season, the team was able to significantly improve during the second half of the season by scoring 50 points.

2014

2014

1 January 2014
2014

Esteban Gutiérrez went into his second year together with his new teammate Adrian Sutil, who was going to contest his seventh season. Due to different reasons, the Sauber F1 Team was not able to match its direct competitors from the beginning of the season. Insufficient performance, lack of reliability, mistakes by the pit crew or the drivers. In the course of the season the Swiss team was able to pick up on its competitors. However, the gap to the front was simply too big to be closed completely. The result was sobering: with zero points the Sauber F1 Team finished the World Championship in tenth position. It was the first time in the history of the team it finished a season without any championship points.

2015

2015

1 January 2015
2015

The Sauber F1 Team started with a new pair of drivers in its 23rd Formula One season, relying on two young, talented and highly motivated drivers — Marcus Ericsson and rookie Felipe Nasr — for the 2015 season. Regarding the Sauber C34-Ferrari, quite a bit had happened as well – not only did the design change, but also the colours from grey to yellow-blue. Furthermore, the Swiss team made progress from a technical point of view. Moreover, in 2015 the Sauber F1 Team celebrated an outstanding anniversary: the United States Grand Prix at Austin marked the squad’s 400th GP in 23 years of Formula One. By scoring 36 points and finishing eighth in the constructors’ championship, the team increasingly improved compared with the previous year.