Despite scoring points in Spain and clinging on to the lower-midfield this season, Sauber are not resting on their laurels and are producing significant upgrades for Austria.
Monisha Kaltenborn confirmed this morning that the ultimate aim is for a regular midfield berth. However there is a lot of pressure for these upgrades to be successful, not least in part due to the deficiency in the engine department. The 2016 Ferrari engine is not being developed, and as a consequence other teams are pulling further away. This was highlighted by the speed trap figures in Canada, where during the race Stoffel Vandoorne’s Honda ran a faster speed than Pascal Wehrlein.
Where Sauber has a benefit in this season compared to last is that they possess the requisite funding to push upgrades through at a faster pace. The deal signed last season with Longbow Finance has started demonstrating its worth and it is hoped they can push the team on to better things. Having scored points this season with Wehrlein’s magnificent run in Spain, the team are focused on the battle at the basement end with McLaren, whose struggles have been publicised in great detail.
A common theme with teams at the back of the grid is a tendency to lack downforce. This is the Achilles heel of Sauber, and was evident in Canada, with both Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson struggling to enter a corner with the required confidence to carry the speed forward. There will be circuits where the upgrades will not be effective, Monza being a fine example. However, if the engine remains reliable and a couple of topsy-turvy races are thrown in, then there is no reason why Sauber can’t steal some more points and maybe even beat McLaren.