Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 72

SEASON REVIEW Sauber: The Worst Season in Formula 1 Throughout its 22-year seasons in Formula 1, Sauber has moved up and down the grid, but the 2014 season was the first time in which the team was a genuine backmarker, failing to score a single point. Sauber’s financial woes became evident midway through 2013 and forced the talented Nico Hulkenburg to move back to Force India. To fill the holes in its budget, Sauber opted to field the talented but aging German Adrian Sutil and the well-supported but inexperienced Mexican Esteban Gutierrez. The extension of Gutierrez’s contract, despite his obvious struggles against Hulkenberg in 2013, allowed Sauber to continue its partnership with the Mexican tequila manufacturer Jose Cuervo. Sutil took up the second seat, widely believed to be reserved for the Russian youngster Sergei Sirotkin. Sauber’s negotiation with Sirotkin’s Russian 72 backers fell through when the Crimean crisis broke out in Ukraine in early 2014. Even with a line-up based mostly on financial rather than competitive needs, Sauber was still way down the pecking order at the start of the season. The core of Sauber’s 2014 problems was weight. The Ferrari power unit is above the weight limit for that component and the Sauber designers have found it impossible to make the car hit the minimum weight limit. The problem for Sutil was more pronounced as he is among the tallest Formula 1 drivers at 1.83 cm and therefore also considerably heavier than the shorter Gutierrez.