Sauber attacks claims of driver favouritism

2017 F1 season

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Sauber has issued a stinging attack on media reports of driver favouritism on the same day it has sacked its team principal.

In a statement issued alongside another announcing the departure of Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber attacked unspecified claims about its drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

“The owners and board of Sauber Motorsport AG take strong exception to speculative and widespread media reports today that our race drivers have not been, and are not being, treated equally,” it said.

“This is not only patently untrue, it would be contrary to the team’s absolute and longstanding commitment to fair competition.”

“These reports, attributed to anonymous ‘sources’, are highly detrimental to both Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein as well as to the management and all staff of the Sauber F1 team.”

Ericsson and Wehrlein have driven together in five race weekends. Antonio Giovinazzi started the season in Wehrlein’s car as the team’s new driver missed the opening rounds due to injury.

During those five races Wehrlein has out-qualified Ericsson 4-1. He also scored the team’s only points finish to date, in Spain.

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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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30 comments on “Sauber attacks claims of driver favouritism”

  1. “What a scurrilous accusation, each driver gets exactly the treatment they have paid for”.

    1. hahahaha. I saw what you did there.

    2. Fukobayashi (@)
      22nd June 2017, 9:37


  2. Neil (@neilosjames)
    21st June 2017, 23:30

    I kind of assumed that sort of thing happened anyway, to some degree or another… heard enough to convince me the ‘Swiss’ financial people who bought the team were somewhat friendly with Ericsson, so this particular claim surfacing isn’t all that unexpected.

  3. Where were these “widespread” media reports of which they’re complaining? Seems like they may just be drawing more attention to something that was pretty low-profile as far as I can tell.

    1. German serious media like DER SPIEGEL

    2. Indeed, @flatdarkmars.
      Never crossed my mind; but now I’ll pay extra attention to how they treat each driver ;)

  4. I’m really confused here, I don’t understand who has said that she was favouring who?

    We know there is one driver she didn’t favour and that is Giedo van der Garde.

    1. She was reported to fight for equal equipment, since she felt Ericsson was always given the best material and Werhlein is the better driver.

    2. the team’s absolute and longstanding commitment to fair competition.

      Guido probably simply lost the longstanding musical chairs competition in Melbourne 2015 ;)

  5. Is it even possible? The cars are exactly the same.
    Except when Wehrlein crashed last race and they had to put on an old rear wing.

    1. When did he crash? if your talking about Monaco then that’s Jenson’s fault

      1. Qualifying Canada.

    2. @Joka: What makes you think the cars are the same?

  6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    22nd June 2017, 0:02

    I know that some people are tired of me comparing these 2 drivers. I still think they have shown to be at about the same level really.

    Qualifying and championship points has clearly got Wehrlein’s way and points are what matter most. So that is good for him, and good for the team.

    But other than Bahrain, Ericsson hasn’t been far behind in qualifying and his race pace has been pretty similar or much better in the races.

    In Bahrain, Wehrlein was clearly better in qualifying, but in the race, Ericsson was only 7 seconds behind 5 laps from the end when he was slowly catching. He then had to retire. Clearly not as good as his team mate, but a reasonable recovery.

    In Russia, Wehrlein did set a faster time in qualifying, but not by much. However, he and Palmer spun and one or other of them prevented a possible better time from Ericsson. In the race, Ericsson finished 30 seconds ahead of Wehrlein. That is a fair chunk.

    In Spain their qualifying performance was incredibly similar. Just 0.005 in it resulting in Wehrlein getting into Q2 and Ericsson just missing out. Wehrlein drove a great race and got points for the team although did make a mistake which cost him a couple more. Ericsson was very nearly as strong as him here IMO but didn’t have a strategy that worked out as well. He finished around 20 seconds behind and considering the strategy difference, that was still a pretty strong result for a Sauber if you look at the position he manged.

    In Monaco, it was a bit of a poor weekend from both of them really. Ericsson crashed in qualifying as well as a silly mistake in the race. But if we compare their race pace from the start of the race to when Wehrlein retired, Ericsson was a huge amount better. He was 35 seconds ahead. Even if Wehrlein had been let down by strategy, I don’t think he’d have been this far behind.

    In Canada, this was a race where Ericsson truly did beat Wehrlein. Wehrlein had a huge crash in qualifying and his race pace was really poor. It resulted in him finishing nearly 40 seconds behind Ericsson in last place.

    To Ericsson’s credit as well, all those who thought Wehrlein did an amazing job in qualifying in Spain to get in to Q2 and saying that is very impressive for a Sauber, Lets not forget that Ericsson managed this in both of the first 2 races. All of these performances were impressive for a weak car.

    I don’t think this will be true, but does anyone think if there reports of driver favouritism, then are Sauber doing anything to help Ericsson out as he’s been with the team for longer? Other than the fact he hasn’t got any points, I think his race pace has quite clearly looked better than Wehrlien’s this year overall. Wehlein is better in qualifying and I’d say make less mistakes too probably. I don’t know if the team are helping Ericsson out in any way they shouldn’t but i think this is unlikely.

