Monisha Kaltenborn was appointed principal of the Sauber Formula One team, becoming the only woman team manager in the auto racing series.
Kaltenborn, 41, an Austrian citizen of Indian origin, takes over from team founder Peter Sauber with immediate effect, the Hinwil, Switzerland-based team said today in a statement. She will also continue as chief executive officer of Sauber Motorsport AG, the statement added.
Sauber, who turns 69 on Oct. 13, will continue as president of the board of all Sauber group companies and retains responsibility for strategic direction, according to the statement.
“We decided a long time ago that Monisha would take over from me, but we left the timing open,” Sauber said in the statement. “Now is a good time for both of us, so this is the right moment to pass on the baton.”
The team, which made its Formula One debut in 1993, has had four podium finishes through 15 races this season, including third place for Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi at his home Suzuka circuit four days ago. The Korean Grand Prix, the 16th of 20 events, is scheduled in three days.
Kaltenborn is a trailblazer for women in Formula One, Maria de Villota, who was a test driver for the Marussia team before losing an eye in a July 3 accident. A woman hasn’t raced in Formula One since 1992.
“I send her a lot of support,” De Villota told a news conference in Madrid today. “Women need someone to look up to in motor sports.”
Villota, 32, was making her first public appearance since the crash near Cambridge, England. She said she plans to return to the racetrack as a driving coach in Madrid.