Former Sauber Holdings chairman Pascal Picci has revealed that his recent resignation from the company was rooted in a disagreement with Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur over the Swiss outfit's 2022 driver line-up.
Picci, the chief executive of Longbow Finance, the entity that acquired a majority stake in Sauber in 2016, oversaw the latter's restructuring in 2018 that resulted in the company's acquisition by Islero Investments, a consortium of investors owned by Swedish billionaire Finn Rausing.
But earlier this month, ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, Picci unexpectedly resigned as the chairman of Sauber's board, a move rooted in a dispute with Vasseur over the team's choice of drivers for next season.
"I do not want to be associated with the management of Fred Vasseur in the future," Picci told the Italian edition of Motorsport.com.
"The way in which the drivers were chosen was one of the points that broke the table between me and the current management."
Alfa Romeo Racing has signed up current Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou for 2022, with the latter rumored to be supported by a generous sponsorship package.
Interestingly, Picci regrets Vasseur's decision to part ways with Antonio Giovinazzi, but he doesn't appear to be against the Frenchman's decision to promote Zhou, which implies that the hiring of Bottas - a driver managed by Vasseur's good friend Toto Wolff - was the decision that "broke the table" between himself and the Alfa team boss.
"I am sorry that Antonio is no longer here, and I am happy that Zhou will arrive," he added.
"I have known the Chinese youngster and also his family ever since we wanted to take him to the Sauber Driver Academy, as well as [evaluate] the commercial opportunities that he can open up."
Picci also shed some interesting light on the reasons that led Islero to consider an outright sale of Sauber to Andretti.
"What happened at the Belgian GP is still an open wound," explained Picci.
"Having had a three-lap non-race behind the safety car allowed Williams to earn points that took away almost any chance of regaining their position in the constructors' championship.
"Spa was an important watershed for us: it was one of the main reasons why we decided to give up F1 and to sell."
Negotiations between Islero and Andretti broke down at the last hour, ahead of last month's US Grand Prix in Austin. But Picci believes that Sauber, with Finn Rausing at the helm, remains in good hands for the future.
"He is free to make choices, he represents the shareholders and is a reliable person who puts all his passion and energy into it," said the Italian-Swiss businessman.
“"I was placed in the minority and I drew my conclusions. Finn remains as trustworthy to me as the other people who represent the company. Without hesitation, I sincerely wish the best possible for the whole team.
"I am calm about the future of the team because the owners of the team are enthusiastic, and very passionate people, whose number one priority is the protection of the staff who make up the team.
"My resignation, therefore, must in no way become a cause for concern for the Sauber staff. Of this I am sure."