"E-motorsport is a rapidly growing business".

Monisha Kaltenborn started her career at the "Sauber" racing team as a lawyer, then took over as team boss and now - 21 years later - has created her own racing driver business. With "Racing Unleashed," she wants to lead Formula 1 into the virtual age. On June 22, she will be on hand to answer questions at the Swiss Racing Lounge in Kemptthal.

Monisha Kaltenborn was born in India and moved to Austria with her parents at the age of eight. She came into contact with racing at an early age, albeit on television rather than live. "I followed the races with my father and was fascinated," says Kaltenborn. She studied law in Vienna and earned her spurs in various law firms before getting the chance to move to Liechtenstein in 1998. To Fritz Kaiser, whose clients include the Sauber team in Hinwil. As a lawyer, Monisha Kaltenborn looks after the various interests of the Swiss company Sauber. Until Fritz Kaiser withdraws from the mandate and Kaltenborn joins Sauber in 2000, thus also moving to Switzerland. She has long since become familiar with the wealth of things behind motorsport. "Motorsport is much more than racing, it's a business with thousands of segments."

First CEO, then also team boss

From 2002, Monisha Kaltenborn is a member of the management team, and in 2010 she becomes CEO of Sauber. She remains so until 2017, but is additionally appointed by Peter Sauber as the first female team boss in Formula 1 in 2012. Peter Sauber transfers a third of the team shares to her.

When a driver dies during a race in Japan, Kaltenborn finds herself on an emotional roller coaster. She senses how highly fragile this extreme sport is. Her family is a rock in this exciting time. In 1999, Monisha married Jens Kaltenborn, a German lawyer, and they had two children together. She enjoys spending time with their offspring, but is of course sorely missed when she packs her bags again and heads off to work, which often resembles a traveling circus on the other side of the globe. "But the contact was always close even when I wasn't there, we talked a lot on the phone, my husband held everything together, I could always rely on that," she says with a smile.

But Monisha Kaltenborn doesn't want to gloss over her time as team boss. Many things were not always positive. As a businesswoman, she is aware of the fragile situation of the company and sees that the drivers are not in the top ranks as she would like. She also knows why this is the case and has no illusions about the future. When a buyer is found for the Sauber team in 2016, she gives up all her shares and says goodbye to the company in 2017 with a clear conscience.

Racing Unleashed is born

Kaltenborn is relieved to have closed this chapter cleanly. She takes her time, reorganizes herself, spends a lot of time with her son and daughter, who have now grown into teenagers. Because she knows the ins and outs of motorsport, she decides to remain true to it, but to take Formula 1 to a new level. Together with an investor, she starts Racing Unleashed - an e-motorsport company that develops, produces and distributes simulators. With the vision of making motorsport accessible to all in racing lounges, while also establishing a new sport. These are the two cornerstones of the company. "People want to have the experience of Formula One racing, they want to feel that speed and then of course try their hand at competing." She also opts for a franchise principle, and so the Racing Unleashed universe is now in locations in Spain, Germany and four locations in Switzerland. It has big plans, already offering competitions in which drivers compete virtually across national borders. Virtual championships can be held using the company's own multi-lounge software. The potential is huge and Monisha Kaltenborn, with her decades of experience in motorsport, can of course now identify the weaknesses and make them better in her new universe. Sustainability is a big issue, but so are pollution and the risks of accidents, which are minimized in e-sports.

At the moment, she is talking to sponsors who might even support an entire team that would then compete in the championships. There are enough enthusiastic youngsters. But most of them never had the chance to really show and develop their talent in simulators. This should now become possible with Racing Unleashed.

Perfect for corporate events

Professional e-motorsport is one track, the other is of course the fun factor for enthusiastic amateurs. Just sit in the race car, buckle up and drive off. I did it myself, it's incredible. I felt every bump, the belt pressed into my shoulders, brake, gas, off into the curve, way too fast, bam, into the side barrier, reverse and off again. Everything was super-straight, I was a little dizzy after 15 minutes of Monza. But just, I am a layman, it was great fun. I will try to get Galledia to organize a company outing with an internal championship, perhaps instead of a Christmas party.

Finally, I'd like to ask Monisha Kaltenborn how many times she's done laps in the simulator. She laughs out loud: "Never, I don't have the time.


You can read a detailed portrait of Monisha Kaltenborn in m&k print issue 6-7/2021, which will be published on July 1, 2021.

Forum marcom suisse: Kaltenborn speaks on e-sport racing

On June 22, 2021, another event will take place at the Racing Lounge in Kempthal, including a racing experience in a high-end simulator. Monisha Kaltenborn, long-time team manager of the Sauber Formula 1 racing team, will speak on the topic of "Reaching the top of the world with e-sports". Register now.

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