After a pointless season in 2014, Sauber enjoyed far better fortunes this time around. But the team failed to live up to its early season promise.
Sauber famously took four rostrum finishes in 2012, on virtue of better tyre management than most of its rivals. The results came at a time when ‘cliff, or a sudden drop in tyre-related performance, was a common phenomenon.
Three years later, it was Sauber who came off worse because of this very cliff. Although this time, the slump in performance was due to its inability to keep up to pace with rivals in in-season development race than anything remotely related to the Pirelli rubber.
At the opening round of the season, Sauber got a promising result in form of a fifth place finish for debutant Felipe Nasr. Teammate and ex-Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson also finished in the top 10 to secure a double points finish for the Hinwil-based outfit. Another strong result followed in China, where both Nasr and Ericsson scored points.
However, Sauber’s performance started to dwindle from that point as the team scored only two points over the next six races.
In fact, the only other noteworthy result during the rest of the year came in Russia where Nasr piloted the C34 to a sixth place finish.
However, if you look at the broader picture, it wasn’t exactly a poor season for Sauber. After scoring a duck in 2014, it desperately needed a good year to combat growing financial issues.
And that’s what it managed, scoring 36 points and finishing eighth in the championship, ahead of McLaren. Sauber took direct benefits from the leapways Ferrari managed over the winter in respect of the power unit, while its own chassis was a step forward over the predecessor.
Nasr, one of the unsung heroes of the year, finished ahead of Carlos Sainz in the standings, despite the Spaniard being equipped with a better car. Although it could be argued that Sainz’s season was marred with reliability issues.
What lies ahead?
Over the coming years, Sauber would be hoping to recover from its lower-midfield position and challenge for podiums again. But financial constraints won’t make it an easy task.
For if the team has requisite funds, it can exploit its advance facilities to the utmost level and no longer be dependent on pay drivers to make it ends meet. Although Nasr has proved that he’s an excellent driver and can seize every opportunity that comes his way, doubts still remain over Ericsson’s capability behind the wheels after another uninspiring year.
By Rachit Thukral