Sauber's already-troubled 2016 campaign has taken another hit with the shock departure of its technical boss. Mark Smith only joined the Swiss team mid last year, but he has "decided to go back to the UK for family reasons", Sauber admitted in a media statement mere days before the season opener in Melbourne.
It is just the latest blow for Sauber, after confirming it fell behind in the payment of its February salaries for most of its 300 staff based at Hinwil. "The drivers seem pretty excited about the car," noticed former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, "especially compared to last season. But the team is struggling with financial problems," the Dutchman, also father to Toro Rosso racer Max Verstappen, said in a pre-season feature for De Telegraaf newspaper. "But Sauber also had the 'Sauber-gate' (Van der Garde) story last year and then had their best race of the year in Melbourne. So who knows?" Verstappen snr added.
Elsewhere, Williams confirmed rumours that Adrian Sutil has been replaced as the official reserve driver for 2016 by another former Force India racer, Paul di Resta. The Scot will split his new F1 duties with the DTM touring car calendar, admitting it will be "a busy year". (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing