Celebrating a legend of the sport – Beat Zehnder
The 1994 German Grand Prix is remembered for many reasons: Ferrari’s first win since the 1990 season, Jos Verstappen’s fiery pit-stop fire and a double podium for Ligier. But it was also a memorable date for a legend of the Sauber now Alfa Romeo Racing team and, dare they say, Formula One in general: it was the first race for Beat Zehnder as Team Manager of the Sauber F1 Team.
To look back at an incredible career (and an incredible person), we turned to the very man who gave Beat the job – Peter Sauber.
“It all started after the British Grand Prix in Silverstone in 1994: Sunday night, at a legendary party with Eddie Jordan and his band on the stage. We needed a Team Manager for the Sauber F1 Team and I saw that Beat, who was our Chief Mechanic at that time, was in a good mood. I decided to offer him the job there and then – he slept over it and he accepted.
“To understand what kind of person Beat is, however, you need to go even further back in time. It was 1987 and I had put an advert in the local paper, the Zürcher Oberländer, to find a mechanic for our sportscars. Beat got in touch, but the interview was disappointing. He was too young, and he had no interest in racing – he just wanted to be a mechanic. So, I declined. A month later, he called again and as I still desperately needed a mechanic, I gave him the job.
“That was a good decision indeed! The rest, as they say, is history. He became Team Manager seven years later in Hockenheim and now, 25 years on, he’s still an integral part of the team. You just can’t imagine Sauber Motorsport and Alfa Romeo Racing without him.
What a career!
“Beat is the most loyal person you can imagine: he stood by the team in good and in bad times and never wavered, even when other teams tried to poach him away. And believe me, every team could need someone like him! His knowledge of the rules is second to none. That’s where his good relationship with Charlie Whiting came from. Charlie respected Beat as they could discuss things on the same wavelength.
“Dear Beat, all the best on this anniversary – and here’s to the next 25 years!
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
“The last three races have highlighted how close the midfield is and how each race’s fortunes can be decided by very small but crucial factors. We have scored in each of the last few rounds, which is positive, but we need to keep working hard to produce similar results in the final two races before the summer break. I believe we are heading in the right direction and I have full confidence in the work that our people are doing, both trackside and back at HQ. The strength of this team is its people and we are well equipped to take on this challenge: in this regard, nobody embodies the spirit of our team more than Beat Zehnder. I wish to congratulate him on his 25 years as a team manager and I hope he will enjoy plenty more success with us going forward.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
“I am happy about our recent results but there is a lot more work to do to keep scoring. Every little bit of progress helps when the battle is so close and, for sure, when it comes to the track we have to extract everything possible from the car. Hockenheim is a good track to race on and we’ve seen some exciting racing there in the past, so hopefully it will be the case this weekend too. It will be a nice way to celebrate Beat’s career – he’s been a good friend of mine since my debut at Sauber in 2001.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
“I am happy to get back into the car after the disappointment of the last race. I feel we are improving with every race and we approach every round with the belief we can fight for points. As always, it is a matter of making the most of every session, from Friday to Sunday, because you pay for every single mistake, but it’s the same for everybody in the midfield. Hockenheim is a good track and I have won there in F3, so I have positive memories of this place. Hopefully I will be able to add to them this weekend. We are all determined to make this weekend special for Beat – he’s a great guy and it’s a pleasure to work with him.”