[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] SAUBER: ITALIAN ALLIANCE

The last time Sauber launched its new car with manufacturer backing the squad was under BMW ownership, lasting from 2006 to 2009, second in the constructors’ standings in 2007 its best placing.

This year, the Swiss team is again on the rise with a new marque into the fold, Italian manufacturer Alfa Romeo returning to F1, after an absence of more than 30 years – its storied history including taking Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio to the sport’s first two world championships.

Its new title partnership with Sauber goes beyond traditional sponsorship with technical, strategic and commercial assistance – and a future buyout rumoured to be on the cards post-2020 in the sport’s next era.

SOUNDBITE (English) FRÉDÉRIC VASSEUR,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, SAUBER:
“It means we’ll be much more attractive for everybody, for the media and for the sponsors also, but it’s also an mainly huge motivation for the team to have an iconic brand with us.”

There’s also plenty of promise for the squad on-track, with the new car, the C37, featuring an aggressive design and Ferrari’s latest-spec power unit – but that’s not the only element shared with the Scuderia.

SOUNDBITE (English) JÖRG ZANDER,
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, SAUBER:
“We also have the gearbox of the Ferrari, together with the Ferrari rear suspension, which meant we had to move the rear suspension by about 40-millimetres further backwards.”

Behind the wheel, it’s a combination of youth and experience, with Swede Marcus Ericsson hoping to score his first points since Italy 2015.

SOUNDBITE (English) MARCUS ERICSSON,
F1 DRIVER, SAUBER:
“I’m looking forward to using my experience, it’s my fifth year in Formula 1, to put that to work and do a great season.”

While F1’s top rookie prospect, Monegasque Charles Leclerc, joins the grid for his debut, the Prancing Horse protege arguably the most exciting talent to join F1 since Max Verstappen in 2015.

SOUNDBITE (English) CHARLES LECLERC,
F1 DRIVER, SAUBER:
“I’m very, very excited about 2018. It will be my first year in Formula 1 and I’ve worked very, very hard to arrive here –
so to finally be here is feels incredible.”

With pre-season testing ongoing, though, Sauber is keeping expectations low and its goals realistic in its first season with Alfa Romeo.

SOUNDBITE (English) FRÉDÉRIC VASSEUR,
TEAM PRINCIPAL, SAUBER:
“For sure, we will see where we are after Barcelona, but the most important for me is to improve during the season, race after race.”