|Full name||Sauber F1 Team|
|Base||Hinwil, Zurich, Switzerland|
|Team principal(s)||Monisha Kaltenborn|
|2014 Formula One season|
|Race drivers||21. Esteban Gutiérrez
99. Adrian Sutil
|Test drivers||36. Giedo van der Garde
78. Simona de Silvestro
37. Sergey Sirotkin
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Debut||1993 South African Grand Prix|
|Latest race||2014 Russian Grand Prix|
|Races competed||381[N 1]|
|Race victories||1[N 2]|
|Pole positions||1[N 3]|
|Fastest laps||5[N 5]|
|2013 position||7th (57 pts)|
Having not won a Grand Prix as an independent, the team was sold to BMW in 2005, and competed as BMW Sauber from 2006 to 2009, scoring one victory. At the end of the 2009 season, however, BMW pulled out of Formula One and the team's future remained uncertain for several months, until it was sold back to Peter Sauber and granted a 2010 entry. However, due to issues with the Concorde Agreement, the team remained as "BMW Sauber" for the 2010 season. In March 2010, Peter Sauber announced plans to change the team name during the season, but the FIA announced that they would have to wait until the end of the season to change their name. From the beginning of the 2011 Formula One season the team dropped BMW from their name.
- 1 Sports cars
- 2 Formula One
- 3 Racing record
- 4 Footnotes
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Peter Sauber began building sports cars in the 1970s. After using turbocharged Mercedes V8 engines in the 1980s, his team became the official factory team of Mercedes-Benz, reviving the Silver Arrow legend. They won the 24 hours of Le Mans and the World Sports Prototype Championship (1989 and 1990), competing against Jaguar and Porsche. Among others, drivers such as Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Jochen Mass, Jean-Louis Schlesser and Mauro Baldi raced for Sauber.
Sauber participated in a number of other racing series before its involvement in Formula One, such as the Swiss and International Sports cars championships and the 24 hours of Le Mans. The first Sauber car, C1, was built in 1970. Sauber, in partnership with Mercedes, won the Le Mans 24 hour race in 1989 and the World Sports Prototype Championship in 1989 and 1990 with the Sauber C9 and Mercedes-Benz C11 respectively.
Beginning and partnership with Mercedes-Benz (1993–1994)
The first 'turbo era' of Formula One ended with the 1988 Formula One season. The 1.5 litre turbocharged engines were phased out in favour of normally aspirated 3.5 litre engines. A massive demand for engine suppliers and a constant influx of new teams saw car manufacturers like Subaru, Porsche and Lamborghini enter Formula One as engine suppliers and sometimes buying out existing teams. Other projects never progressed beyond design studies, such as one carried out by Simtek for BMW. It was a turbulent time that led to the withdrawal of many small teams and even more famous marques such as Brabham and Lotus.
A planned Mercedes collaboration with Sauber to enter their own Formula One team was shelved, although behind closed doors Mercedes continued to fund Sauber's Formula One project. The team was to be powered by V10 Ilmor engines in a chassis dubbed the C12, a continuation of Sauber's naming policy from sports car construction (the 'C' was a reference to Peter Sauber's wife Christine). It was to be piloted by JJ Lehto and Karl Wendlinger.
The car's racing debut took place in the first race of 1993, in South Africa. The car was soon turning heads not only for its sharp FW14-like lines and striking black livery but its impressive performance, claiming fifth place, (Two points under the scoring system at the time) on its grand prix debut. Despite this impressive entrance to the grand prix scene, over the remainder of the season the team rarely saw the finish line due to unreliability and racing accidents. However, they proved their form was not a flash in the pan recording a slow stream of points finishes and rarely finishing outside the top ten when they actually completed a race distance. Despite not achieving a podium, they ended the season with twelve points, seventh out of the thirteen original entries.
