Drafting the Circuits
Formula 1 Report
Sauber Season Review
By Steve Aibel
Only three teams have been on the Formula 1 grid longer than Peter Sauber’s Swiss team. Sauber F1 had scored points in every season in which they have participated in the series, but in 2014 they failed to secure even one championship point.
Zero points! For Sauber, this was a surprise!
The Ferrari powered Sauber C33 came in overweight and was hampered, as were all the cars, with reliability issues from the start. Sauber, however, took too long to get on top of their reliability issues and some technical aspects of the C33, specifically the rear brake by wire system.
The Sauber’s driven by Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, rarely made it deep into qualifying. Only Adrian Sutil made it to Q3, and that was only once at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
This effort was nullified after a first lap after a collision with Sergio Perez of Force India in turn 15 at Circuit of the Americas.
Sutil’s best drive of the year was an 11th place finish while Esteban Gutierrez could manage only 12th. For Sutil and Gutierrez, it is unfortunate that the poor performance of the Sauber effort resulted in their loss of their F1 rides.
From the outside, it appears that the financial backing 2015 drivers Marcus Ericsson (Swedish business interests) and Felipe Nasr (Banco do Brasil) brought to the team washed out the rides of Sutil and Gutierrez. Ericsson and Nasr bring an inexperienced driver team to an already struggling team.
The struggles in Hinwil all appear to be financial in nature hence the drastic change in drivers. Both Ericsson and Nasr bring with them large financial backing. The questions surrounding Sauber ultimately fall on team principal and 33% owner, Monisha Kaltenborn. She has been unimpressive in running the team and might benefit from bringing in a more technical director to navigate the current Sauber waters.
Kaltenborn spent most of the second half of the season bringing up the cost crisis facing the second tier teams and pushing for a more equitable distribution of F1 revenue. She has stated repeatedly that each team should receive enough revenue sharing to compete and cover expenses of the sport.
Kaltenborn is probably correct, but the timing of her arguments are getting buried in Sauber’s poor performance. The best way for Sauber to be heard is simple. Points and Podiums!
Kaltenborn and the Sauber team should be concentrating on righting their own ship before attempting the tackle the financial issues of F1. Unfortunately this duel of fates is intertwined. Many of the issues brought up by Kaltenborn and other mid field teams such as Force India must be solved if teams like Sauber are to become competitive again.
It’s tough when you are right and not being heard!
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