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F1 2016 Midseason review: Sauber struggles into the summer break

In the first of our midseason reviews we look at the Swiss team Sauber and their difficult 2016 season


As we hit the summer break it’s time to take a breath from what has been a relentless season and look at how the teams have done so far in 2016. Today we look at Sauber.

Sauber have had a long and hard season so far in 2016. They are the only team to not score a point this year and have only gone backwards as financial struggles have prevented development of any kind and even stopped them testing.

Their poor season has been reflected in races like Monaco, where the two drivers clashed and crashed when pressing for 15th place when Felipe Nasr refused to move aside for Marcus Ericsson. While that was their only double DNF for the year they have spent significant time ahead of only Manor’s Rio Haryanto this season and mostly failed in their chase of Renault.

 

Driver Battle

 

 Marcus EricssonFelipe Nasr
AustraliaQ: 16
R: DNF

Q: 17
R: 15

BahrainQ: 17
R: 12

Q: 22

R: 14

ChinaQ: 15
R: 16

Q: 16

R: 20

Russia

Q: 22

R: 14

Q: 19

R: 16

Spain

Q: 19

R: 12

Q: 20

R: 14

Monaco

Q: 17

R: DNF

Q: DNQ

R: DNF

Canada

Q: 15

R: 15

Q: 18

R: 18

Europe

Q: 20

R: 17

Q: 16

R: 22

AustriaQ: 21
R: 15

Q: 22

R: 13

Britain

Q: DNQ

R: DNF

Q: 21

R: 15

HungaryQ: 20
R: 20

Q: 16

R: 17

Germany

Q: 22

R: 18

Q: 21

R: DNF

As you can see it hasn’t been a glorious season for Sauber at all. Any decent finishes have come off the back of disrupted races. The Saubers have been pinned to the back of the grid all year, with 7 back row starts and a pair on non-qualifiers it has been a miserable year.

Marcus Ericsson has had marginally more success and generally been the faster of the two, but it is very slight. The development barrier due to Sauber’s financial trouble has pushed them down the grid from their initial place of fighting with the Renaults down to below the Manor’s now.

Their best performances have come in brief little moments here and there. Ericsson was very racy is Spain, challenging the Renaults and pressing for overtakes and in Austria they held ground well, but the double DNF in Monaco is an extreme low points, as has been two back row lockouts in the last four races. However with a new ownership group coming in just prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix the long term future of Sauber should be secure. Their 2016 season is unlikely to see any further investment though, with all resources and efforts being pushed into the 2017 car.

 

Team Performance

With such a limited budget and massive hurdles to overcome it’s hard to say that the team have performed badly this year. They have avoided major errors, the Monaco incident stemmed from team orders very rightfully being given but not followed by the drivers. Largely though the car has been reliable, especially the old Ferrari engine they have in the back of it. Their performance in the pit

Looking Forward

The horizon is bleak for Sauber. When we get to Spa in 20 days their car will be no better than it has been all season and there is a good chance that they just don’t score at all in 2016. However, 2017 could spell better things. The massive regulation changes give them a chance to hit the reset button and get back towards their old mid-grid form. Sauber have had strong years with the likes of Robert Kubica in the car, when they took a 1-2 in Canada in 2009 as well as 10 other podium finishes – albeit under the BMW banner. Their last strong season was in 2012 when Sergio Perez took a pair of second places and a third while Kamui Kobayashi took a famous third place in his home Japanese Grand Prix. Making an immediate jump back to that stature is probably beyond Sauber’s reach but getting back towards the low points finishes should be their goal for 2017.

At the moment it is believed that neither Marcus Ericsson or Felipe Nasr are signed for Sauber next year, which could be a problem as both drivers bring sponsors and money to the team. Maybe the new owners can draw enough sponsorship for 2017 on their own but having one bringing in some cash would undoubtedly be useful for them next year. If they were to keep one driver I think it would probably be Nasr. The 23 year old has a little more about him and outperformed Ericsson by a decent margin last year.

The second half of 2016 will not be fun for Sauber, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Swiss outfit.

Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

F1 2016 Midseason review: Sauber struggles into the summer break

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