    I personally think they are both decent drivers. But I don’t think one is clearly better than the other. From what we have seen so far, I’d say they are both average with the occasional stand out drive as well as a few poor ones.

    1. reports indicate that due to interests high up at Sauber, Ericsson has been getting superior treatment.

    2. They are about equal, while Wherlein has something extra.

    3. Fukobayashi (@)
      22nd June 2017, 9:42

      There is no smoke without fire and for what it’s worth I think Wehrlein is clearly the more talented driver. That the differences between them have been marginal yet still in Pascal’s favour suggests to me there is something afoot here. Either way, Pascal has a bright future within the Mercedes stable and Ericsson can keep his seat and his Tetrapak funding at the tail end of the grid.

  7. Might be me but i don’t recall anything about Sauber favouring one driver over another, maybe this is just a smoke screen to deflect interest away from the big issue, a team principal being sacked for daring to disagree with the owners.

    1. Is this only in german media? Could even be Wehrlein’s management that planted this story. They are anxious that Ericsson will continue to outpace him.


        1. @edmarques Well, who benefits most of a rumour like that.
          Just read the Autosport article where Ericsson says.
          “It is completely false and untrue,” said Ericsson. “It’s very disrespectful towards every single member of Sauber F1 team.”

          Also the Sauber board and owners denies that the drivers are not treated equally.

          The Wehrlein response is a little diffrent. “No comments”

  8. For what it’s worth Sauber is still in F1 because Tetrapack family money backing Ericsson decided so.

    Now I don’t think there is any obvious sign of favoritism but Ericsson is pretty much at home and I can imagine that he gets priority for some limited resources / parts.

    On a longer term they seem to have ambitions and means so I’m pretty sure this will be moot point. Especially if Honda manages to deliver something less ridiculous for next year.

  9. Sauber often uses two completely different strategies for their drivers in the race.

  10. In two seasons (one with Manor) Pascal has two points Ericsson has ZERO

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      22nd June 2017, 13:42

      Pascal has actually now got 5 championship points. 1 in Austria 2016 and 4 in Spain this year.

      Both of these were down to lots of retirements, the same as most times Ericsson has scored in the past. There will have been 2 races last year or possibly more that Ericsson would have scored if there were more retirements. For example, in Mexico, only a Manor retired, yet Ericsson still managed 11th. While other people disagree, I think his performance here was better than Wehrlein’s Austria drive and probably about as good as his drive in Spain. If there had been a multi car crash at the front of the grid at the start of Mexico like there was in Spain, then Ericsson will have been 8th or quite possibly higher. I’m then quite sure more people would have remembered his drive. If Bottas, Kimi and Verstappen hadn’t retired and Massa hadn’t had all the bad luck, Wherlien would have been 12th, about the same position as he’d have been in Austria 2016 if it wasn’t for retirements. Still a great position but they never look quite as good if you don’t get points do they? Probably why Ericsson’s decent results just outside the points are not remembered. Both of these drivers have had several equally strong races. Ericsson’s just been unlucky that when he performs, there has been less retirements. Ericsson will have also scored at leased 1 point I think in Spain if he’d been on the same strategy as his team mate. Even though he’d had 2 stops, which clearly didn’t work out as well, the time gap between them wasn’t anywhere near as large as when Ericsson has beaten Wehrlein this year.

      Facts are facts though and Wehrlein is the driver out of these 2 who has been getting points in the last 2 seasons and Ericsson hasn’t managed any.

  11. Last year have happened exactly same thing with Felipe Nasr… The press in Brazil spoke several times of Sauber favoring Ericsson, since the team barely had money to put the cars on the track… and now the german press also speaks that. Maybe it really can be true…

    1. Nah. Just like Der Spiegel they’re trying to sell copy. Last year there was a lot of hot air from Nasr about how poor chassis #2 was but when they switched, Ericsson had no problems with it. At another point, Nasr destroyed the floor of his car by riding too aggressively over the kerbs and had no choice but to go back to an older chassis same as this year Wehrlein destroyed his new rear wing and had to use an old spec. Now, both Brazilian and German media would have you believe that as Ericsson was not forced to hand over his car (to Nasr) and rear wing (to Wehrlein), this is proof of favouritism against Nasr/Wehrlein. Also, Nasr’s incredibly stupid move to refuse team order to let through the much faster Ericsson and instead deliberately closing the door at Rascasse which saw both cars out is what cost him his Sauber drive. In the support race (GP 2/3?) there were several successful overtakes at the very same point that serve to highlight that Nasr’s move was deliberate. Yes, in accordance with the the rules last year Ericsson got the penalty because he instigated an overtaking manoeuver which caused a race-ending crash but make no mistake – in the eyes of Sauber, Nasr was 100% to blame.

      Another point – just look at how silent British media and fans are about Jolyon Palmer, unquestionably the worst driver on the grid by far this year – the results say so – yet jump on the bandwagon whenever the finger is pointed towards Ericsson or Stroll.

      1. Nasr was significately faster on the first season, that pretty much shows that something was different on the second season when the team was sold. I don’t believe Ericsson improved that much in just a few months after 2 years of little progress.

        1. I know for sure that a Mechanic put a screwdriver in Nasr’s engine every race the second season.

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