First glimpse of Sauber’s C37 on track

Date published: February 21 2018

Sauber have released a short clip of the new C37 making its way out on track for the first time as they begin a filming day.

The Swiss team have certainly caught the eye with their 2018 launch and not just because of the switch to a red and white livery to mark the start of their partnership with the Alfa Romeo brand.

Not only will Sauber be working with a current-spec Ferrari engine this year, but many have noted the new aerodynamic components which should help bring the chassis up towards their competitors as well.

The C37 has an updated nose, for instance, a split intake system and two wings coming through the central chassis just like Red Bull’s RB14.

Sauber have also announced a raft of new sponsorship deals ahead of the new season, with sportswear brand Kappa one of the latest to jump on board.

Sauber have set-up early with testing starting next week, using the Circuit de Catalunya for filming purposes to begin with.

Marcus Ericsson later returned the car safely back to base.

Sauber unveil the Alfa Romeo-branded C37

Date published: February 20 2018

The Alfa Romeo Sauber C37 broke covers on Tuesday, featuring intense sidepod details and prominent Alfa Romeo branding.

The new car was revealed online, a little sooner than the team’s intended time.

The car, which will be raced by Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson, is mainly white with the Alfa Romeo branding in maroon – very similar to the concept livery shown late last year.

Featuring the Halo that as of this season is mandatory for all F1 cars, the C37 will be powered by a new spec Ferrari engine.

The new car has a mass of winglets in the sidepod area, something already seen on other 2018 cars, while the nose design is similar to that of Force India’s 2017 challenger.

Fred Vasseur, Team Prinicpal, said: “I am very much looking forward to the 2018 season, and to seeing Marcus and Charles on track. We have put lots of effort and hard work into the C37 over the last few months, and it is fantastic to be launching the new car today.

“Our target ahead of 2018 is clear: We have to catch up with the field and continue improving our performance during the course of the season. We have put lots of energy and commitment into the development of the C37.

“I want to thank our partners and fans for their continuous support. The return of Alfa Romeo to Formula 1 sets another milestone in the team’s history, and I am proud that such a historical brand has chosen us for their return to the sport. We are eager to start the 2018 season as the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team.”

And the boss has every confidence in his two drivers, adamant they will compliment one another.

“I am convinced that Marcus and Charles form the perfect driver line-up, with one being an experienced driver and one a promising rookie.

“Marcus is going into his fourth season with us. He is a valuable part of the team, and we benefit from his experience and precise technical feedback. As for Charles, he has proven his talent in prior categories and deserves to be on the Formula 1 grid this season.”

Last season Sauber finished bottom of the rankings with just five points on the board.

Gallery: Meet the Alfa Romeo Sauber C37

Date published: February 20 2018

Featuring a new aero philosophy that Sauber hope will see them move off the bottom of the table, the C37 was unveiled to the world on Tuesday.

The new car carries the Alfa Romeo branding thanks to Sauber’s new link up with the Italian brand.

Charles Leclerc, in his debut campaign, and Marcus Ericsson have been entrusted with the driving duties for 2018.

Technical director Joerg Zander said of the new aero philosophy: “Speaking about the C37, the car philosophy is much different to that of the C36.

“The aerodynamic concept has changed significantly, and the C37 has several new features in comparison to its predecessor.

“We are positive that the new concept offers us more opportunities and will help us to make improvements during the course of the season.”

The car will be powered by Ferrari’s latest-specification power unit, with the team having run a year-old version in 2017.

And let’s not forget Halo…

Ericsson: My experience can benefit Sauber

Date published: February 20 2018

Despite back-to-back point-less seasons, Marcus Ericsson believes his experience in F1 will benefit Sauber as they look to move off the bottom of the table.

Last season Sauber finished last in the standings with five points, none of which were scored by Ericsson.

The Swede, though, still held onto his race-seat and this season will team up with Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc.

As such Ericsson with his four years of racing will be the more experienced of the two Sauber drivers, and he is hoping that experience will help the tema.

“2017 was a difficult year but we worked hard as a team and made some good progress,” he said.

“I am happy about the way we improved in the end of the season after having had a difficult first part.

“I have developed a lot as a driver and have a good level of experience that can be beneficial to the whole team.”

This season Ericsson’s Sauber, the C37, will be powered by a new spec Ferrari engine as part of the team’s new deal with title sponsor Alfa Romeo.

Asked what he is looking forward to in 2018, he replied: “Working together as a team, and becoming more competitive.

“The partnership with Alfa Romeo is a great opportunity for all of us.

“For me, it feels like a big chance after having worked hard for many years.

“It will be my fourth season with the team, and I look forward to being back on track with everyone.”

‘Title sponsor deal a huge step for Sauber’

Date published: February 17 2018

Having a title sponsor such as Alfa Romeo on board has led to a rather busy winter for the Sauber team, says team boss Frederic Vasseur.

Although Sauber were set to swap to Honda engines for 2018, Vassuer’s arrival as the new team principal saw that deal cancelled within hours.

Instead he strengthened ties with Ferrari, resulting in a new title sponsor in Alfa Romeo and a deal that will see Sauber race new Ferrari engines in 2018.

The deal, though, hasn’t come without a few headaches.

“It’s not extra work on the technical side because we were already flat-out,” Vasseur told RACER.

“The situation is that we changed from Honda to the Ferrari engine and the Alfa Romeo deal quite late because it was the end of July, so for sure we delayed the design a little bit, but it was on purpose.

“On the technical side for sure we are a little bit late and for the company and the marketing and communications team it was also tricky.

