Sauber parts company with CEO, team principal Monisha Kaltenborn

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Sauber Formula 1 CEO Monisha Kaltenborn has parted company with the team with immediate effect ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Kaltenborn has worked with Sauber since 1998 and was appointed the CEO of its motorsport interests in 2010, before becoming F1’s first female team principal two years later.

Kaltenborn played an instrumental role in keeping Sauber afloat amid years of financial uncertainty, with its long-term future being secured following a takeover by Longbow Finance last summer.

The new investors kept Kaltenborn on in her role as CEO and team principal, with Sauber going on a significant recruitment drive in the closing stages of last year. Sauber also recently announced a new engine tie-up with Honda from 2018.

However, news of Kaltenborn’s departure from Sauber emerged on Wednesday morning, just days before the next grand prix in Azerbaijan.

The team is yet to issue an official statement regarding Kaltenborn’s exit, but an announcement is expected later on Wednesday.

According to a report from Autosport‘s Dieter Rencken, Kaltenborn could be replaced as team boss at Sauber by Colin Kolles, who has previously been involved with the Caterham, HRT and Force India projects in the past among others.

Kolles’ most active involvement in motorsport currently is his ByKolles LMP1 team in the FIA World Endurance Championship, but this is set to withdraw from the remainder of the season after the July 16 round at the Nürburgring.

Sauber currently sits ninth in the F1 constructors’ championship with four points from the opening seven races of the season, all scored by Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.