SAUBER have unveiled their first car since teaming up with Alfa Romeo, with the team aiming for a much-improved 2018 season in the C37.
The car follows a similar theme to Sauber’s livery concept from the end of last year, reverting from the blue colour scheme of last season to Alfa Romeo’s corporate dark red and white.
Distant back-runners in 2017, the Swiss outfit have renewed hope for the campaign ahead after agreeing a long-term and wide-ranging technical partnership with Alfa Romeo, who return to the sport following a 30-year absence.
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Marcus Ericsson is entering his fourth season with Sauber but has a new team-mate this season, joined by highly-rated Ferrari protege, F2 champion and F1 rookie Charles Leclerc.
“I am very much looking forward to the 2018 season, and to seeing Marcus and Charles on track,” said team boss Frederic Vasseur. “We have put lots of effort and hard work into the C37 over the last few months, and it is fantastic to be launching the new car today. I am convinced that Marcus and Charles form the perfect driver line-up, with one being an experienced driver and one a promising rookie.”
“Our target ahead of 2018 is clear: We have to catch up with the field and continue improving our performance during the course of the season.”
Sauber will be supplied with new Ferrari engines after settling for year-old power units last year. The Alfa Romeo deal is part a beefed-up relationship with Ferrari, with Sergio Marchionne serving as both car company’s president.
The C37 features notable aerodynamic revisions, particularly around the sidepods with the car following the trend of the 2018 designs seen so far with intricate winglet detailing.
Technical director Jorg Zander said of the new car: “The philosophy is much different to that of the C36. The aerodynamic concept has changed significantly, and the C37 has several new features in comparison to its predecessor. We are positive that the new concept offers us more opportunities and will help us to make improvements during the course of the season. The 2018 Ferrari engine will also give us a boost in terms of our performance.”
It will also be the first full year as team principal for Vasseur, who replaced Monisha Kaltenborn halfway through the 2017 season. Sauber were previously set to be powered by Honda for 2018 before the change in management.
Pascal Wehrlein scored all five of Sauber’s points last year before being let go, and while Leclerc is expected to flourish, the pressure will be back on Ericsson to prove he is worthy of an F1 seat.
The Swede hasn’t scored a point since the 2015 Italian GP, a drought of 48 races.
Renault also launch their new car on Tuesday, with the RS18 to be unveiled online.
SAUBER: FOUR FAST FACTS
* Sauber are the fourth longest-serving team currently in F1 after Ferrari, McLaren and Williams.
* Charles Leclerc will be the first Monegasque driver lining up at the first race since Olivier Beretta in 1994.
* Marcus Ericsson is the first driver since Nick Heidfeld to race for Sauber for four straight seasons.
* Sauber have finished 10th in three of the last four seasons having never previously been lower than eighth.