The team went into the 1994 season as Sauber Mercedes, now officially Mercedes' factory-backed team with a new car in the Sauber C13 and the Ilmor engine rebadged the Mercedes 3.5 V10. New team Pacific Grand Prix Ltd took a customer supply of more dated Ilmor units. Between seasons Lehto had signed to Mild Seven Benetton Ford. Former Sauber sports car driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen took up the role as Karl Wendlinger's team mate.
Early signs showed the team were, rather disappointingly, delivering similar performances to the previous year, scoring a small tally of points in the opening rounds. The season took a turn for the worse after a 4th place by Wendlinger following the tragic deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at the San Marino Grand Prix. Just two weeks later, Wendlinger was seriously injured after crashing in practice for the Monaco Grand Prix; losing control of his car under braking for the Nouvelle Chicane. He suffered serious head injuries, which left him in a coma for weeks and was sidelined for the rest of the season. He was replaced by Andrea de Cesaris and a returning Lehto who had been replaced at Benetton after injury complications.
The Wendlinger accident was a pivotal moment in Formula One history. Together with the death of Ayrton Senna, it later prompted the mandatory implementation of head protection for drivers in the form of high cockpit sides. Sauber voluntarily pioneered prototypes of these to protect their drivers.
They would finish the season with the same points tally as the previous year but finished only eighth out of the fourteen original entrants. Mercedes were dissatisfied with the progress and left the team at the end of the year, enticed by an offer from the McLaren team, who were still looking for a new works deal since Honda withdrew from the sport. The partnership would see Team McLaren Mercedes take their first win in 1997 and both titles in 1998, but left Sauber to pick up the works Ford engine deal from Benetton.
Red Bull partnership and Ford engines (1995–1996)
The 1995 season and Sauber C14 marked the beginning of a ten year sponsorship deal with energy drink giants Red Bull. Entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz had purchased a majority share in the team and Fritz Kaiser joined as commercial director. They landed a factory supply of Ford ECA Zetec-R V8 engines. The 1995 season saw the return of Karl Wendlinger partnering Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Unfortunately, the Austrian's serious accident in 1994 seemed to have taken a lot out of his driving potential and he was replaced after two races by rookie Jean-Christophe Boullion.
The season, for Frentzen at least, went surprisingly well. The team finished on a record eighteen points despite the under-performing Ford engine and Jean-Christophe Bouillon, who was again dropped allowing Wendlinger to make his final F1 appearance. They also climbed back up to 7th in the constructor's championship.
1996 saw Sauber's worst Formula One season in terms of points despite a promising driver lineup in Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Johnny Herbert, a revised C15 and the new V10 Cosworth ED engine. Despite again holding seventh spot on a shrinking list of constructors, they only scored 11 points and had not impressed for much of the season. For the next season they announced a customer deal to receive Ferrari V10 engines while they worked with new sponsors Petronas to construct their own engines. Unfortunately, due to a major economic crash in Asia the engines were never completed.
Petronas engineering (1997–2005)
Sauber used Ferrari designed engines (from 1997 to 2005) and gearboxes built by Sauber Petronas Engineering, a company founded for the sole purpose of building these engines, that were nearly identical to the ones used by Ferrari. Sauber licenced nearly every legally licensable part from Ferrari and even had several Ferrari engineers on staff. Many pointed out suspicious similarities between Ferrari and Sauber chassis, but no formal accusations were ever made (FIA rules require each team to design their own chassis).
In 2001, Sauber brought a virtually unknown and very inexperienced Kimi Räikkönen into Formula One, despite the protests of a few drivers and influential members of the FIA, including Max Mosley, that he would pose a danger to other drivers. His performances that year, however, more than vindicated their decision (he would later go on to win the 2007 Drivers Championship with Ferrari). It also caused Red Bull to sell their majority share in the team to Credit Suisse in protest (Red Bull wanted Enrique Bernoldi to take the seat but he wound up at Arrows). In 2004, Sauber spent a large sum of money on a new wind tunnel at Hinwil, and a high performance supercomputer (called Albert) to help refine the aerodynamics of their cars. The state-of-the-art infrastructure Sauber has built up is one aspect that attracted BMW Motorsport to Sauber.
