Sauber has enjoyed a resurgence after a couple of seasons treading water and trying to survive.
Red and white replaced the blue and yellow hues, Alfa Romeo’s input not just limited to title sponsorship of the team.
SOUNDBITE (Italian): SERGIO MARCHIONNE,
FERRARI CHAIRMAN, 2014-2018:
"I'm also happy to be able to say that the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team will give young drivers the opportunity to show their talent, as Sauber has always done.”
SOUNDBITE (English): MARCUS ERICSSON,
F1 DRIVER. SAUBER:
"We know that we need to do a big step over the winter but I think that together with Alfa Romeo I think we can take that step. And realistically I think the first target will be to score points and fight for points on the regular basis and then build from there."
Rookie Charles Leclerc has done just that. The reigning F2 champion has spearheaded Sauber’s charge, putting his more experienced teammate in the shade.
The Monegasque driver has also become a regular visitor to Q3 as the season’s worn on.
“After the three first races, if you would have told us that we would be fighting on a regular basis at the end of this first half in Q3, we wouldn’t have believed it,” Leclerc said. “So I’m very happy about the progress we have made."
Ferrari’s influence has been felt not only with former chief designer Simone Resta replacing Jorg Zander as technical director, but also with its 2018 power unit.
Sauber is now a genuine mid-field team week-in, week-out … not bad for a team that scored just seven points across its last two campaigns.