Turkish GP 2020 - GP preview - Alfa Romeo
An exclusive club is ready to admit a new member: the Turkish Grand Prix will be the 500th Formula One race entered by the Sauber team, an important milestone for us as we write another important page of our history. From the South African Grand Prix in 1993, Sauber’s debut race after the dizzying heights of sportscars domination, to this weekend’s race in Istanbul, in which we will compete under the current denomination of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN, the Hinwil team has always represented commitment, passion and technological excellence.
We take great pride in joining the “500 Club”, a very exclusive group of teams comprising some of the most historical names in the sport – only Ferrari, McLaren and Williams have passed the 500 Formula One events’ mark. Cars produced in our Hinwil headquarters have graced the Formula One grid for nearly half the 1,032 races that will have taken place with Turkey; we flew the Swiss flag in 28 of the sport’s 70 seasons; and we famously stood on the highest step of the podium in one occasion, in Canada in 2008. When we take to the grid as Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN, this weekend, we will do so embodying this history, this passion, this tradition.
Our team’s is a history of pushing the boundaries. From our first season in the sport to the current generation of hybrid cars, Sauber has been at the forefront of development, producing new technical solutions, discovering talent and refining the cars in the pursuit of excellence. It’s this constant push for progress that has allowed the company to refine the know-how and experience that allowed to branch out to non-motorsport businesses, through its Sauber Engineering and Sauber Aerodynamics companies. It’s this search for perfection that lives in the team’s partnership with Alfa Romeo, producing developments for track and road alike. Technologies evolve; people come and go; but the spirit is the same, the commitment to succeed in one of the most competitive contests on the planet unchanged.
But this is not just any technology business: this is a team made up of people. We never made a secret of the importance of the human factor in whatever we do. These 500 races are the result of the work, commitment and devotion of hundreds of employees who, since 1993, have built the team into what it is today. One of these employees is our Sporting Director, Beat Zehnder, who has the remarkable distinction of having been at each of these 500 events. Team lore has that he missed a single session, an FP1, since that day in Kyalami – a testament to his dedication to the Sauber cause.
As we enter the “500 Club”, we join some of the biggest names in motorsport. Five decades since our story started in Hinwil and half a thousand F1 races since 1993, we have earned our place there.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
“The 500th race for the team is an important milestone, one that shows the incredible heritage of this outfit: we are now in a very small group in the company of some of the most historical teams in the sport and that shows the strength of our project. As an independent team for most of our history, we have shown that it’s possible to build a long-term project and we are confident the best is yet to come – the next 500 races will be even better. It would be nice to celebrate this occasion in style with another good performance, especially after the double points finish we scored in Imola, which was a big confidence boost for the team. The progress we have made is a positive, as is scoring points in three of the last five races, but we know there is a lot more work to do before we are where we expect us to be. Returning to Turkey will be another chance to continue on this path: it is another track on which there is not a lot of information available and we can use it to our advantage.”
“This weekend’s event will be race 500 for the team: I am not very interested in numbers, but it’s a big milestone, especially for all the people who have been working for the team in all these years. As for the race, it’s nice to come back to a place like Turkey. It’s a track that made for good racing in the past, so it will be interesting to see how the modern Formula One cars do on it. Everyone talks about turn eight but, with the performance cars have now, it may not be as impressive from within the cockpit: of course, it will be nice to watch, but there are many other corners where a driver can make the difference there.”
“It’s going to be a special weekend for the team, 500 races is an incredible milestone and the fact only three other teams ever made it to this number before shows just how impressive an achievement this is. This is a team that feels like a family and I am sure everyone is really proud of our history, so hopefully we will have a good race to celebrate in the best way. I have never raced in Turkey, it’s going to be a completely new experience for me but I’ve been watching footage of the last events there and it seems like a great track: I can’t wait to be in the car on Friday.”
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