“To have a title sponsor for the team is a good move, but also a huge step and we have to reinforce every single department and recruit a lot and so on. But for sure it was an exciting time as well as a tricky one.

“It’s much better to have this problem than to have to deal with the guys in the factory having nothing to do!”

And while the return to Ferrari engines did result in a “small delay” in the design of the 2018 car, Vassuer believes it will be worth it in the long run.

“For sure when we decided to come back to the Ferrari engine the design of the car with the Honda engine was already started.

“That meant a small delay when we had to redesign the back of the car to change the approach a little bit, but that’s life.

“It’s not a big deal, it’s more of a rush for the team but now we have a long-term deal and it’s not a problem if for a couple of weeks at the beginning it is an issue, we have to be focused on the next years and not on the last weeks.”

The battle of the rookies: Leclerc v Sirotkin

Two rookies will contest this year’s F1 World Championship; one arriving on the grid as a back-to-back champion, the other with less success but a hell of a lot better car.

Charles Leclerc

A Ferrari protégé, the 20-year-old Monégasque racing driver will enter Formula 1 this season with Sauber.

Leclerc is one of the hottest talents in motor racing at present having won the 2016 GP3 series title, which he then followed up with a dominant run to last season’s Formula 2 title.

10 podiums in 22 races, seven of which were wins, saw him win the championship with 282 points, 72 ahead of Artem Markelov.

He filled the role of Haas’ test driver in 2016, contesting three successive practice sessions – each of which saw him edge that little bit closer to Romain Grosjean – before making another appearance in FP1 in Brazil.

Moving over to Sauber a year later, Leclerc again tackled four practice sessions. He was faster than Pascal Wehrlein in Malaysia, lost out to Marcus Ericsson in the United States, lost to Wehrlein in Mexico and beat Ericsson in Brazil.

He also spent time in Ferrari’s 2017 car during the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test where he set the pace on Day 1 with a 1:17.746.

“It’s not easy to do well in a different car from what you normally drive,” Kimi Raikkonen told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “But Leclerc has shown great progress, and for sure he will do great things in the future.”

His on-track efforts, undoubtedly aided by Sauber’s new Alfa Romeo deal (it is not easy to enter F1 without serious money behind you), saw Leclerc named as Wehrlein’s replacement for the upcoming F1 season.

However, given Sauber’s form of late, it could be a baptism by fire.

Although a large part of Sauber’s 2017 form was blamed on their year-old engine, team boss Fred Vassuer recently admitted that the chassis was also sorely lacking.

And unless Sauber pull a rabbit out of the hat, or a double diffuser-Brawn GP-esque innovation, it could be another trying season for the Alfa Romeo-backed team.

As such the car is unlikely to highlight Leclerc’s immense talent, however, consistent performances and drawing more from the car that it has to offer could yet see 2018 be his first and last season at Sauber with a possible Ferrari promotion – if, of course, the Scuderia are willing to gamble on one so young.

Sergey Sirotkin

It has been what must have felt like a long road to Formula 1 for 22-year-old Russian driver Sirotkin – and a road that at times looked to have hit a dead end.

Sirotkin may have been a champ very early in his single-seater career, winning Formula Abarth back in 2011, but that marks the beginning and the end of his titles.

Stints in Italy’s Formula 3, the Formula Renault 3.5 series, eventually led to a move to GP2 where he finished P3 in 2015 with Rapax, a result he matched the following year with ART.

His pace, and arguably his sponsorship loot, put him on the fringes of Formula 1, first with Sauber in 2014 and then Renault in 2016. He remained with the team for 2017, putting in four practice sessions but car troubles in Russia and Spain didn’t help while he won one and lost one to Jolyon Palmer later in the season.

However, when it came to discussing potential replacements for the hapless Palmer, Sirotkin’s name was never mentioned – at least amongst those genuinely in the know.

It was a surprise when he entered the running for the Williams race-seat, especially as many thought it was Robert Kubica’s drive bar the signature. Sirotkin, though, impressed the team during his brief test.

He may not have set the headline time but his run on the softs was 1.3 seconds quicker than Kubica.

“We selected him as the best driver available to us, bar none,” Williams’ tech chief Paddy Lowe told Autosport.

“We’re confident that he will be very quick, very consistent, very calm in his working – and I think these qualities will take him a long way.”

The Williams FW41 will give Sirotkin the chance to show he deserves a place on the Formula 1 grid with the Russian keen to quash that ‘pay driver’ tag that has infected the Williams team of late.

The battle

Having raced against one another only twice – when Sirotkin was P10 and P4 in last year’s Baku F2 events to Leclerc’s victory and 2nd place – nothing can be drawn from their personal head-to-head while on the face of it, it is Leclerc who has shone in the junior series.

But given that one’s in a Sauber and the other a Williams, 2018’s rookie of the year title is likely to head Sirotkin’s way based on points. That, though, may be the only time he ever beats Leclerc.

Michelle Foster

Ericsson ‘confident’ of Sauber ‘big leap’

Date published: February 9 2018

Marcus Ericsson is full of confidence ahead of the new season, believing the new deal with Ferrari will make the team more competitive.

Sauber have had to work with one-year-old Ferrari engines in the past but, this year, alongside a new partnership with title sponsors Alfa Romeo, the Swiss team will have current spec power units at their disposal.

“I think it’s a big leap to have the same engine as the Cavallino,” Ericsson told during an event with Formula Medicine this week.

“The team have a lot of confidence and a desire to do well. I got to see the car in a computer rendering and it seems very beautiful – it should be an important step forward.

“Alfa Romeo’s partnership means the return of an historic brand to F1. It is one more reason to believe that Ferrari will give us maximum support to grow. I’m confident.”