Valtteri Bottas, Sauber, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Sauber “being very aggressive for a small team” with early car upgrades

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Sauber will pursue what it calls an aggressive upgrade strategy for its new C44 chassis over the opening races of 2024.

Speaking exclusively to RaceFans, technical director James Key said the team intends to bring a series of improvements to its latest design early in the season.

“The launch spec is okay,” said Key. “Race one spec is something new. Not entirely visibly, it’s not everything, obviously, but there will be some new bits on the car… at the first race. And then we’ll see new bits the next, following races.”

Key joined Sauber from McLaren last year, but arrived too late in the year to have a significant, immediate impact on the C44 design. It is a significant departure from the team’s 2023, which competed under the Alfa Romeo brand, and includes a switch to pull-rod suspension at the front of the car.

The team is recruiting more staff as it prepares to become Audi’s factory F1 team in 2026. Key said their development programme is ambitious given the team’s current size.

“For a small team we’re being very aggressive with this,” he said. “The team have reacted brilliantly to such a heavy demand. We’re pulling together and working out ways of how we actually achieve that, when really you could do with some more manpower or some more capabilities around. But we will continue with that.”

The team, which fell from sixth to ninth in the championship last year, intends to take stock of its position after getting the first batch of updates on the car.

“We will assess where we are, we can either continue with that or we will step back and think let’s just take our time over the next step, maybe have a larger coalescent step later,” said Key. “But yes, as it stands, we’re going for a pretty aggressive approach at the beginning of the year.”

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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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6 comments on “Sauber “being very aggressive for a small team” with early car upgrades”

  1. This photo looks like a prank on Bottas or a game of statues, the first one in the car wins.

  2. Coventry Climax
    29th February 2024, 9:50

    This all sounds like they’ve just re-invented the wheel.
    I thought the essence of any top sports was to try all you can, any time, all the time, every season, to get to first place?

    1. I thought the essence of any top sports was to try all you can, any time, all the time, every season, to get to first place?

      When your continued participation is largely irrelevant of the performance, it has an influence. They can deny that all they want, and pretend they’re really trying to win, but it’s clear that they have neither the staff nor the facilities to make that happen. Nor have they done anything to change that in the last 15 years.

      1. That should be the other way around, of course: their performance is irrelevant to their continued participation.

        Remember that Sauber was one of the two teams who flagged the current commercial structure to the EU, but was ‘persuaded’ by Liberty having ‘transparency’ (read: they upped the guaranteed pay-out).

  3. They are certainly being very aggressive upon one’s eyes.

    1. I was surprised by how striking it actually is on track. Surely though it wouldn’t add much weight to add full colour to the full width of the nose and the full width of the rear wing.

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