F1 2017 Pre-Season Report: Sauber

Updated: 

Ahead of the opening race of the 2017 Formula One season in Australia on March 26, we take a look at how each team is shaping up for the new campaign.

Here we assess Sauber's chances of success in their 25th F1 season.

 

HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2016?

It was a year to forget for Sauber in 2016. The Swiss team were second-bottom in the constructors' standings and had a joint-high nine retirements across the course of the year. Their only top-10 finish came in the penultimate race of the campaign when Felipe Nasr placed ninth at his home grand prix in Brazil.

It was not enough for Nasr to retain his seat, but Sauber, who appointed Jorg Zander as their new technical director in November, have drafted in the promising Pascal Wehrlein and have been working hard in pre-season testing - Ferrari and Mercedes were the only teams to register more laps during the first session in Barcelona.

THE 2017 LINE-UP

Marcus Ericsson

More will be expected of the 26-year-old Swede in his fourth F1 season. His past three campaigns have accumulated just nine points, all of which came in 2015.

However, last season he finished in the top 12 four times, suggesting that some slight improvements could see him back among the point-scoring places. He finished eighth in Australia in 2015, and how he and his team would lovely an equally impressive start this year.

Pascal Wehrlein

Former Manor driver Wehrlein was heavily linked as a replacement for Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, whose driver development programme he belongs to, when the world champion surprisingly retired just five days after winning the drivers' title.

He is clearly considered one of the top prospects in F1, but his preparation for the upcoming year with has been hampered by a back injury sustained at the Race of Champions that forced him to miss the first testing session in Barcelona.

THE TO-DO LIST

- Sauber have to make something positive out of their 25th year in F1. Long gone are the days of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica steering them to second and third in the constructors' championship in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Increased reliability is of paramount importance for them.

- Get the best out of Wehrlein. The 22-year-old scored more points than new team-mate Ericsson in the previous season by guiding his Manor to 10th at the Austrian Grand Prix. Work ahead of the new season has not been ideal, but Sauber must do their utmost to make Wehrlein's presence count.

 

HOW WILL THEY FARE?

Ultimately it looks set to be another tough year for Sauber. And with Manor now defunct there is a serious possibility that they could be the new whipping boys for the rest of the grid.