By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
The Sauber F1 Team will be hoping for a return to form in its 25th anniversary season competing in Formula 1, with the debut of the C36 as its challenger.
With Manor now gone from the sport, many look to the Switzerland-based outfit as the cellar dwellers for 2017. Although the team is burdened with an older Ferrari power unit, the characteristics of the car matched with reliability from preseason testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya give reason to hope.
|No. 9||Marcus Ericcson||(Sweden)|
|No. 94||Pascal Wehrlein||(Germany)|
|Team Principal||Monisha Kaltenborn|
|Technical Director||Jorg Zander|
|Operations Director||Axel Kruse|
A New Start
With new owners Longbow Finance at the helm for 2017, it will be interesting to see how the journey begins, but they are off to a stout start. The team brings in Xevi Pujolar, former engineer for Max Verstappen, and reunites with Jorg Zander, whom was the Chief Designer on the team during its BMW days and comes over after spending two seasons as a Technical Director for Audi’s WEC program.
It was just two years ago that Felipe Nasr helped lead Sauber to eighth in the constructor’s standings, amassing 27 of the 36 total points. However, that 2015 season was sandwiched between two abysmal outings and with an overhaul of technical changes this looks to be a challenging year for the Kaltenborn-led squad.
As noted earlier, Sauber is running with an older engine in the Ferrari 061. However, the catastrophe that was the C35 chassis has not seen one once of its development put into the new C36. The design isn’t as complex as other teams, but should supply a good base for a team in need of development.
Marcus Ericsson returns for his second season with the team, while Mercedes junior driver Pascal Wehrlein comes in after a solid rookie campaign with Manor.
With the possibility of reliability issues plaguing other teams on the grid, at least for the early part of the season, there is at the very least a chance for Sauber to quietly grab some points.
If the chassis isn’t held back too much by the outdated power unit, some key points could be on the table for Sauber, especially in the early part of the season where reliability concerns could plague other teams.
Realistically, it will be hard for the team to escape the bottom of the standings. That said, if everything comes together for them and they can capitalize on other team’s mistakes, it’s easy to see a return to eighth in the constructor’s championship.