The Sauber team will be pinning its hopes on a long-awaited Ferrari engine upgrade bringing it further points’ finishes at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The Swiss outfit currently lies seventh in the Constructors’ Championship standings on 22 points – just five clear of McLaren – having claimed just three further points after healthy double-points’ finishes in Australia and China.
After failing to finish in the points at all in a dire 2014 season, Sauber started the year with a bang in Australia. This was headlined by a superb drive to fifth place by Felipe Nasr, with teammate Marcus Ericsson finishing in eighth place.
But while other teams continued their development push, Sauber’s limited finances have confined it to a handful of minor upgrades over the course of the season and they now compete with McLaren to avoid being eliminated in the early phases of qualifying.
The team badly needs both the cash and technical resources to move forwards, and the recent arrival of Mark Smith – who left Caterham in the midst of the team’s collapse – should help matters.
The first sign of possible progress this weekend will be the arrival of an updated specification Ferrari power unit, which the works team has run since the Canadian Grand Prix. Also in the works are front and rear wing updates, designed specifically for the sweeping, high-speed Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
“We do have our engine update there, but, as we haven’t run it yet, we don’t know what it is going to be like. We are all looking forward to it and hope this will be a benefit for us,” Nasr said ahead of this weekend’s race.
“Spa is my favourite circuit on the calendar. The track is unique, having a lot of high-speed corners and a great corner combination. As a driver you get a nice flow going through these corner combinations. It is a track on which you need a stable car in the high-speed corners.
“I would say the combination of low downforce and traction is essential to be competitive. Going through Eau Rouge flat out will be tricky and, for sure, a challenge. It will be my first time driving this circuit in a Formula One car.”
“The Belgian Grand Prix can be considered the opener of the second part of the season, in which the Sauber F1 team is looking forward to stronger performances thanks to a number of upgrades that will be progressively introduced,” added the team’s Head of Track Engineering, Giampaolo Dall’Ara.
“At Spa both C34 will be fitted with more powerful Ferrari power units and track specific wings. The track is an all-round favorite and demands high-speed cornering performance and straight-line speed, hence aerodynamic efficiency and power output. Traction and braking, although, as usual, important, are second to stability and reactiveness, therefore rather specific set-ups are being worked out.”
The Belgian Grand Prix takes place on August 21-23.
Image via Sauber Motorsport AG