Sauber’s C36 is here. What does 2017 hold for this 25 year-old team?
Sauber have become the second team to release images of their new car. I have to say I love the colour scheme. What better way to celebrate a 25-year anniversary than with a swoosh of gold. The full ‘shark fin’ returns on this car. I’m still not convinced I like this addition to the car, especially when it is left pained black. It’s interesting to see already the different philosophies towards that aspect between Williams and Sauber.
The lack of sponsorship remains a worry for this team, finances must still be tight for them. Those two points courtesy of the departed Felipe Nasr kept the bank account afloat. As the new shareholders, Longbow Finance SA, I would make that a priority for the remainder of the season.
They say their focus has been on the aerodynamic performance of their chassis, with an emphasis on improving balance at high speed. Engineers decided early on that continuing their use of 2016 Ferrari engines would give them the best chance to achieve that goal. The advances in power are going to be less stated than they were this time a year ago. Due to the tightening of engine penalties over the next few seasons, reliability is going to become an even more important factor. As a result, they may not find themselves in the same situation Toro Rosso struggled with last season. It’s still going to take an extremely impressive car to overcome their sacrifice in grunt.
By the sounds of it, they have done everything they can to make the kind of advances they needed. The car is entirely new. Nothing has been carried over from last season. This is good news, as a year ago, they were struggling to put a car together at all. Testing is going to be crucial for the engineers. Each component of this new car is going to need to work as they intended.
Is a target of points a little optimistic?
Sauber are a team desperate for points. The opening rounds are going to offer them their best hopes. Come the middle of the season, the newer engines will have inevitably advanced yet again. With the abandonment of the regulations surrounding engine development this season, I wonder whether it might already be too late for them. Honda say they have taken huge risks. If these risks pay off, they could be potential front runners. Renault are bound to have made steps. Sauber could well find themselves shut out of the points yet again.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Sauber back in the points. As their livery highlights, this team has heritage, and they will always be a staple of Formula One. But their target of consistent points seems ridiculously optimistic. It’s good to be confident, but realistically, they must see the huge challenge they have facing them. This brand new car they have put together is going to need to blow last year’s effort out of the stratosphere.