In its later years, Sauber's links with Ferrari became weaker. They sided with the non-Ferrari teams over planned rule changes at the end of the 2004 season and also joined up with the GPWC. Then they decided to switch to Michelin tyres, while Ferrari continued to use Bridgestones. BMW ownership commenced from 1 January 2006 with BMW buying Credit Suisse's share in the team. Sauber's final grand prix came in China 2005, with Massa scoring a welcome sixth place to round off the team's history. Sauber departed F1 with six third places and two front row starts their best results. Amongst other notable Sauber drivers were Jean Alesi, 2008 Formula One championship runner-up Felipe Massa, Johnny Herbert and 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who raced for the team in its final season. Two former Williams and Sauber drivers drove for the new BMW Sauber team in 2006, Nick Heidfeld who was a Sauber driver from 2001–2003 and Villeneuve, who drove for the team in 2005.
BMW factory team (2006–2009)
At the end of the 2005 season, the team was bought by BMW, with Peter Sauber retaining a 20% stake, and was renamed BMW Sauber. BMW sold its part to Peter Sauber again after the end of the 2009 season, but the team formally used the name 'BMW Sauber' until the end of the 2010 season.
For the 2006 season the team signed Nick Heidfeld from Williams to be their lead driver, while 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve had his existing Sauber contract confirmed. Pole Robert Kubica was signed as the team's third driver. The team continued to use Sauber's facilities, mostly for chassis construction and wind tunnel testing, while BMW's headquarters in Munich were responsible for building the new P86 V8 engine.
Former Sauber title sponsor Petronas renewed their contract with the new team, as a simple team sponsor, as did Credit Suisse. For the new season BMW Sauber announced a technical partnership with Intel and O2, claiming that it will eventually lead to technological improvements available on BMW road cars.
The new livery, unveiled in Valencia on 17 January 2006, was the traditional BMW blue and white with a hint of red.
Jacques Villeneuve scored the team's first points with a seventh place finish at the 2006 Malaysian Grand Prix, after Heidfeld retired from fifth with an engine failure late in the race. Over the first two thirds of the season the drivers picked up points with a succession of seventh and eighth place finishes.
The team ran a radical "twin towers" aero enhancement on the front of the car for the race in Magny-Cours, France, which was meant to direct airflow to the rear and thus improve performance. This unconventional add-on was promptly banned by the FIA as it was adjudged to impede the drivers' vision and thus compromise safety.
Heidfeld scored the team's first podium at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix from 10th on the grid. Kubica stood in for Villeneuve, BMW stating that Villeneuve could not drive due to medical complications following his accident at the German Grand Prix. Kubica finished seventh, although he was later disqualified for an underweight car. After the Hungarian Grand Prix, BMW announced that Kubica would complete the season for the Swiss team, spelling the end of former world champion Villeneuve's F1 career.
Kubica scored BMW Sauber's second podium of the season at the Italian Grand Prix, after running in third place for most of the race and leading briefly during the first round of pit stops. Heidfeld struggled in the race and barely earned a point by finishing eighth. The team's fifth place in the constructor's championship was cemented by Heidfeld's two further points at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix, and Toyota's early double retirement from the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.
On 19 October 2006, it was announced that Robert Kubica would partner Nick Heidfeld for the 2007 Formula One season with Sebastian Vettel taking the test and reserve driver role. On 21 December, it was announced that Timo Glock had been signed as the team's second test driver. The team launched their 2007 car, the F1.07, on 16 January 2007.
