Sauber has become the third team to officially launch its 2014 Formula 1 challenger, the Ferrari-powered C33, in an online launch overnight. The car will contest the upcoming season with Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez behind the wheel.
Sauber’s interpretation of the 2014 aerodynamic regulations is – on the surface – a hybrid of what McLaren and Ferrari have revealed in their respective launches over the preceding two days.
The Swiss team’s design sports a ‘proboscis’ nose like McLaren’s MP4-29, although the positioning of the C33’s front wing pylons and its narrower nose give is a much more elegant profile than McLaren’s effort.
Moving rearwards, the C33 sports pushrod front suspension and a pointed engine air intake and cover, while its wing is similar to Ferrari’s, with two central pillars straddling the car’s centrally-mounted exhaust exit.
That being said, Sauber has issued just two images of the C33, making it difficult to judge the overall appearance of the car, which was penned by Eric Gandelin, the team’s chief designer.
“Together, these changes present the engineers with a huge challenge, especially with time pressure also a major factor,” he said.
“We’ve had to make various decisions on the chassis before all the necessary data and information was available to us. That is understandable, given that engine development continues alongside that of the rest of the car up to the last possible moment. And ultimately, of course, that is in our interests as well.
“The radical changes to the technical regulations for 2014 mean that it’s even harder than usual to make predictions for the new season,” he added.
“We know what kind of package we’ve put together here, but it is difficult to foresee what shape our rivals are in. The earliest opportunity to gain an impression of where the teams are in relation to one another will come during testing. The path we have followed with the design of the Sauber C33-Ferrari allows us maximum flexibility, so that we can react quickly. It is also clear that reliability will be an important factor in the first few races in particular. So this is an area which we have given very high priority.”
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn echoed Gandelin, stressing that the team wouldn’t set itself targets for the 2014 season until it knew what shape it was in at the end of pre-season testing.
“We have put a very challenging year behind us. The first half of 2013 in particular was difficult for us, but the second half saw us making significant strides. We learnt a great deal during this time and will be applying the lessons in the new season,” she said.
“Due to the radical changes in the technical regulations, predictions are simply impossible to make at this stage. Even more so than in previous years, any impression of how the teams stand against each other will only emerge once winter testing has been completed. That is also when we will announce our goals for the 2014 season. One thing’s for sure: reliability will be of the essence, especially at the beginning of the season.”
The team enters the 2014 season with a partially-changed line-up, with Adrian Sutil joining the squad as the Force India-bound Nico Hülkenberg’s replacement.
“Adrian is somebody we’ve been observing for some time and with whom we’ve been in contact since September. That is why I’m particularly delighted we’ve managed to get him on board.
“He has repeatedly demonstrated just how fast he is, and he isn’t lacking in experience either, being about to enter his seventh season. In the light of the far-reaching technical changes, that is an advantage not to be underestimated,” Kaltenborn said of the team’s de-factor number one driver.
“After six good years in the same team, it was time for me to look for a new challenge. I’m determined to have a successful future with the Sauber F1 Team and will do my bit to ensure that,” Sutil added. “In recent years the team has repeatedly demonstrated its potential, not least in the second half of the last season. And as for infrastructure, the Sauber F1 Team are a match for anybody. I can’t wait to take on the challenge!”
Entering his second season of F1 competition with be Mexican youngster Esteban Gutiérrez, who claimed a single points finish at the Japanese Grand Prix in a rather patchy debut season. Kaltenborn expects a significant improvement from the young driver in his sophomore year of F1 racing.
“We have long considered him to be a talented racing driver. We know him extremely well as his connections with our team go back several years.
“Last year he had a difficult start, but managed to steadily progress. He has also settled into the team very well. We are confident he can now turn his experience into good results,” she said.
“Last season I had a steep learning curve,” Gutiérrez added, “but working together with the team, I was able to make steady progress. Last year I learnt a great deal and I feel ready for the next step. The 2014 season will be a huge challenge on the technical front, which makes it all the more important to know the people you work with well. I will do everything I can to improve further and to support the team with all the resources I have.”
After coming through a year dogged by rumours over its financial well-being, the lack of new sponsorship on the matte-black car won’t have done much to address these concerns for those outside the team’s inner sanctum.
Existing sponsors – NEC, Claro, Telmex, Oerlikon and Jose Cuervo – all remain, but the car sports some substantial real estate on its rear wing, wing endplates and sidepods that suggest it is on the lookout for a multi-million-dollar naming rights deal.
Images via Sauber F1 Team