India has a special place in my heart: Sauber head Monisha
New Delhi: Indian Grand Prix is an emotional race for Dehradun-born Sauber F1 team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, who says the native country is where "my heart will always be".
Monisha, who etched her name in the record books after becoming the first woman team principal in the history of F1, feels that her strong Indian connect has helped her to stay focussed and determined.
"Our value systems are very strong. We are very hard working and we are passionate about our goals in life. It helped me a lot," Monisha said on Thursday.
Born as Monisha Narang, her parents shifted to Vienna when she was only eight, but Hindi still remains a part of her daily life.
"Hindi is very much a part of the language of my home and my children speak it a bit, though my in laws struggle to understand it. We cook Indian food and curry is loved in my family."
"Once you are a part of a country, it stays forever with you and it becomes an important part of your character," she stressed.
As a child, Monisha wanted to be an astronaut but things took a turn after she joined a law firm.
"I had never planned it. I was working for a law firm, Frits Kaiser group, and one of the projects was with the Sauber team. F1 was very popular in Austria and was always on the TV. It all started then and has made me what I am today. It`s the determination that matters in any field," she informed.
The team principle, meanwhile, refused to confirm the media reports that suggest Sahara Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg is almost a certainity in their line-up for the next season.
"Nico is a very good driver. We are in talks with a number of drivers and we will make an announcement shortly.
"We are into the business of providing a competitive tool to the driver. We do not run after the drivers, instead it’s the other way round. We are hopeful of finalising our line-up in the next few weeks," said the `First Lady of F1`.
About Sahara Force India, who are 35 points behind Sauber in the Constructors` Championship, Monisha said they are a very competitive outfit and will give her team a "tough time" in the last few races of the season.
Indian GP is in its second year and Monisha feels it is a win-win situation for everyone.
"India is such a big market and with its massive fan following, it is a must for F1 to be here. For the Indian companies, it is a great opportunity to show their technical skills and be part of such an elite event," she insisted.
Monisha, also a member of the Federation International de l`Automobile`s (FIA) commission for Women and Motorsport, meanwhile said, "There is no reason why women can`t succeed in motorsport. Physically, they can undergo the same rigorous training and can compete at the highest level. Our team is promoting four girls in the karting division."
The 41-year-old feels that her new position would strengthen women in the male-dominated sport.
"These are the kind of things where really we feel that in years to come it will be something because this is a long process," she said.