The new car showed promising form throughout the winter testing, topping the times sheets on occasions. However, team principal Mario Theissen declared some reliability concerns before the season's opening race in Melbourne. Robert Kubica duly retired from 4th place mid-race with gearbox trouble, but Nick Heidfeld proved their pace in winter testing was no fluke as he raced to 4th place. Heidfeld has continued this success with two more 4th places in Malaysia and Bahrain respectively. Kubica finished 6th in Bahrain after retiring in Australia and mechanical trouble in Malaysia.
Their performance thus far had been such that many were saying a race win was likely after firmly establishing themselves as the best team behind championship leaders Ferrari and McLaren. Although the perceived performance gap between the two leaders and BMW Sauber was a fair amount, it was still less than that between BMW Sauber and the teams behind them.
The Canadian Grand Prix brought mixed fortunes for the team. While Nick Heidfeld scored a 2nd place finish, Robert Kubica suffered a huge crash that resulted in a long safety car period. The media was initially told Kubica had broken his leg, but it later proved that he had escaped with only a sprained ankle and concussion.
Sebastian Vettel took his place in the US Grand Prix, finishing in 8th place and therefore becoming the youngest driver to score a Formula One World Championship point. After the European GP, however, it was announced by Scuderia Toro Rosso that Vettel would take the second driver seat from Scott Speed.
On 21 August 2007, BMW confirmed its driver line-up of Heidfeld and Kubica for the 2008 season. Their 2008 car, the F1.08 was officially launched in Munich at BMW Welt on 14 January 2008. It made its track debut at Valencia the next day, with Robert Kubica driving.
The BMW Sauber team has also introduced a new scheme for the team as a whole, every individual will get "fit for pole", from the boss to the cleaners, meaning that the team will be in optimum fitness for the 2008 season. Team principal, Mario Theissen boldly targeted the young team's first Formula 1 victory for 2008, a bench-mark many outside the organization felt was overly ambitious.
BMW Sauber started the season well with Kubica narrowly missing out on pole after a mistake in his main qualifying lap in Melbourne. He later retired after being hit by Kazuki Nakajima but Heidfeld finished second. Kubica took second in Malaysia, with Heidfeld in 6th setting the fastest lap of the race. The team's points total of 11 was their largest score up to that time. In Bahrain, Kubica scored his and the team's first ever pole position, beating Felipe Massa by just under three hundredths of a second. The team went on to finish 3rd and 4th in the race, equalling their highest round points total and promoting them to first place in the constructors' championship for the first time.
BMW Sauber's first race victory came in the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, the team achieving a one-two finish with Robert Kubica's first race win and Nick Heidfeld taking second place. The victory came after Lewis Hamilton collided with Kimi Räikkönen in the pitlane, ending the race for both drivers. Kubica was on a different refueling strategy from Heidfeld, who also briefly led the race before securing the one-two finish for BMW Sauber in comfortable fashion. This was the first Formula One victory for a BMW engine since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix.
After the team's breakthrough win, development was switched to the 2009 season where new regulations come into play. This greatly annoyed Kubica, (who was leading the championship after the Canadian Grand Prix), as he felt they could have had a realistic chance of taking at least one title. The lack of development was reflected with a drop of form throughout the second half of the season, causing BMW to be outpaced by Renault, Toyota and even Toro Rosso (who started the season as one of the slowest teams) by the end of the season. Despite this, Kubica remained with an outside chance of taking the drivers championship until the Chinese Grand Prix, the 17th round out of 18.
Although BMW Sauber targeted the 2009 season as the year they would challenge for the title, their start to the season has been a disappointment. Kubica was in 3rd place in the opening round, when he collided with Vettel while battling for 2nd place and was forced to retire. Heidfeld then secured the team's first podium of the year in Malaysia, but after 6 races BMW Sauber had collected a mere 6 points, and occupied 8th place in the Constructors' Championship out of 10 teams. A raft of upgrades were set for Turkey, including an improved regenerative braking system (KERS) and a double deck diffuser. While the new diffuser was implemented, the KERS could not be made to fit the new car and both drivers raced without the device. After the qualifying session for the British Grand Prix Mario Theissen announced that the team had decided to halt further development KERS; of which BMW had been one of the strongest proponents, and focus instead on improving the car's aerodynamics. This left Ferrari and McLaren as the only remaining users of the KERS system. In the European Grand Prix at Valencia Robert Kubica scored the team's first points since the race in Turkey.
Following a meeting of the BMW board on 28 July, the company held at press conference the following morning in which it confirmed the team's withdrawal from Formula One at the end of 2009. Chairman Dr Norbert Reithofer described the decision as a strategic one. The Formula One Teams Association released a statement in response pledging its support to help the team remain in F1.
On 15 September 2009, it was announced that BMW Sauber had secured a buyer, Qadbak Investments Limited which turned to be a shell company. However, Lotus Racing had been given the 13th and final slot in the 2010 season. The team were awarded what was termed a 14th entry, which hinged either on another team dropping out or all the other teams agreeing to allow 28 cars to enter the 2010 Championship.
Modern Sauber and Ferrari engines (2010–present)
On 3 December 2009, the FIA confirmed that Sauber had been granted the entry vacated by Toyota Racing following their withdrawal and would be using Ferrari engines. Peter Sauber had previously announced, on 29 November, that the team's chassis for the 2010 season would be designated Sauber C29, while the Swiss newspaper Blick reported that the team will be called Team Sauber F1. However in January 2010, Peter Sauber has said that he has not yet applied for a change of name, so therefore they remain for now as BMW Sauber F1 Team despite zero BMW components. Kamui Kobayashi was announced as their first signed driver for the 2010 season on 17 December 2009. Pedro de la Rosa was signed as Sauber's second driver on 19 January 2010.
Before the Singapore Grand Prix, it was announced that Nick Heidfeld would replace de la Rosa for the remaining 5 races of the season. Esteban Gutiérrez later joined the team as a reserve driver, and drove during young driver's testing after the end of the season.
Despite promising pace in winter testing, the team struggled with technical problems in the early rounds of the season, with no points from the first six races. After running a blank livery for the first four races of the 2010 season, the team finally announced a sponsorship deal with the Burger King fast food franchise at the Spanish and European Grands Prix. During frustrations, Peter Sauber admitted that his decision to rescue the team had been emotionally-driven, but insisted that it was proper. Finally, in Turkey, Kobayashi finished 10th, collecting the team's first championship point for the season.
At the European Grand Prix in Valencia, after qualifying in 18th place, Kobayashi drew attention while driving a vast proportion of the race in 3rd position defending from Jenson Button who was following closely behind in 4th. After entering the pits during the closing stages of the race to switch tyres, Kobayashi exited the pit in 9th. In the last few laps of the race, Kobayashi overtook the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and the Toro Rosso of Sébastien Buemi for a 7th place finish. The impressive drive from Kobayashi received much acclaim and was Sauber's best result of the season to-date. Pedro de la Rosa meanwhile, despite originally crossing the line in 10th position to secure 1 point, would eventually only finish in 12th place after a penalty, stripping away a double points finish. This accomplishment, however, was later achieved at the Japanese Grand Prix and Korean Grand Prix.
The second half of the season gave more productive and consistent results; The drives of Kobayashi, Heidfeld and De la Rosa combined earned 44 points, giving the team 8th place in the constructor's championship. Kobayashi performed the team's season-best finish of 6th at the British Grand Prix.
Kobayashi was retained for 2011; he was joined by teammate Sergio Pérez and his compatriot Esteban Gutiérrez as reserve driver. The team debuted their 2011 car – the C30 – on 31 January, with testing beginning the following day.
At the start of the season in Australia, both Pérez and Kobayashi were later disqualified due to technical infringements. Pérez suffered a major collision at the Monaco Grand Prix, resulting in concussion and a sprained thigh. Despite being passed fit for the Canadian Grand Prix, Pérez withdrew from the weekend after the first free practice session due to illness, he was replaced by 2010 Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa for the remainder of the weekend.
