Sauber came into Formula 1 at the South African Grand Prix in 1993 and JJ Lehto scored points for the team with a fifth-place finish. It was a good start that held a lot of promise for the team, but as the years rolled on the team experienced a lot of ups and downs. They have had several partnerships and major sponsors that have had rolls within the team, from Mercedes-Benz and BMW to Red Bull and Petronas. They got their only poll position and win as BMW Sauber in 2008, both were provided by Polish driver Robert Kubica. The pole came in Bahrain and the win in Canada.
More recently Sauber have seen themselves relegated to the back of the grid. In 2014 they failed to score a single point, which started a run of poor years what saw them finishing near or at the foot of the Constructors championship. In 2018, thanks to the talented young driver Charles Leclerc and a partnership with Alfa Romeo that opened the door to sharing information and parts with Ferrari, they picked up an 8th place finish and look to be on the rebound. Can you pick up the baton and drive the team forward? Can you get them back to the top step of the podium?
Career mode in F1 2018 provides a unique challenge for every team. With Sauber that challenge is their expectation of scoring regular points despite handing you just the 9th best car on the grid. This means you need to dramatically out-perform the car you are in and hope that others suffer some misfortune ahead of you.
These expectations are rather lofty, but Sauber’s overall performance level is only a hair behind that of McLaren and Toro Rosso, and not too far from Haas. While winning points in Australia may be tricky, come the European season you should be firmly in the midfield and competing. The trick will be to nail your race strategy to minimise pit stops and gain a few places on the first lap when the pack is bunched up. The AI has a tendency of sticking religiously to the racing line even when the concertina effect is severe, allowing you to dive up the inside of several cars.
Sauber also expect you to show sportsmanship, so praising your teams hard work and your rival during interviews will be important.
Sauber’s initial performance is not great. You do have the Ferrari power unit in the back, giving you a nice power edge on the three Renault-powered cars as well as the Toro Rosso Honda. Unfortunately, the chassis department ranks 9th, and the aerodynamics are tied for last with Williams. This makes the overall package of Sauber rather inconsistent and unpredictable. The car has a tendancy to snap coming out of corners and even with assists like traction control on it is not an easy machine to control.
You start with 1,500 resource points at Sauber and you should begin by investing in the efficiency booster in the chassis department and the first minor upgrade which is a weight reduction. This will not only save points in future but also start to address the main problem with the Sauber and open the door for a major upgrade, which is again in weight reduction.
You do have access to two major aero upgrades (front and rear downforce) straight away, but to buy them so early you’d need to sacrifice an efficiency booster and quality control modifier. These two should be your next targets after the first two chassis upgrades though. Once all four parts are fitted you can put some points into the engine and begin to create a car that can really challenge in the top 10.
Here you can see the full R&D tree for Sauber. The chassis department becomes a maze of interconnecting improvements, with the ultimate upgrades tucked away at the back. The aero department is much more linear though, and the ultimate drag upgrade is the fastest one you can access.
Bringing Sauber all the way to the front is a long and arduous journey. It doesn’t take too long to compete directly with the likes of McLaren and Force India, but bridging the gulf in performance to the top three teams is a challenge that will take a lot of time. Smart strategy and being careful with your tyres could result in an early podium at places like Monaco or Hungary where the AI has a really hard time overtaking, but you are likely going to have to wait until season 2 before you can begin to compete with the big three, and that is provided that there aren’t regulation changes that stymie all your progress.
Season 3 will be your likely championship window with Sauber, making them a team that is not for the faint of heart. However, there is no feeling quite like a long struggle that results in triumph, and guiding Sauber to their maiden championship would certainly count as that.
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