Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Sochi Autodrom, 2016

Struggling Sauber to skip test after Spanish Grand Prix

2016 Spanish Grand Prix

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Sauber has confirmed it will not participate in the in-season test at the Circuit de Catalunya following the Spanish Grand Prix.

The team announced on Twitter it will not join the two days of running at the Barcelona circuit.

“We cancelled the first in-season test in BCN [Barcelona],” the team announced. “There are two reasons: One. We will not introduce a car update at the Spanish GP. Two: We do not have a young/test driver available that fulfils the requirements.”

Teams are required to run junior drivers in at least two of the four days of in-season testing. These must be drivers who have competed in fewer than three championship races.

However the team is known to be struggling for funds as team manager Beat Zehnder confirmed on Friday.

“We have financial difficulties, it’s not a secret, but I think the good thing is we are still around.,” he said during the FIA press conference at Sochi Autodrom.

“We’re working hard to solve all the problems but it’s not easy. An annual budget this year is just a massive one and to just cover it by sponsors and the income from Bernie [Ecclestone] is just not sufficient at the moment.”

Sauber is one of two teams which has filed a complaint with the European Union claiming Formula One’s distribution of revenues disadvantages certain teams.

2016 Spanish Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 21 comments on “Struggling Sauber to skip test after Spanish Grand Prix”

    1. What a disaster. We need the likes of Sauber in Formula 1. Going down to 10 teams again would be a disaster for the sport.

      1. If Manor finishes 11th and I am right in thinking that they will get no money from Bernie, then perhaps we are looking at 9, not 10.

        And then FI is in trouble too.

        1. I think it gets spread out over 2 years, but don’t hold me to it. The only reason that would matter is that suppliers are loath to accept credit these days, meaning Manor couldn’t make purchases based on future revenue.

          It is VERY telling that they don’t have a young/development driver. As testing and such has gone away it’s less than 50/50 for teams naming an official third driver, but pretty much every team has one or even two young drivers who are part of a development program or who throw down millions simply to drive the simulator or, if he or she is lucky, drive in a few practice sessions.

          Joe Saward says the real story with van der Garde/having too many drivers is much more nuanced and reflects less poorly on Sauber, but I haven’t seen anyone give enough details to suss out exactly what happened. In the end, that has clearly put them into a vicious cycle where they are having financial troubles which could be ameliorated by signing a development driver, but the financial troubles and appearance of treating those drivers poorly will discourage drivers to sign with them, and on and on.

          1. VD Garde story will hunt them a long time… It looked like they were going to go bankrupt, and Garde brought money in exchange for a seat, Sauber paid salaries and kept alive for a bit longer, but in return the only seat they gave to Garde was a a good look at the seat in a clown suit (a suit of another drive which was way out of size)… Patiently Garde waited for a seat that was never to come… rightfully sued them while it seemed a suicide for his career… it i think pulled plug for sauber as well…

          2. From the little i know the few complications Saward is referring to VD Garde, involve him not going just for a racing seat which may also explain why Sauber was so willing to push him away afterwards.

    2. If Sauber left, it wouldn’t touch the sport I think.

      But I would consider it a disaster. The team goes back way further than that, Peter Sauber was racing sports cars in the 70’s, in 89 Jochon Moss drove the famous Sauber C9 to win the Le mans 24hr. In 1993, at the South African GP they scored points, 2 for 5th place, which was surely as stunning for them as Haas was this year. They achieved their single victory with a 1-2 at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix in the hands of Kubica.

      For christ sake, this is the team that gave us Kimi.

      But, if they left. Probably wouldn’t make much difference. That makes me sad.

      1. Sauber BROKE Le Mans. It was the C9 which prompted the ACO to put chicanes in the long backstraight. The thing reached 400km/h consistently, not with an extreme config.
        They are a team of old school racers, but as other teams before, F1 itself is killing them.

    3. Andy (@andybantam)
      3rd May 2016, 17:59

      This makes for grim reading. I’m feeling very nervous for Sauber.

      1. Things do not look good, but I can’t shake the feeling that potential investors are waiting on a bankruptcy to buy the lot for a symbolic dime and buy the debts. I do not believe Sauber would have the same faith as private teams like Prost, Arrows, Super Aguri, HRT and Caterham, as these teams did not, for their time, have the facilities that Sauber has.

    4. Three: we don’t have the money.

      Very sad, I think the long demise of Sauber has received much less attention from fans than it ought to.

      I hope against hope that the team finds a way to survive, F1 would be a lesser sport withou the Sauber name in it.

      1. Andy (@andybantam)
        3rd May 2016, 18:36

        *nods in agreement

    5. Force India to follow once their assets are siezed

    6. Not surprising. F1 is in serious trouble. How can you market a sport where the same driver(s)/teams get on the podium in practically every race? It’s great for fans of those drivers/teams but the sport is suffering because of it. And nothing is more irritating than people who say that it’s always been like that, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change. Maybe drivers who cause accidents on the first lap should be heavily penalized? The penalty depending on how many drivers are deprived of doing their race?

      We’ve been waiting two years for the vaunted battle between Nico and Lewis. Give it to us!!!

    7. Alfa Romeo will buy the entry for a pound. After what Haas are doing I am sure a few businesses or car manufacturers might fancy doing what Haas have done but with re badged engines.

    8. After Ferrari, McLaren & Williams, they’re the name that’s been in F1 for the longest.

      1. Sad but same happened to the original Lotus team in the 90’s, BRM, Tyrell, Alfa, and the list goes on of big names and historical teams that have left.

    9. Yeah. F1 is expensive as hell. Personally I dont see much benefit to staying in F1 for them… They lack 50-100m euro to be competitive. They should just start selling cars, engineering solutions and rsce WEC or something.

    10. I’m not glad to this. They have a lot of problems…

    11. BJ (@beejis60)
      4th May 2016, 3:54

      No surprise here. As Tost said I think last year to the likes of “we make no money from testing. I’d rather have GP’s instead.”

    12. I did lose tons of respect for sauber when they had signed something like 6 drivers to race 2 cars. That being said it would be sad to see them leave. They have proven that they can build competitive race cars and in the history they have also gone for talent instead of just money. Teams like caterham, hrt or marussia are unimportant. Those are not there to compete. Just to exist. But sauber has a history with the sport. More than just history of existing. Losing sauber would be a genuinely bad thing.

    13. what’s the end game if two of the three vulnerable teams fail? Some new sucker(s) dumps a billion into the sport, or F1 courts a Honda, BMW, or VW to enter, perhaps with FOM management changes as a condition? How do you see this playing out?

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