A Year of Sauber Struggles

In terms of disappointing season’s, Sauber’s 2014 campaign is has to rank as one of the worst and neither Adrian Sutil nor Esteban Gutierrez could overhaul the deficit created by their sub-par machinery. The hope is that the Hinwil-based outfit can have a more prosperous 2015, with two new drivers in-bound.

Adrian Sutil – Sauber C33
By Mariom990 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Facts…

  • Sauber finished 10th in the championship, failing to score a single point. 
  • Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez suffered 13 retirements between them across the course of the campaign. 
  • Gutierrez was eliminated at the Q1 stage of qualifying on four occasions, including at Canada, where an accident in FP3 ruled him out of the session. 
  • Sutil’s P10 in Austin marked the team’s best qualifying performance of the season and the only time that either car made it into the final phase of qualifying.

Tug Of War

After enjoying two years of relative prosperity, Sauber came down to earth with a bang in 2014, as the C33 failed to match the performance of its predecessors. As such, this campaign has been the worst in the team’s history – since their entry in 1992, they had never failed to score a point in a season. Certainly, a streak that Monisha Kaltenborn et al did not want to break.
Character-building is one particular sporting cliche which springs to mind. To compound the on-track performance issues, Sauber faced an on-going political battle off-track, as it united alongside Lotus, Force India, Caterham and Marussia, in what became a tug-of-war between F1’s “have’s” and “have not’s.” While Kaltenborn has been particularly vocal in regards to the financial unsustainability of the sport for quite some time, her argument was made more potent in the closing stages of the campaign as Caterham and Marussia slipped into administration. Regardless, the situation is yet unresolved, even if Sauber’s financial predicament seems to have been alleviated in the short term by their latest driver appointments. Every cloud has a silver lining though and the political issues did somewhat detract the attention away from Sauber’s on-track woes.

Driving The Changes

Reluctantly, drivers will always come and go in this sport and we may have seen the last of both Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez in F1, after disappointing campaigns. Albeit hamstrung by a challenging car, neither driver demonstrated the type of credentials which would either make them a candidate in the eyes of potential employers or their current employers, for 2015.
Gutierrez’s 2014 season seemed particularly discouraging. The Mexican, driven by a desire to compete in his home race next season, failed to improve his performance after a difficult rookie campaign, in which he scored just 6 points to teammate Nico Hulkenberg’s 51. While his poor returns last season were somewhat understandable, a second lackluster performance has seen his credentials drawn into question. While he may have narrowly beaten Adrian Sutil over the course of the campaign 8-7, the notable mentions go to the German – two 11th place finishes in Australia and Hungary and a Q3 appearance at Austin. The clumsy accident in Monaco did nothing to improve the perception that was growing in regards to an underachieving Esteban.
However, both Esteban and Sauber in general have been hugely unlucky this season. Gutierrez’s retirement in Singapore is perhaps the most unfortunate moment of their trouble filled campaign, as the Mexican looked likely to secure points until an electrical issue halted his progress and prompted his famous glove-throwing exploits, captured on FOM’s world feed. Meanwhile, following his impressive result on Saturday, Sutil’s US Grand Prix was abruptly concluded when Sergio Perez misjudged his speed Turn 15 and careered into the back of the Sauber. While Gutierrez’s race pace suggests that Sutil may have struggled to maintain his top ten placing, his qualifying account predicted otherwise. I guess we will never know what could have been on that November afternoon.

Final Lap

Best Moment of the Season
In a year of trials and tribulations, Adrian Sutil’s incredible qualifying performance at Austin was both spectacular and unexpected – the highlight of an otherwise gloomy season.

Best Performance of the Season
Sauber’s 177 lap total in the final day of testing that stole the headlines.  

Final Grade
D  

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