If there’s one team who has made the big jump in the mid-teams championship, that is definitely Sauber.
The Helvetic team has made big progress, considering that in 2016 and 2017 closed the season respectively with 2 and 5 points scored.
Last year Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson scored collectively 48 points, with the team finishing 8th in the Constructors championship. Unlike previous seasons, Sauber has been able to fight for big points in several occasions: gone are the times when Sauber was close to the top teams only because they were lapped.
The C37 has made a big jump compared to its predecessors, thanks to the 2018 Ferrari Power Unit and the collaboration of Alfa Romeo. The marriage between the Italian brand and the Hinwil team has brought a breath of fresh air, firstly with Luca Furbatto’s arrival as Chief Designer and now with the help of a new Technical Director, Simone Resta, ex Ferrari’s Chief Designer.
With the engine and gearbox supplied by the Prancing Horse team, the Italian duo started working on the 2019 car design already during the summer.
“We switched all resources of the company on next year's car quite early.” Said Friederic Vasseur, Sauber’s Team Principal to Autosport. “We have good expectations but when you have a change like this into the regulations it's a drastic one. You never know.
"You can take the wrong direction and we will understand this perhaps [only at testing] in Barcelona because nobody knows exactly what the others are doing.” He continued.
So many changes in the team, then, including the drivers line up too: Antonio Giovinazzi will finally prove himself this year as an official driver, after two seasons as Ferrari’s and Sauber’s third driver. Alongside him, the man who has brought the last championship in Maranello: Kimi Raikkonen. Year after year, rumours always announced the Finn’s retirement, but he surprised everyone with a two-year deal with his first F1 team.
A big challenge is waiting for him, who is in the business since 2001 and is 39: try to get a podium with Sauber.
“I think we have a good chance to do some great things. Where that’s going to take us, who knows?” Said the Ice Man, who is currently the oldest driver on the grid.
Even if there’s still a lot of Ferrari in his new team, Kimi is ready to work in a smaller one: “It is a much smaller team than where I’ve been, but I’m really looking forward to it, it’s going to be different in many ways but the aim is still the same – do well in races. I think it’s more pure racing and less the other stuff.”
The Ice Man will race again with a Ferrari PU this year, with a shakedown of the car expected to happen on the February 14th in Fiorano; rumours also suggest that it is not the only thing “branded” Ferrari that Raikkonen will find in the Sauber garage.
The german Build suggests that Maurizio Arrivabene (who just left Ferrari earlier this week with Mattia Binotto stepping in his place) can step in as Alfa Sauber’s team principal. All the speculations still can’t find no foundation, with Arrivabene also close to Juventus, where he is already a member of the director’s board.