For the remainder of the season, the team obtained regular top-10 finishes, and overall finished 7th in the constructor's championship.
On 28 July, it was announced that Kobayashi, Pérez and Gutiérrez would all remain in the Sauber setup for the 2012 season.
Sauber started the 2012 season with a double points-scoring finish – Kobayashi sixth and Pérez eighth – in Australia, before Pérez finished second the following week, at the Malaysian Grand Prix; the team's best result as an independent team. Kobayashi then started third at the Chinese Grand Prix behind the two Mercedes cars of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher; although Kobayashi finished the race in tenth position, he recorded the fastest lap of the race, his first in Formula One.
Prior to the Spanish Grand Prix, Sauber announced a sponsorship deal with English Premier League team Chelsea. After the race, in which Kobayashi equalled his career-best result of fifth, Peter Sauber announced that he had transferred ownership of a third of the team to CEO Monisha Kaltenborn. Pérez achieved his second podium of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix with third place, while Kobayashi added a ninth place to help Sauber move up to sixth place in the Constructors' Championship.
For the German Grand Prix, Sauber achieved their best result of the season. After starting in twelfth position, Kobayashi finished fifth, equalling his best result at the time, before a time penalty for Sebastian Vettel pushed him up into fourth, giving him the best result of his career. Meanwhile, after starting down in 17th due to a penalty, Pérez managed to work a great tyre strategy and finished just behind Kobayashi – prior to Vettel's penalty – in sixth position, giving the team a total points haul of 20, their best since splitting with BMW, and giving them a 53-point advantage over Williams for sixth in the Constructors' Championship. At the Belgian Grand Prix, Kobayashi started second and Pérez fourth, the best grid positions in Sauber's history. At the start of the race, Romain Grosjean caused a spectacular crash taking himself, Pérez, championship leader Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton out of the race. Kobayashi's Sauber was also damaged and he finished the race in 13th place.
At the Italian Grand Prix, Sauber scored 20 points; Pérez used a one-stop strategy to move from twelfth on the grid to take his third podium of the season with second place, while Kobayashi finished in ninth place. Kobayashi took his first podium finish and the team's fourth of the season at the Japanese Grand Prix; the following week, it was announced that Peter Sauber was stepping back from the daily management of his team, handing the role of team principal to Kaltenborn.
On 23 November 2012, it was announced that Nico Hülkenberg, Esteban Gutiérrez and Robin Frijns would make up the team's line-up for the 2013 season; Hülkenberg and Gutiérrez as part of the race team and Frijns as reserve driver. The team's car for the season, the C32, was launched in Hinwil on 2 February 2013. The livery was changed and the car is now grey, similar to the Sauber cars in the early 1990s. Despite a promising eighth place for Hülkenberg at the second round of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix, it was clear soon that the C32 was far from the competitiveness shown by its predecessor, with Hülkenberg unable to obtain better than a 10th place finish in subsequent races and rookie Gutiérrez having been unable to score as of the Belgian Grand Prix. Despite this, Hülkenberg caused a shock by putting his car third on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix, outqualifying both Ferraris in the process.
At the Singapore Grand Prix both Hülkenberg and Gutiérrez were in the points, running 6th and 7th respectively due to pitting under the safety car, but as their tyres went away Hülkenberg managed 9th place and Gutiérrez only 12th. Hülkenberg showed some impressive driving in Korea, finishing in 4th place and allowing Sauber to pass Toro Rosso in the standings. The Japanese Grand Prix saw the team's first double points finish of the 2013 season with Hülkenberg 6th after running most of the race in 4th, and Gutiérrez 7th after an impressive battle with Nico Rosberg's Mercedes. Hülkenberg scored again in the last two rounds and Sauber finished 7th in the WCC with 57 points.
* Season in progress.
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