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Top teams will be Sauber's 'trigger' in 2019

  • Published on 28 Jan 2019 15:19
  • comments 4
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur says that the team will judge itself against the top Formula 1 teams next season after a strong 2018 campaign. The Hinwil outfit finished the season eighth in the constructors' championship, bouncing back from two poor seasons.

Although it started the 2018 season poorly, it successfully developed the C37 across the year and ended up with arguably the fourth fastest car in the field at the final handful of rounds.

And as it targets further gains in 2019, Vasseur says it will measure itself against the championship contending outfits: "We were more or less nowhere, so we had to improve in every single department and see," Vasseur told Autosport.

"The reason for how we were getting on on-track was also due to the others - Williams struggling more than expected, McLaren. My trigger is more the gaps between the top teams, the percentage.

"[It is] the best way for me to monitor what we're doing because they have big resources and if we are able to keep the same gap it means we're improving. But we are closing the gap hugely compared to [2017]. Hugely."

The team will field an all-new line-up this year, as 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen returns to partner rookie Antonio Giovinazzi. Other drivers have been open about the potential threat of Sauber in 2019, but Vasseur admits the dire state it was in in 2017 made big gains much easier.

"I don't want to be negative because it's not the mood of the team, but it's much easier to improve when you are four seconds off than when you are fighting for tenths," said Vasseur.

"You know that even the target in the windtunnel, you can ramp up the target, but at one stage you will not become flat [in terms of development] but more or less flat. We were more on the high gradient. It's true. I think the next step will be by far the most difficult."

Replies (4)

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  • Vasseur again speaking with words covered in a tidy blanket of wisdom. But I do think they will go up from now on. I feel they will continue to battle Williams, McLaren and STR for next year, maybe even Haas, Renault and Force India.

    • + 0
    • Jan 28 2019 - 18:14
    • Kean

      Posts: 649

      So basically everyone except the top 3? But that’s the thing with the 2019 season though, it is sooo difficult to judge or predict the pecking order. Ferrari and Mercedes will be up front, if not something has really gone wrong, but it could be that Ferrari is #1 and Merc #2. Red Bull - I think most will expect them to have the best car, the question mark is Honda. If they’ve gotten good, then RBR will battle Merc and Ferrari, but if not they may fall behind (but how far?). Renault – really should be best of the rest, or better than RBR if Honda fails to deliver, so pressure is on. Racing Point – with a bigger budget they should be able to give Renault a run for their money. Haas – given their close ties to Ferrari, they should be up there. However the new aero rules could do them in, it wouldn’t surprise me if they are overtaken by some teams. McLaren – surely they must be better than last year, but will they be able to battle Renault or Racing Point, gut feeling says no. Sauber – huge strides last year and I believe they will have an advantage on the aero compared to Haas. Guessing they’ll be behind Renault and Racing Point, but battling McLaren. Toro Rosso – if the Honda PU is good, then STR will make huge strides, given that they’ll have a RBR clone, likely battling for 5th. But if the Honda is not good, they could be the blue ribbon losers, since they’ll also be sacrificed for RBR. Williams – as much as it pains me to say this but I don’t think they’ll manage to climb that high. I expect them to do better than last year, but I think they’ll be 10th (or 9th if Honda fails).

      • + 0
      • Jan 28 2019 - 20:51
  • Realistic outlook from the man who brought the team out of slump. With the most interesting man of the sport, joining the team, i am sure some sponsors wouldn't mind shifting from RPF, Haas to Sauber.

    • + 0
    • Jan 29 2019 - 04:21
    • Bhurt

      Posts: 320

      I think the people who paid for it all had something to do with it as well...

      • + 0
      • Jan 29 2019 - 12:05

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