F1 2018 Pre-Season Report: Sauber
Ahead of the opening race of the 2018 Formula One season in Australia on March 25, we take a look at how each team is shaping up for the new campaign.
Here we assess Sauber's chances of success in the first season of their partnership with Alfa Romeo.
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2017?
Sauber have developed an unfortunate reputation as one of F1's perennial strugglers, and 2017 was no different as they finished 10th in the constructors' standings for the third time in four years.
Their five points were, at least, an improvement on the two-point haul of the previous season, with Pascal Wehrlein responsible for the sum of their total after top-10 finishes in Spain and Azerbaijan.
It was not enough for the young German to keep his seat for 2018, however.
THE 2018 LINE-UP
Ericsson is retained for a fourth season at Sauber despite having not contributed a single point since racking up nine in his first campaign with the team in 2015.
The 27-year-old Swede has always denied that his own backers were linked to a takeover of Sauber in 2016, but there is no doubt Ericsson has been afforded more opportunities than most to impress in F1.
Leclerc has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in motorsport over recent reasons, winning the GP3 series in 2016 before being crowned Formula 2 champion last year.
The Ferrari junior will be aware of the need to impress, with predecessor Wehrlein left without a seat this year, but his primary focus should be outperforming team-mate Ericsson.
THE TO-DO LIST
- Sauber have to make the most of their new technical partnership with Alfa Romeo. 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.
- Help Leclerc fulfil his potential. Being part of the Ferrari system means Leclerc may well have Kimi Raikkonen's seat in his sights come the end of this season. With that kind of motivation, Leclerc could fly if given a car capable of fighting for points.
HOW WILL THEY FARE?
Not finishing bottom of the constructors' championship should be the priority for Sauber. They should look to pick off the likes of Toro Rosso and Haas, as well as McLaren if the fallen giants continue to struggle.