Feature: Frentzen Faces Uncertain Future

Heinz-Harald Frentzen is enthusiastic about Sauber's future, even if his own role in it is uncertain.

Feature: Frentzen Faces Uncertain Future

Heinz-Harald Frentzen is enthusiastic about Sauber's future, even if his own role in it is uncertain.

The 36-year-old German will be out of contract at the end of the season with the Swiss team, who have been looking at alternatives. The paddock rumour mill suggests that both Frentzen, the second-oldest current driver after France's Olivier Panis at Toyota, and compatriot Nick Heidfeld will be replaced.

Jordan's Italian Giancarlo Fisichella has visited the Hinwil factory already and Brazilian Felipe Massa, who drove for Ferrari-powered Sauber last year, could return.

Frentzen, three times a race winner and veteran of 152 starts, has sent out few signals about what the future holds as he prepares for what could be his last home appearance in Sunday's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

"I don't want to think about the future at the moment to avoid any complications and misunderstandings," he told Reuters at the last British Grand Prix. "Ask me the question when everything is sorted. At the moment everything is in the process so I can't speak about it."

Frentzen's manager Monte Field, who was quoted at the weekend in Germany as saying that there were no offers from within Formula One, clarified the position.

"We are having talks with other teams," he said. "It is really a question of what you call an offer. If it is something that is ready to sign, then there are no offers. But there are talks and Sauber remain an option... we are not out of the picture there."

Retirement Talk

Asked whether he wanted to stay in Formula One, Frentzen said simply: "I don't want to make any comments about it." Field said such talk was premature but the speculation is already building up that Sunday's race could be a sort of farewell to the home fans.

"I'm still having fun but I don't necessarily have to remain a driver," Frentzen told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "It's more important that Nick stays in F1."

"If I want to continue racing but don't get a new contract, that would be a disappointment. If I don't feel any desire any more, then I won't have a problem quitting," he told Motorsport Aktuell magazine.

Frentzen started his career with Sauber, making his debut in Brazil in 1994, and returned this season following stints with now-defunct teams Prost and Arrows after being dismissed by Jordan just before the 2001 German Grand Prix. He has since resolved his differences with Jordan.

"It was a difficult time in respect of carrying all the weight and all the anger. But it's over," he said. "I know that in a couple of years if you look back, you would laugh and smile about it. That's one part of your life and the next part will come."

Good Start

Second overall in 1997 with Williams, and third in 1999 for Jordan, Frentzen gave Sauber a promising start to the season by collecting seven points from the first three races. Since then he has drawn a blank as the big, manufacturer-backed teams have squeezed out their smaller, independent rivals.

In recent races Sauber, fourth overall in 2001, have been competing more against tail-enders Jordan and Minardi than the big boys.

"We haven't made big enough improvements to be in a different category yet," said Frentzen. "We can get better, step by step, but it will be very hard to collect points in the next few races.

"At the beginning of the season of course everyone is motivated and looking forward but then you see the manufacturers, they all have made a step forward. They all have a strategy of winning the World Championship in the next three years.

"For the private teams it is going to be tougher and tougher. And we are a private team, don't forget it," he added. "But I have to admire Peter Sauber for investing in the future with the new wind tunnel, having a state-of-the-art wind tunnel is quite impressive even as a private team.

"I would say that the lack of success is only temporary. I strongly believe that Sauber will be going upwards."

shares
comments
Bridgestone aims for repeat win
Previous article

Bridgestone aims for repeat win

Next article

Germany Preview Quotes: Jordan

Germany Preview Quotes: Jordan
The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams Plus

The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams

What happens, asks MATT KEW, if the old adage of win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday is no longer true for F1 manufacturers?

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022