Years of underachievement, coupled with F1’s skewed revenue distribution system, put Sauber at the brink of extinction. No wonder the top management of the team was frantically searching for investors earlier this year, with team principal Monisha Kaltenborn notably absent from several races.
Fortunately, Sauber was rescued by new owners Longboy Finance Group, who are expected to invest fresh funds to revive its fortunes.
However, until the new investors came on board, the team operated on limited funds, which had a direct impact on its performance.
Several planned upgrades didn’t make it to production line. Indeed, the team introduced only one update - a new rear wing at Hockenheim - in the first 12 races of the year.
Unsurprisingly, the team toiled at the back of the pack, fighting with Renault and Manor. The latter’s 10th place result in Austria put Sauber a step backward, relegating it to 11th in the championship.
Sauber’s driver line-up, comprising of pay drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr, is also uninspiring. While little was expected from Ericsson after his debut season with Caterham, Nasr’s results were certainly underwhelming, given his decent track record in GP2.
The duo infamously crashed in Monaco, costing the team a possible points finish. Their inability to exploit opportunities remains a major weakness for the Hinwil-based team.
Now with finances secured, Sauber faces an uphill task to end the season on a high, with a major upgrade planned for Spa. The team would be looking to end their pointless streak, and in the process overhaul Manor for 10th place in the standings. The subsequent extra funding would prove rather useful for the Swiss outfit to stand on its feet again.
That said, a clever strategy to switch entire focus to 2017 may also pay greater dividends in the future.
by Rachit Thukral